- AR and VR apps
- Over 40 language courses
- Software dedicated to kids
- Fun to use
- Lack of cultural context
- Translation errors
- Basic grammar exercises
Launched in Romania back in 2013, Mondly is a language learning app that offers a more engaging way to learn a new language than studying flashcards. Instead of focusing on individual words, Mondly teaches you commonly used phrases that allow you to learn new vocabulary and memorize sentences. Moreover, all exercises are backed up by a native speaker, enabling you to listen (and repeat) words with the correct pronunciation. There are speaking exercises available too, where the app takes advantage of speech recognition to tell you whether your pronunciation is correct or not. With over 40 language courses, there’s a lot to learn with Mondly, and due to the company’s recurrent promotions, you can get access to all of them for as low as $4 per month. You can also try the app’s premium version through the 7-day free trial.
Like many other language learning apps, Mondly teaches through spaced repetition. However, the main difference is that it introduces phrases off the bat. This is definitely more challenging than going through flashcards, but it also helps you understand how to construct sentences and remember words more quickly. There are also exercises that focus on vocabulary, speaking, and listening. Even though there are a few grammar lessons throughout the course, these are basically a way to teach you some verbs.
Each lesson follows the same structure by beginning with a few images to help you understand the correct translation of the new words you’ll be learning. But then things become more complicated as the app jumps to complete phrases right away. Since a native speaker always says the phrase, these exercises are still manageable but bear in mind that they include many new words. This is quite problematic, especially for complicated languages with distinct grammar, such as Japanese. Since phrase construction and verb conjugation are quite different from English, you’ll end up just selecting the correct words by what you’re listening to instead of actually learning how to come up with phrases yourself.
The same can be said about the ability to switch between the Latin alphabet and characters. It’s a nice addition, but if you’re learning a new language that uses a completely different set of characters, you won’t be able to understand what is written. In order for this to work, a section dedicated to learning characters would be essential.
Mondly provides a set of applications for paying customers that clearly puts it as one of the most innovative language-learning apps. By taking advantage of VR and AR technology, Mondly allows you to have conversations with virtual characters. This is definitely the most enjoyable way to learn a language since, instead of pictures, you'll see the objects of the words you're learning. What's a more exciting way of learning how to say lion in French than having a virtual one in your living room?
The iOS app also comes with a hands-free mode that allows you to practice while multitasking. Instead of using your phone’s touchscreen to complete exercises, you just pronounce the words out loud as if you were addressing Siri. It’s a great way to recap a lesson or memorize new vocabulary while working out or making dinner.
The company also provides specific apps for kids and companies. The former is a childlike version of the main one, focusing on vocabulary rather than complex phrases. The business app MondlyWORKS offers access to all the language courses available and an admin dashboard where you can track your employees' progress.
Mondly provides 40 studying sections across all courses. The app doesn’t focus on a gradual evolution of the language, though. Instead, it focuses on specific events that you may face when visiting a new country, such as booking a hotel room, going to a restaurant, or asking for directions. There isn’t much of a logical path to it, as basic lessons like learning the numbers, colors, or animals are actually some of the final classes. When you get a premium account, all sections are unlocked and you can study whatever you feel like. Still, it would be better to have a more obvious structure to follow.
The story is a bit different when it comes to learning English. For these courses, Mondly has partnered with Oxford University Press to offer users a way to improve their English from beginner all the way up to an advanced level. The courses, which are available in 33 languages, allow students to learn English from their own native languages. They consist of over 100 custom tests with more than 3,500 questions and countless grammar and vocabulary exercises.
Free accounts only have access to the first section of each language, which focuses on introducing yourself and a daily lesson that can include a little bit of everything. The strange thing is that Mondly doesn’t teach you anything and jumps right to the exercises, meaning you may find yourself trying to answer something you’ve never heard before. This only gets worse when there’s no cultural context whatsoever, which is essential for some languages.
Mondly is designed specifically for mobile, but a web version is also available. However, since the company didn’t make many changes for the latter, the experience isn’t the best when it comes to learning on a computer. Although exercises work as expected for the most part, speech recognition is terribly unreliable on these devices. Not only were there times where the app marked a word we correctly pronounced as incorrect, but it also marked phrases correct when we didn’t speak at all. Fortunately, the same isn’t true for the mobile app, where speaking exercises are incredibly smooth.
On mobile, exercises are as straightforward as possible. The language learning app takes advantage of the mobile touchpad to teach you a language by either dragging or tapping words. Due to the software’s design and the mobile’s aspect ratio, it’s a bit difficult to have an overview of the course structure, but that’s just a small detail compared to the rest. Your account will also sync between your mobile phone and computer, allowing you to jump from one device to another and continue where you left off.
Mondly’s price is quite straightforward. You can get either a plan for one language or a subscription that offers access to all the courses available. For the first option, you can choose between monthly or annual payments, where the latter provides a discount of 60% – translating into $4 per month. To gain access to all 41 language courses, you have to subscribe to a yearly billing cycle. At face value, Mondly values this package at $39.99 per month, but there are recurring discounts within the app that reduce this subscription to the equivalent of just $4 per month. Therefore, if you want to learn more than one language simultaneously, always wait until the company provides this amazing 90% discount.
On desktop, Mondly sends you to a secure checkout page where you can pay with a credit card, PayPal, wire transfer, or other payment services. On mobile, Mondly prompts you to pay through your app store wallet. Moreover, if you create an account through the mobile app, the company will offer you the option to try the premium version for seven days for free – something that doesn’t happen if you create an account on the company’s website.
Mondly’s customer support is nothing to write home about. There isn’t 24/7 support, and the live chat is only available for users who visit the landing page dedicated to special offers. The website also doesn’t have an FAQ section, but you can find one on the Apple and Google stores instead. Therefore, the only way for paid users to get in touch with the company is through email or social media. For the former, you can either go to the ‘Contact’ tab on Mondly’s website or select the help button within the app. Fortunately, the company is quite active on both Facebook and Twitter, where you can find daily posts with quick vocabulary lessons for all the courses provided. Not only that, but you can also contact the support team through messenger or by tweeting at them and expect an answer within one day.
There’s no question that Mondly provides a more engaging way to learn a new language than reading through flashcards. Exercises almost seem like a mobile game, especially when there’s a leaderboard in place that makes you want to learn more to come up at the top. That being said, there are a few problems with some of its language courses. The lack of cultural context can be extremely detrimental for anyone learning an Asian language. Taking Japanese as an example, there’s no mention of honorifics and when to use them. Moreover, we also found a few translating errors in both Japanese and Portuguese, which is quite alarming for a language learning app. Despite this, if you’re looking for a fun way to learn how to maintain a basic conversation in another language, then Mondly's perfect for you. Sure, you won’t end up as a native speaker, but you’ll at least be able to speak with the locals when visiting a foreign country.