Pedagogy overrides technology every time. It isn’t that the technology doesn’t matter, its just that the learning matters so much more. It matters because only when the learning happens naturally and authentically, does it ever make a difference. Especially when it is learning outside of an institution, learning for yourself. That is when pedagogy reigns supreme. If the learning doesn’t happen fast and isn’t immediately applicable, the learner will get bored and leave. That is why so many people start learning a language and never get beyond saying hello.
That was before Mango Languages, which is one of the first companies to truly understand the need for marrying a pedagogical approach to learning a language online. Their market expansion is evidence of this understanding, to the tune of growing 1,310% in the last three years and landing at #275 on the list of fastest growing companies by INC. Their innovation is that their product focuses on conversations as a means to learning, which is one of the most authentic ways to learn anything. Within these conversations, they have invented “Stealth Grammar” to help people understand the syntax of the language without having to learn it in isolation. This isn’t a small innovation either. It flies directly in the face of how most computer-based and online language learning programs have done it for decades. By placing conversations at their core, their marketing strategies have mostly written themselves:
Mango Languages has seen significant sales growth through their Mango for Libraries program, in which many people can use their services simply by having a library card. Libraries love more people getting cards and coming in to check out materials, and Mango loves the lead generation that the libraries can provide by exposing all kinds of patrons to their services. This virtuous cycle leads to more people doing more people development.
However, with all of these people learning languages all over the world, and the core value proposition being that of conversational language acquisition, it is a wonder that Mango hasn’t instituted a way for their users to converse with one another. The authenticity that comes from speaking with someone in another country has been proven in classrooms around the world via Skype chats and “sister classroom” projects.
We would love to see Mango Languages take advantage of their huge fan base and strong small business growth, and leverage the connections for those who are wanting to learn from not only the content, but each other. While there are other companies working on this type of solution via video (http://www.verbling.com/) and mobile apps (http://www.playsay.com/), it is Mango Languages that is best positioned to take advantage. They are the ones with the sound pedagogical approach. They are the ones with the world-class content. We hope they create the kind of learning environment that connects us all with conversation and continues their meteoric market expansion.