I first heard about Hello Talk in a YouTube video, I was looking for apps to help me learn Arabic and decided to give it a try. Initially, I wasn’t expecting to use it for more than a few hours, but now I’m hooked, and use it most days. Available on iOS and Android, the app is free for one language but does charge if you want to learn two or more.
When you set up the app you can upload a picture, put in your details although you can choose to not show any in your profile (apart from your gender), and you also choose the language you want to learn and which language you speak and/or can teach. You then have access to the list of people who speak your target language and want to learn your native language, then it is a case of you picking someone and starting to talk to them (or someone messaging you).
In the settings you can make it so that only people of your gender can message you, this might seem a little strange to some but I had one conversation with a Palestinian man from Jordan who was, basically, incredibly misogynistic. This made me very wary of talking to other men as, while they weren’t all as opinionated at that guy, their views would affect how we spoke. All but one of the people I speak to regularly through the app are women, before I changed the settings so that only women could message me I had to turn off the notifications because I was getting so many messages from people.
Geared towards learning
The features of the app are geared towards learning, if your partner makes a mistake, you can highlight and correct them in the text, showing them where they went wrong. If you are sent a message you don’t fully understand, you can directly translate it and if the alphabet is different (such as in Arabic) you can get the text written phonetically so you can still try and work out what the message says without resorting to translation. You can also record short voice clips and make free phone calls through the app to practice speaking.
Overall this app is very easy to use, the instructions and the tutorials are very clear and informative so you can get the hang the app quickly.
If you are learning a language that does not use the Roman alphabet, you will have to download the relevant keyboard separately, but once you do this I found that you really do improve quickly if you are typing in the proper script.
When you first talk to people you will soon work out who is serious about learning and who is only looking for people to chat to. This happens within a few minutes as you will probably be grilled as too why you want to learn their language. As you chat and get to know your new language partners you will learn without realising it, be it how to ask the way to the nearest souk or how their day went.
I have only been using this app for a few weeks but so far there have been no issues with how the app runs; some earlier reviews have mentioned that the app was buggy but since I’ve had no problems, I’m going to assume that the developers have ironed most of the bigger issues out.
Using this app alongside other resources, you will be able to improve your language skills very quickly. This will be a valuable tool and I would encourage anyone learning another language to use it if possible.
Thanks to HelloTalk for the images.