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Our team's comprehensive evaluation of the language learning app from Mondly, including thoughts on whether it's worth it
Rather than taking the old school approach to learning a new language with books and classes, Mondly attempts to making learning a new language actually fun by gamifying the learning experience. And we get why they do this! Learning a new language can be dull and frustrating at times, so making it like a playing a game and competing against friends drives engagement. But here’s the big question most people have: does Mondly actually work? Well, we answer just that question in this detailed review.
As this is a lengthy review, we’ve added jump-to links above so you can quickly navigate this article.
Mondly Video Review
In the above video, John from the TPI team breaks down everything you need to know about the Mondly language app. For more detail, please continue reading our full guide below.
Mondly Languages Cost
Before we get right into the meat and potatoes of this review, let’s quickly discuss Mondly’s pricing and subscription options, as it’s an important topic. As you may know, Mondly does offer a free version; however, it is very limited. Honestly, given the incredibly limited amount of features, I would say the free account is more like a trial version than anything else. As such, most people opt for the Premium plan instead, which unlocks all of the Mondly content and features.
The Mondly premium plan costs around $10 per month, or $48 per year if you pay up for 12 months in advance. Also, you can optionally get lifetime access to Mondly as well, which you sometimes find on sale for around $90 total with a discount link or coupon code (their website says $2,000 MSRP, but don’t believe it).
Overall, the big takeaway is that Mondly is very affordable. It’s cheaper than competitors like Pimsleur and Rosetta Stone by a pretty good margin, and this low price point is one of its more attractive features.
How The Mondly Languages App Works
With coverage of pricing out of the way, let’s talk about how the Mondly program is structured from a high level (not counting their specialized AR and VR apps, which I’ll get to later on). To start, one you login, you’ll arrive at the main Mondly dashboard, which looks like a map. On this map, you’ll see a bunch of landmark icons, which each represent a different topic or theme.
You can scroll from left to right and visualize all these different “landmarks” across the interactive map. Some of these topics include weather, travel, and family, among many more. Within each topic after you click into it, there are usually 6 to 8 lessons.
You can complete lessons directly by jumping into one of these “landmark” topics, or Mondly will provide you with a daily lesson. The daily lessons though are essentially just Mondly’s recommended order of working the topic lessons, as they tend to build on one another.
These daily lessons are the heart of the curriculum, though of course you can always jump ahead if you want. Additionally, if you complete all of your daily lessons for the week, you then unlock a weekly quiz. And if you complete all your weekly quizzes, you then unlock a monthly challenge. Perhaps you can see where I’m going with this. Mondly is big on consistency and streaks, and you generally stick to this through daily assigned lessons.
The Mondly Lessons: What Are They Like?
Knowing now how the Mondly program is structured from a high level, let’s dive into what the lessons themselves are actually like. And I’ll start by saying this: they’re short. Each lesson only takes about 5 to 15 minutes to complete depending on the day and topic, and they go by very quick.
The best way to describe the format of these lessons is that they’re basically a mix between Memrise, Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, and Babbel (make sure to check our reviews of those apps if you don’t know what they’re all about).
In essence, each lesson is made up of a dozen or so quick-hit, interactive drills and exercises that span the major mediums listening, reading, writing and speaking. These drills include:
matching phrases to images (which are very similar to Rosetta Stone);
listening to words and phrases in your target language and then repeating them;
spelling words and phrases;
translating sentences between languages;
listening to a question and selecting the right multiple-choice answer; and
completing mock conversations by selecting the correct response.
Those are the primary exercises you’ll complete, just in different variations. So as you can see, it’s a wide variety, which keeps things interesting and engaging.
What We Like About Mondly
Time for the good stuff. Now that I’ve covered pricing, subscription options, and what the lessons are all about, let’s get into what I like and what I don’t like about Mondly after thoroughly testing the program.
Love The Price Point
For me, one of the greatest perks of Mondly has to be the price. I know we already covered this with a full section, so I won’t harp on it, but Mondly is very affordable, especially compared to other language learning programs out there. Compared to Rocket Languages, for example, Mondly is a steal.
Short, Fast Lessons
Secondly, I like that the lessons are short and engaging (much like Babbel’s). They go by super quick, which is great for working professionals, busy parents and students.
Not everyone out there has a spare hour everyday day to complete lessons, and sometimes 15 or 20 minutes is all you have. So it’s nice that you can knock out a lesson or two each day in a short time frame and still feel like you’re making progress.
Another thing I like is that Mondly tries to gamify the language learning experience and make it fun. The main dashboard looks like an interactive map, which is pretty cool, and you can track of your stats at all times directly from the navigation bar. If you’re into that sort of data, you can really dig into what you’ve already learned through a neat, interactive brain tool.
Also, as you complete lessons and drills, you earn points that allow you to track of your streaks and compare your performance against friends and other users on the Mondly leaderboard. In my opinion, this all creates a fun, game-like environment, and is good to keep yourself motivated and engaged.
Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality Apps
In addition to their standard app and language courses, Mondly also offers virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) learning apps as well, which are designed to complement the standard lessons. This is where Mondly really differentiates itself from competitors. In fact, the novelty of the programs sort of make Mondly a pioneer in the digital language learning landscape.
The Mondly VR app is a virtual immersion tool that places you in simulated environments. You’re immersed in all kinds of situations that require you to speak to locals, including simulated grocery shopping, booking flights, or ordering food in a restaurant. In other words, the goal of the app is to simulate real situations with native speakers through VR.
The VR app isn’t free, which is a bit of bummer, but it is only a $5 one-time purchase, so it’s not too bad. The bigger issue is though is that you need an Oculus headset to do it. This will likely rule out quite a few folks.
However, if you don’t have an Oculus headset, Mondly also offers their AR app, which is free as long as you sign-up for a premium account. The AR app takes a scan of your room and then uses augmented reality technology to generate a CGI teacher and animations right in your own home.
For example, if you’re learning about various foods, the teacher will show you animations of bread, bagels, apples, and more. The AR teacher will provide some tips and insights, and you’ll practice using the food-based words in sentences. The app allows you to interact with the animations and even get up to walk around them, getting a 360-degree view. It’s pretty cool.
Overall, I found the VR and AR apps to be a nice change of pace from the standard lessons. In a way they are somewhat akin to video lessons, like those from Busuu. They’re definitely not meant to serve as a stand-alone language program and they’re definitely not a substitute for real life interactions. However, overall, I found them to be a nice complementary tool for pronunciation and conversational practice. Plus, it’s just cool to add in some clever tech to diversify your language lessons and keep you engaged.
Vocabulary That’s Actually Useful
Lastly, I like that Mondly teaches you truly useful vocabulary and phrases. The material you learn consists of words and phrases that you’re actually likely to use in real world situations, which is something I can’t say for a lot of the other language programs out there.
For example, you’ll learn things like “I need to buy a ticket” or “where is the bathroom.” Plus, Mondly even offers job specific courses and lessons, which can be helpful for working professionals that might be looking to work or travel overseas. For example, Mondly offers courses directly related to marketing, negotiations, customer service, and finance, among others.
What We Don’t Like About Mondly
With the glowing positives out of the way, let’s switch sides to the things I don’t really care for with respect to Mondly’s program.
Limited Free Version
Although Mondly makes a big deal about their free version (much like Duolingo does), it is very limited. You essentially just get 1 vocabulary builder, 6 lessons, and 1 mock conversation. Honestly, as referenced above, the free version should really just be renamed “free trial.” It’s good for nothing other than dipping your toes in the Mondly waters.
Plus, Mondly’s speech recognition tool isn’t even available with the free account, so there’s no way to have your pronunciation checked. Given the importance of that alone, you’ll likely want to upgrade to the premium version from the get go.
Not The Best For Your Speaking Skills
Put simply, Mondly isn’t the best for developing your conversational skills. The mock conversation exercises and the company’s ChatBot lessons really aren’t that advanced.
You’ll essentially just be asked to listen to and repeat words and phrases in a vacuum. In fairness, the company’s AR and VR lessons are a little better in this respect, but at the end of the day, the tech is still limited and the simulated conversations are fairly basic.
I think the audio lessons and conversational practice exercises from Pimsleur and Rocket Languages are much better. So if you’re looking for top-shelf audio-based lessons and conversational practice, be sure to check out those two companies.
Limited Grammar Instruction
When it comes to grammar instruction, the Mondly program is limited. They just don’t provide much detail, and the explanations are thin. In reality, all’s you get is that when you click on a verb, you can see a list of its conjugations. That’s about it.
For some languages with complex grammatical principles, like Finnish for example, you really need more than that. I just felt like the direct grammar teachings could have been more robust.
Not Ideal For Advanced Learners
Mondly is not great for intermediate to advanced learners. In fact, the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels don’t even seem to be that much different from one another. Even when you get to the advanced levels, the lessons are sort of basic.
I mean they do progress, don’t get me wrong. However, they just never felt like they advanced into that complex language mastery realm. For example, they only focus on present and past tense, but don’t really progress towards the more difficult future or past imperfect tenses until very late (if barely at all).
Hold To Speak
I know this might be nitpicky but every time you go to speak, you have to hold down the microphone button the entire time, which can become annoying. With other language apps out there, the speech tech will either automatically record your voice without having to do anything, or you simply have to click the button once and the tech will automatically stop once you are finished speaking.
With Mondly though, you literally have to press and hold a button with your mouse the entire time. It’s a small gripe, but it is annoying.
Verdict: Mondly Languages
All in all, there’s a lot to like about Mondly. The premium version is really affordable, and their lessons are short and engaging, which I personally love. When you combine this with how they gamify the language learning experience, it makes for a pretty fun and interesting learning experience that keeps you coming back each day. I also think their job-specific courses can be super useful for working professionals and are a pretty underrated feature. Not to mention, their VR and AR apps are truly innovative.
However, like most language programs, there are a handful of disadvantages as well. For example, Mondly doesn’t focus on grammar principles, and the lessons really don’t seem to advance beyond the basics in terms of helping you truly master the new language.
I think the bottom line is that Mondly is a solid all-around program. It’s not my absolute favorite language app, but at the end of the day, I think Mondly is an effective option that should work well for most folks. Personally, I think it would be best geared towards someone who wants quick and fun lessons on a daily basis, and really just wants to develop basic conversational skills for talking with in-laws or taking a trip.
Is Mondly free?
Yes, Mondly has two versions: a totally free version, and a paid subscription. However, the free version is very limited in features and should be looked at as more of a free trial.
Is Mondly worth it?
Yes, for their low monthly cost, Mondly is worth it. It isn’t the most comprehensive or effective language app we’ve used, but all things considered, it’s a solid all-around program.
Is Mondly a good language app?
By and large, we like the Mondly app and found it to be a good program for learning a new language. We like the short, engaging lessons and the cheap price tag.