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Mango Languages vs Pimsleur
Determine which language program is best for you in this detailed Pimsleur vs Mango comparison
Although Pimsleur and Mango are two of the most popular language learning apps on the market and offer many similar features, the courses from both companies actually differ quite a bit in terms of both learning framework and lesson format. In this article, we highlight these key differences so you can quickly determine which language program best fits your needs, regardless of which language you’re attempting to learn.
Let’s begin this post with a quick pricing comparison before we get to my thoughts, as that’s always a major decision factor. And fortunately, it’s a pretty simple, apples-to-apples look.
Pimsleur offers two different subscription options. The first package is the Pimsleur Premium plan, which costs $20 per month and includes access to one language.
Alternatively, for $1 more per month, you can upgrade to the Pimsleur All Access plan, which includes access to the 50+ languages that Pimsleur covers.
Similarly, Mango offers two different plans as well. They offer a Single Language plan, which costs around $8 per month, or an All Languages plan that costs around $18 per month. The All Languages package includes access to the 70+ languages that Mango covers.
Thus, in terms of pricing, if you’re simply looking to learn one language, Mango is the more affordable option by around $12 per month. However, if you want access to multiple languages, pricing between the two companies becomes much closer.
Though one thing I would note here is that Pimsleur allows up to four users per account, so if you will be learning alongside family and friends, you can account split and effectively reduce the cost per user (as low as $5/user). That is a pretty big win when doing a family thing.
How The Lessons From Pimsleur & Mango Compare
Next, to help contextualize my strengths and weaknesses of each program, let’s quickly compare what the lessons are like from both companies.
Starting with Mango, their lessons are quite a bit shorter in length than Pimsleur’s. Each lesson only takes around 5 to 15 minutes to complete (somewhat similar to Babbel and Duolingo). An English-speaking moderator will guide you through the lesson, where you learn a handful of new words and phrases.
During this lesson, there are three main exercise types that you will complete—learn, speaking quiz, and critical thinking. That’s really it in terms of drill variety—it’s just those three types. Plus, every so often, Mango also tosses in a quick grammar or culture tidbit as well.
Thus, Mango is missing some of the features we are used to seeing when we review language apps. There are no videos, mock conversations, flashcards, or anything like that, which other language programs (including Pimsleur) frequently offer.
The Pimsleur lessons, on the other hand, are centered around long-form conversational practice. To start each lesson, you complete a 30-minute audio exercise, in which an English speaking host walks you through a conversation in your target language step-by-step.
You’ll listen to a few sentences in your target language, the host will then stop to explain the situation and context to you, and then ask you participate in the conversation. Therefore, you can essentially think of this exercise as a guided conversation.
Then following each audio lesson, you review what you just learned through a variety of drills and exercises, including digital flashcards, quizzes, speed games, and more.
Why Pimsleur Is Better Than Mango Languages
Having covered pricing and lesson format, let’s move onto the major reasons why you would want to choose Pimsleur over Mango for your language learning needs.
Interactive Audio Lessons
After using Pimsleur, without a doubt, my biggest noted advantage for them over Mango is that their lessons are more effective for developing your verbal and conversational abilities.
Instead of the lessons simply revolving around new words and phrases like you get with Mango, the Pimsleur lessons are much more thorough. Their interactive lessons prompt you to respond to fluent speakers using words, phrases and sentences within the framework of an actual conversation.
You have to be actively involved in tracking the conversation, as you need to understand the situation and respond at the proper times when the host directs you to.
In my opinion, this type of dynamic participation is effective for getting you to recall and use the target language under pressure just as you would in real life situations.
That’s one of the biggest draws of these audio lessons—you’re getting simulated real-world experience with Pimsleur. That, in my opinion, is about the best practice for truly learning a new language.
Start Holding Basic Conversations Faster
Piggybacking on my last point, in terms of learning to speak quickly, I believe Pimsleur has the advantage. Because Pimsleur’s lessons place a greater emphasis on conversational practice, I think Pimsleur is more ideal than Mango for people who want to quickly achieve an intermediate level of fluency so they can begin holding basic conservations in their target language.
Whether you have a big trip right around the corner where want to be able to converse with locals, or you just want to impress your new in-laws at Christmas, in these cases, I think Pimsleur is the way to go.
Another advantage for Pimsleur is that because the first half of each Pimsleur lesson is audio-based, I think it’s great that you can complete them while you’re on the go.
Whether you’re doing yard work, washing dishes, or running on the treadmill, you can get these lessons done when and where you want. It’s just nice that your eyes don’t have to be fixated on a screen at all times.
When you’re learning a new language, this is a major benefit. Sometimes it’s just nice to get a change of scenery and break up the monotony, and the Pimsleur lessons definitely allow for that.
Their mobile app even comes with a special driving mode so you can learn and complete lessons during your daily commute to work or a long road trip. So overall, I have to give credit to Pimsleur for the flexibility that their lessons provide.
Share Your Account With Friends
One final point I want to call out is that with the basic Pimsleur subscription, the company allows you to share your account with up to three friends or family members.
This is a great feature, because you can split the cost and progress is tracked separately for each sub-user.
So if you’re going abroad with friends or you’re wanting to learn a new language with someone in your family, then Pimsleur makes it super easy and convenient. Plus, the potential savings of splitting the cost is huge.
Want To Learn More? Check Out Our Pimsleur Reviews By Language:
Now that I’ve highlighted my wins for Pimsleur, it’s only fair to turn the tables and highlight the advantages of using Mango to learn a new language.
Review Your Voice & Cadence
My first advantage in favor of Mango is their voice analysis tool. To be clear, Pimsleur recently introduced their own speech recognition technology (called Voice Coach), which is something their program lacked for a long time, but Mango’s tool is a little different.
With Mango, when you record yourself repeating a word or phrase, their tech not only provides feedback on your pronunciation, but it also includes a visual readout of your tone and inflection.
This readout allows you to compare yourself against the fluent speaker example to see how you stack up, which I think is pretty useful and unique. This visualization allows you to see the tweaks you need to make to your tone and cadence to sound more like a true local.
Toggle Feature To Better Understand Translations
Another advantage is that Mango does a really good job of defining the differences between between literal and understood phrases. The truth is when you’re learning a new language, the phrases and sayings that you’re introduced to don’t always translate between languages word-for-word.
A lot of times, there’s a similar phrase or way of communicating your message that isn’t a direct word-for-word translation.
And what’s nice about Mango is that to help you learn these subtle but important differences, the company offers a useful toggle feature so you can alternate back and forth between seeing the common, everyday understanding of the phrase, or the literal word-for-word transcription.
For me personally, this was super helpful. This tool can also be helpful for students studying for the AP French or German exams too.
Color Coding System Highlights Patterns
Similar to the difference between between literal and understood phrases, different languages also structure their sentences differently. And one thing I really about Mango is how they use a color coding system to highlight patterns within sentences.
With most language apps, you’re introduced to a grammar rule and then asked to decode and interpret the rule within the context of example sentences. There typically isn’t any real assistance or help, which can be somewhat frustrating.
But with how Mango uses various colors to highlight different fragments, it really helps you to quickly get a feel for what sounds and looks correct. Essentially, Mango helps train you to look for patterns as opposed to memorizing rules.
Specialty Course Available
Lastly, this is most likely a non-factor for most people out there since Pimsleur does offer courses for over 50 different languages, but technically Mango does beat them in this regard.
Not only does Mango cover over 70 different languages, but they also offer specialty courses as well, such as Argot French, Oktoberfest German, and Spanish Medical.
Thus, if you’re looking to learn a lesser spoken language, or you want to brush up on a specific niche within your target language, then Mango may be the better bet for you.
Want To Learn More? Check Out The Best Apps By Language:
Verdict: Should You Choose Pimsleur Or Mango Languages?
That about does it for the detail in my comparison of these apps, so let’s get to the final verdict. Should you choose Mango or Pimsleur to learn a new language?
Well, after using and testing each language program, I think Pimsleur is the way to go. Mango certainly offers a few attractive features, but at the end of the day, I just think Pimsleur is the more effective program for helping you to achieve an intermediate level of fluency.
Overall, Pimsleur’s curriculum and learning framework is just a little more advanced than Mango’s. Frankly, I just really appreciate that Pimsleur makes simulated, guided conversations a focal point within their lessons.
What is the difference between Mango Languages and Pimsleur?
The language lessons from Mango and Pimsleur differ in terms of length and format. The Mango lessons are shorter and rely more on quick-hit practice drills, whereas the lessons from Pimsleur are more comprehensive and centered around interactive audio exercises.
Is Mango Languages better than Pimsleur?
After testing the programs from both companies, our team actually thinks Pimsleur offers more effective language courses than Mango from top to bottom.
What is the cost difference between Mango and Pimsleur?
Generally speaking, Mango Languages offers more affordable subscription plans than Pimsleur, but only by a few dollars per month. Both are fairly affordable monthly pay-as-you-go plans.