Not Fond of Mond(ly)

That was certainly a terrible attempt at making a pun.

I have no plans to become a reviewer of language apps. I just like to talk. What, eight years of this blog doesn’t make it obvious?

There are dozens, if not hundreds of language learning sites and apps out there. No shock. Reviews are good, but ultimately, the only person who can tell you what works best for you is you. I’m already partial to two particular sites, but I get curious and check out others too. Most recently, I started playing with one called Mondly.

It’s possible that despite I have absolutely no fluency in Spanish whatsoever, I’ve learned enough to not really be impressed with these apps anymore. I mentioned in my post about my feelings on Rose and Duo that I prefer it not to be a cute game. However, I find Mondly to be worse.

First and foremost, while not necessarily cute, Mondly looks more childish than DuoLingo. A description I read of it says it teaches language in a “Rosetta Stone like way”, but I really disagree. It’s worse than Duo when it comes to choosing difficulty because regardless of whether you choose “beginner”, “intermediate”, or “advanced”, you’ll start at “beginner”. Duo at least gives you a placement test and lets you skip over a certain number of lessons (although doesn’t put you at level 5 for them). Why bother with levels if there’s no effect on where you start?

There also seems to be an issue with the speech recognition. I did a few lessons that required it, but the task is marked correct, regardless of what you say… or if you say nothing! Technology is imperfect, but neither Duo nor RS are that bad. At the very least, you have to say something.

The lessons themselves feel like they’d fit right in with a kindergarten class. There’s a reason I despise flash cards and fill-in-the-blank, but it’s more than that. Even for a “beginner”, it’s ridiculous. The lessons – at least, the first ones of each category – treat the user like she/he is only now beginning to speak any language at all rather than a new one.

Much like Duo, Mondly feels more like it’s for playing than teaching. I use Duo to play games and RS to learn. I don’t need another game. I was doing one lesson in the category of “seasons and weather” that apparently attempted to teach me the order of months. No, I’m not kidding.

[Blank] is the first month of the year.

February is the [blank] month of the year.

March is the [blank] month of the year.

[Blank] is the fourth month of the year.

You get the idea. The sentence was in Spanish and you’d have to fill in the blank or translate the sentence. After I reached May, I realized it was going to go through all twelve months and I exited out. I know what order the months of the year go in. Make it a task to put them in order and be done with it!

Unlike DuoLingo, Mondly isn’t free. The most expensive package, a lifetime subscription to all forty-one languages they offer, costs $2,000! You can get it for $90 (95% off) through some affiliates like Mezzoguild for a period of time and it’s no wonder why. Supposedly, it’s their most popular subscription. Perhaps the normally exorbitant price explains why it’s hard to access any page for their pricing on the website itself. I can’t find a link to it for the life in me. There’s seemingly not even a link to their current sale – 90% off a yearly subscription for all languages (knocking the price from $480 to $48, the cost of subscribing to one language for one year). I only found it by adding “offer” after the hyperlink in an attempt to find regular pricing.

I freely admit I’m not a business expert, but if finding the cost of a service on the business’s own website is difficult, there’s probably something to hide or the designers really need more training.

There’s one thing I can say I do like about Mondly, and that’s that it gives the user a list of past, present, and future tenses when conjugating a verb if the user chooses to see that option. That’s it.

Also, their homepage claims (in bold letters!) 33 languages are available, but the subscriptions claim the number is 41. In fact, 41 is only seen on the site’s pricing for subscriptions. Every other page claims 33. Who’s keeping up with the website?

The same description that claimed Mondly teaches similar to Rosetta Stone also calls it “beautifully designed”. Mondly isn’t ugly, but I can’t agree with that. “Crammed” is the best word I can consider for it.

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