My thanks to HelloTalk for being a sponsor this week. I wrote last week of how research shows the most important factor in learning a language is the quantity and quality of input in that language. One way to get that input is through language partners, but it can be hard to find the right partner for you. Fortunately, the free app HelloTalk has some great features that connect you easily and quickly to language partners of over 100 languages. The process is quite thoughtfully designed.
You can connect to other users in two ways: finding them or being found. You can find others (or be found) through posting a “Moment,” a Twitter-like feed which lets you see what others are asking, talking about, or sharing. If you see others post interesting things, you can get into a conversation with them. While a lot of what is posted is trivial, this can be a good way to find someone interested in the same topics as you, which makes for good conversation. More likely, you’ll find a language partner (or be found) through searching, and it is here that I really appreciate the consideration HelloTalk has built into the app.
When you search for others, (left screenshot below), it lets you specify the age range of speakers, the location (country or even city) in which they are located, their native language, what language they’re learning, and even their proficiency in that language. While I wish HelloTalk would also enable you to search by gender and interests, you can still narrow the range considerably to make sure you’re are finding only the kind of people with whom you want to talk. For me, in learning Chinese, I wanted to find someone with greater maturity and seriousness in learning a language, so I searched for older users (avoiding student ages who may just want to practice before a test) and those of a higher level of proficiency. The result is that I found multiple people with whom we can converse in either English or Mandarin. This is fantastic for those moments where one of you doesn’t understand a word; you can easily switch to a different language for clarification. The search options make it easy to find the language partner you’re looking for.
I also really appreciate HelloTalk’s Who Can Find Me settings (right screenshot, above) that control who can search for you. You can specify whether the languages should be an exact match for you, the gender, age range, whether people can find you by location, and you can even hide yourself from search for months at a time if you need to. I have mine set as you can see above; while that limits who can find me, it means that those who do find me are better matches for my language learning needs.
I’ve been using HelloTalk for a few weeks now and I have had more conversations in Mandarin than in the months prior, despite the fact that my wife is Chinese. There is simply a benefit in connecting with others who are wanting to learn your language and you are wanting to learn theirs that makes that communication easier.
If you want to learn, practice, or refresh a language, check out HelloTalk, free on the App Store.
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