Monday, August 10, 2009

Mango Language Learning

Since I catalog all of the Spanish-language media I've managed to develop enough familiarity with the language that I can read short descriptive passages in Spanish and glean a reasonable idea as to what it means. I can also, with the help of the Spanish language subject heading thesaurus Bilindex, add subject and genre headings to a title--like "peliculas cinematograficas populares" for feature films. My knowledge of Spanish has really been getting a workout recently, as I've tackled some of the Spanish-language books that've been awaiting cataloging here in CMS. So, if I decided to take Mango Language Learning for Spanish, that would be kind of cheating because I already know some of the language.

Instead, I decided to try Japanese. Since my knowledge of Japanese is limited to "konnichiwa" for "hello," "arigato" for "thank you", and the Anglicized forms of anime production companies like Nintendo Kabushiki Kaisha and Shogakkan Purodakushon, I'm starting from scratch.

Mango takes you step-by-step through a basic conversation in a series of slides. Each slide builds upon the previous one, with lots of review ("do you remember how to say...?"), literal English translations, the words in printed Japanese, and cues about using Japanese in formal settings, all accompanied by narration. Mango offers a full 100-lesson course for Japanese, and the first lesson alone was 99 slides. The lessons aren't indexed that I could tell, so if you wanted to review a conversation on ordering a meal at a restaurant, it appears that you'd have to go through each lesson individually to find the one you want. Still, for someone interested in learning a new language and wanting to take it step-by-step, Mango seems a reasonable alternative to other commercial language-learning courses.

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