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- Mondly is a subscription-based app and website currently offering 41 languages that can be studied from 33 native languages, supporting a whopping 1,320 different language combinations.
- It uses cutting-edge technology — including chatbots with speech recognition and AR (augmented reality) — to reproduce real-life situations and immerse users in authentic conversations with native speakers.
- Some of Mondly’s technological advances shine, but the augmented reality doesn’t work as smoothly as intended.
- Read more: The best cheap or free online resources to learn a new language
Though most international travel is now on hold — including a current ban on American visitors to Europe — you can still prepare for a post-pandemic international vacation by learning a new language, or brushing up on that rusty French or Italian.
Even if you can’t devote the time to full-fledged lessons, just a few minutes of practice each day will put you on the road to improving your language skills. One of the most convenient ways to squeeze in these bite-sized sessions is on your smartphone, via a language-learning app.
With the vast number of language apps out there, it can be a matter of trial-and-error to find the one that works best for you. You can check out those available for free or at a low cost, including well-known programs like Babbel and Duolingo.
Generally speaking, many language apps focus on rote memorization of vocabulary and grammar, a methodology not suited to all learners. Others, like Rype, offer more classroom-like settings via video lessons but come at a higher price.
The Mondly platform attempts to bridge that divide by taking a more high-tech approach, employing voice recognition and virtual reality to immerse users in real-world situations. Its aim is to get you speaking a new language quickly by interacting with recordings of native speakers in practical, day-to-day situations. An augmented reality feature goes even deeper, allowing you to have conversations with virtual characters in authentic scenarios.
Read on to decide if Mondly’s approach to learning a language is right for you.
Launched in 2014, Mondly is a language learning app and browser program. It was the first to use chatbot technology and augmented reality (AR) to enhance the learning experience. Mondly is also one of the few apps offering instruction in most of the languages it supports. You can learn Spanish from Russian, or Chinese from Italian, making it ideal for a global audience. There are currently 41 foreign languages available, including particularly popular options like:
The Mondly app uses a global team of over 120 translators and native speakers and collaborates with top universities on the lesson content. It works on a subscription-based model and leads users through daily lessons on practical vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure. There is a weekly quiz to test your knowledge. You can also hop around to different topics that are of interest, work on core vocabulary, or use the chatbot to practice speaking.
Every language is equally comprehensive for all 41 languages, which means underrepresented languages like Catalan are treated the same as more widely spoken languages like Spanish.
A separate MondlyAR app deepens the immersive experience, allowing you to roleplay with virtual characters in authentic scenarios, like say, ordering a meal in Spain or checking into a Paris hotel. To go even further, the MondlyVR (virtual reality) app is available for those with an Oculus headset. However, MondlyAR currently features just 15 languages, and Mondly VR offers 30 languages.
One important note for Spanish learners: Mondly teaches Castilian Spanish and uses native speakers from Spain. For those who want to learn Latin American Spanish, which has different pronunciations and often different vocabulary and verb tenses, this may not be the program for you.
The app itself is free to download, though you will have to pay for the monthly or yearly subscription once you’ve created an account to access all the lessons. To use Mondly on your computer, visit mondly.com and sign up or log in by clicking the top left corner. You don’t have to download any additional software and all you need is a reliable internet connection. You can also synchronize across the app and computer as long as you’re logged into the same account.
The MondlyAR is a separate app that is only available with a subscription and does not work on a computer. In addition, Mondly’s VR program is available at an additional cost on Google Play or via the Oculus store, and for which you will need a special Oculus headset.
You can also access a portion of Mondly’s content offline through the app, though not the daily lessons or the chatbot. MondlyAR is available online only.
Mondly uses a daily lesson plan, with each lesson covering anywhere from eight to 15 words and phrases and running about five minutes in length.
Mondly allows you to choose whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced learner and tailors the lessons accordingly. Lessons cover vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure using a mix of word selection and multiple choice, plus the option to either type or speak words and phrases. Mondly uses real native speakers for all recordings and voice recognition technology to test users’ pronunciation.
One downside for those who enjoy more flexible learning is that unlike many language learning apps, you cannot skip ahead to the next lesson, even with a paid subscription. However, you can access previous lessons for practice, although the number of lessons available varies depending on the language. You also only have access to one lesson per day, which is not ideal for those who want to choose how long they learn at a time.
There are a variety of key topics — such as weather, travel, public transportation, and food and drinks — which feature six lessons, one conversation, and one vocabulary section. These modules are taught using a blend of techniques like swiping, word selection, typing, and speaking. But it’s the conversation section where Mondly truly shines.
With this function, you don’t just speak the sentence, it’s actually recorded, allowing you to compare your pronunciation with the native speaker’s. You can re-record your sentence as many times as you wish, which is great for fine-tuning your pronunciation.
In addition, there is a chatbot feature that allows you to roleplay in a variety of real-world situations, including shopping, taking a taxi, and checking into a hotel. You’re presented with a selection of phrases and vocabulary to respond to the speaker, which gives users a head start on speaking the language.
For example, in the restaurant scenario, you can respond to the question “What would you like to order?” with common responses including, “I would like a mineral water” or “I would like a glass of white wine.” While this feature is great for beginners, more advanced learners might find themselves annoyed with the prompts.
The MondlyAR app feature deeper immersion by taking a scan of your room and uses AR technology to show a teacher and animations.
Mondly VR, which is yet another separate app beyond the AR app and premium subscription, has similar real-life interactive scenarios, though the experience is touted as being more immersive than AR as it uses a virtual reality headset. There’s also a multiplayer option that lets you — or rather, your avatar — connect with other users and interact in real time.
Some reviewers have complained that much of the lesson content wasn’t advanced enough for those at a higher skill level, so the lessons may be best suited for those at the beginner and intermediate levels. Before purchasing a subscription, you may want to try for free the basic Hello module, which includes six lessons, one conversation, and one vocabulary section, plus a chatbot conversation and one daily lesson.
As for the MondlyAR app, the idea is far better than the execution. The computer-generated voice, simplistic vocabulary presentation, and issues with voice recognition make this experience more frustrating than immersive.
Additionally, to take advantage of the Mondly VR offerings you must already own or buy an Oculus headset, which is pricey.
You can try the Hello module, which includes six lessons, one conversation, and one vocabulary section, plus a chatbot conversation and one daily lesson for any language for free. After that, it’s a subscription model.
One month for one language is priced at $9.99 and unlimited access to languages for a full year runs at a pricey $479.90 but is frequently on sale. The premium subscription includes access to the AR features, but you must download the MondlyAR app to use them.
The Mondly VR app is an entirely separate app that can be bought for an additional $3.89 and then used with a subscription.
Ideal for beginners and those looking to brush up on language skills, Mondly offers an expansive list of 41 languages, which is far more than other popular options like Babbel, which supports only 13.
And, unlike most language apps, with Mondly you don’t have to learn from English; languages can be studied from 33 native tongues.
Mondly uses native speakers for all spoken content and features pronunciation checks and the ability to record your voice, allowing learners to perfect their pronunciation skills. As a bonus, its chatbot function lets users interact with a human voice to practice the language they are learning in real-world scenarios.
However, some users may find that the inflexibility of lessons — which limits you to one short lesson daily — inhibits advanced learning. Additionally, while the idea of the AR is admirable, the execution leaves much to be desired and needs improvement. Those who do have an Oculus headset may enjoy taking advantage of the VR offerings for a more immersive setting than traditional language learning lessons.
This app is best suited for those who are looking to learn a language casually, by fitting bite-sized language sessions into their day.
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