HelloTalk – Learn English with native speakers around the world
- Readers Rating
- Rated 4 stars
4 / 5 (Reviewers)
- Your Rating
One of the best features of this app is the ability to search for language partners based on city of residence and languages spoken. For example, if you’re looking for a Korean speaker in Melbourne you can find them on the app!
Another advantage of the app is that you can practise virtually any time of the day with users in different time zones, and anywhere with an internet connection. You don’t have to get off the couch to practise and you can squeeze in a chat on the train ride to work.
There’s also a few other nice features such as the ability to favourite and save sections of conversations, to translate conversations and receive translation help from the community.
The downside though from our Hello Talk review is that native English speakers tend to be inundated with language exchange requests as there’s an over supply of English learners- especially from South Korea and China- on the app.
It can also sometimes be difficult on this app to break into deeper conversation as users sometimes have a low attention span or an irregular/slow reply rate using the app. The app is therefore well suited for those just starting out to learn a language; as you can practise basic conversation with numerous users and consolidate basic conversation.
Intermediate and advanced users would be better off finding suitable language partners through this app and then moving on to off-line language exchange, or online language exchange via Wechat, Facebook, Skype, Whatsup, Kakao, Line, etc without the distraction of numerous random Hello Talk user ‘hello’s’ and where your language partner should be faster to reply back.
How Does It Work?
Hello Talk is an app that matches you directly with people who are fluent in the language you want to learn and want to learn the language that you’re fluent in. For example if you were a fluent English speaker but wanted to learn Korean, you’d be matched with someone fluent in Korean and was looking to learn English. A German looking to learn Japanese would be linked to a Japanese person looking to hone their German, etc. etc.
It’s a simple enough concept to grasp and is much like the modernized version of old school pen pal programs.
It’s easy and convenient – since most of us have our phones on us throughout our day anyway. What’s more, it’s safe and non-committal – two components that millennials love.
I’ve been aware of the HelloTalk app for some time, but now is definitely the time to try it out because the community around it has exploded. This week it passed 1 million users covering about 100 languages. In the time that the app has grown, the developers have had the chance to vastly improve the interface. That said, there’s still some room for improvement.
Key features of the app include:
- Voice chat
- Text chat
- Camera share
- Doodle share (draw in the app to visually represent what you want to talk about)
- Smileys and other features you’d expect from a good chat program, like notifications of new messages, GPS location sharing, text size settings.
- Language learning specific features: Translation, Transliteration, and voice recognition to help you write/speak your target language.
- Mark exchanges (text, voice, images) for studying later, or save the entire chat to refer to later.
You can use the photo feature to share cultural differences with your language partner from your surroundings – when combined with the doodle option, the possibilities are endless for how you could use this to your benefit in language learning. You can draw a picture of a dog if you don’t know how to say that word, you can take a picture of your house and try to describe it, or try to describe your language exchange partner’s environment as language practice, and you can share cultural differences between your country and theirs.
Another helpful feature is the option to chat in several languages at the same time. On the app’s home screen you can see all your latest chats. There’s no need to go into the app settings to change your target language. This is an issue I’ve had in other language tools when I’ve been learning or practising more than one language.
In many ways, the experience of using HelloTalk is like Whatsapp, but with a public database of “friends” for the sole purpose of language practice. It’s pretty cool that you can scroll past many people and see at a glance where they are from based on the flag shown in the corner of their avatar.
One more thing. HelloTalk works on both Android and iOS, so whether you’ve got an iPhone, iPad, or an Android smartphone or tablet, you’re good to go.