I’ve been diving back into language learning over the last couple of months. I studied Arabic for three years while I was in university, but I never reached a true level of proficiency. So, I decided to jump pack in and continue trying to tackle that challenge. You can follow my language-learning journey on the Language Base Camp blog.

Besides listening to music in Arabic and downloading countless podcasts, I’ve also been filling my phone storage with apps. My favorite app to date is HelloTalk. If you are a language learner and are looking for conversational practice, then this app is the one for you. Let me highlight some of my favourite features.

Spelling and grammar correction

Did your language partner send you something with a small spelling error? Did they use the wrong verb tense? No worries. Simply tap on the message and select the “correction” icon. From there you can easily delete words and type in corrections. You can add a comment and the send it back to them. They receive their original message with their errors highlighted and the corrections below.

This, my friends, is golden. I have already found my grammar and spelling improving tremendously. I can see exactly what was changed and their helpful comments help me understand why it was changed. It makes it so much easier for me to correct their mistakes and I am more likely to do so, because it isn’t such a hassle.

Track the exchange

Have you ever had a language-exchange partner who always wanted to practice the language they were learning and never really gave you a chance to practice yours? Well, HelloTalk has a solution for that. You can request an exchange and the app will automatically track how many characters are typed in one language and after a set number (500 or 1000 characters) it will prompt both people to begin typing in the other language. You can set this as a text exchange or as a voice exchange. It will track how many minutes are spoken in one language and once again, prompt you to speak in the next language. This creates a really balanced environment so that both parties are learning.

Voice recordings and calls

Texting is an incredibly useful way to improve your language skills… particularly if you’re shy. However, it will only take you so far. If you really want to improve, you need to start speaking it. HelloTalk provides a voice recording feature or a free in-app calling option.

I personally prefer the recording option because I can re-listen to messages my language partners send me. I can listen to it over and over again until I understand every single word. It also makes it quite easy to send a sentence or two without committing to an entire conversation.

It all takes place in the app

Okay, you may not be as paranoid as I am about giving out too much personal information, but I don’t want to hand out my phone number, Skype account, and/or email out to strangers just to practice a language. With HelloTalk, you don’t have to! Everything happens in the app and you don’t ever have to leave it if you don’t want.

Some individuals can get pushy and really ask you for personal information. Usually, a polite, “No, thanks” does the trick; however, in the rare occasion that it doesn’t, you can block the individual and move on J.

In conclusion, I highly recommend using this app if you are hoping to connect with individuals who are eager to practice their language skills, but also make sure you get a chance to practice yours.

What are your favourite ways to learn a language? How do you practice?

Viviana Spicer

Viviana Spicer

Born and raised in Colombia, having studied in American institutions, and currently living in Canada, Viviana truly is a “third-culture kid. She’s fluent in Spanish and English and is currently working on improving her Modern Standard Arabic. She loves all things languages: studying them, teaching them, and even just talking about them! When she’s not working at her computer, you’re likely to find her enjoying the outdoors or cuddling up to her husband for a movie night.