在Hello Talk引导中国人学英语

在Hello Talk引导中国人学英语

HelloTalk is an app built specifically for people to learn language. You can talk to native speakers across the world using voice and text (and video now).

With some apps, you work with a program in a set way. With HelloTalk, you talk to people. It’s more like WeChat in that way, but it’s primarily for language learning and social in a secondary way, whereas WeChat would be social in the primary way.

HelloTalk has many features and can be very powerful. It’s extremely easy to correct the language of others and you see the changes clearly with different colors. Other people will help you in the same way. You can record yourself speaking as messages and also receive those. Those can be replayed, rewound, etc. The primary purpose of the app is to learn language and it’s optimized for that.

You can practice in similar ways using other apps and tools. But you can also practice ineffectively and it seems like many people do, including myself initially.

How to practice ineffectively

Often, on the app, people start with small talk. That is natural. But you also want to move beyond that!

You can write, “hello, how are you?” many many many times. Often you will see/hear the same responses. That’s one thing you should be able to do. But you want to move beyond that. Part of how you do that is to get to know a person and talk about common interests.

Also, you want to get away from what is comfortable in other ways. Try actually speaking and listening more instead of primarily writing.

Learning how to use this app effectively can help you learn a language using other tools and apps as well. For now, I’ll focus on HelloTalk though.

Understanding the other person’s perspective

Probably the most people on the app are trying to learn English.

Therefore, if you’re learning English, it can be good to understand the perspective of a native English speaker. And if you’re learning another language, it can be good to think more about the perspective of the native speakers of the language you want to learn. It will likely be quite different!

Will use my own experience on the app as a native English speaker for some details since it’s probably fairly similar to the experience of other English speakers on the app.

I started using Hello Talk in March of 2015. So a bit longer than a year at this point.

Language Partner Requests

It seems like people who speak English and are learning Chinese get many many language partner requests.

Between Mach 24, 20015 and May 1, 2016, I received many language partner requests (I think not including any that I declined). These are the requests that I have either agreed to or not responded for.

Here are two pages with seven people each, I agreed to two of the requests. Will say why or why not in a minute.

This is 14 people.

IMG_4855

Between Mach 24, 20015 and May 1, 2016 here are my language partner requests.

IMG_4853

840 people. And that is not counting any that I deleted.

Does that mean I don’t talk to anyone? The answer is no, I talk to a lot of people on Hello Talk.

Language Partners

hellotalk_chats

Native English speakers will probably tend to get many requests. If that happens, you want to choose who to speak with.

If you get few requests, you’ll also choose, but have less options.

On the left are the most recent chats, 11 people. Out of 11, two are Spanish speakers and nine are Chinese speakers. That’s approximately typical, about 90% of people I talk to on Hello Talk are Chinese. About 10% speak Spanish. And a few speak German. My account is set up for me to learn both Chinese and Spanish.

The one with the X marking, I deleted because it was a one word message, ‘hi’.

How to Greet People on Hello Talk

By giving a more personal greeting to new people, you can likely connect better.

Instead of just saying “hi” or “hello” or “你好” just add one word to that message and I will usually respond.

“hi Neal

“hello Neal

“你好Neal

Any of those work. And for anyone else, use their name and it will be more personal as well.

If you do that and write a longer message, possibly about something you saw in their self-introduction or in a moment, that could be better still.

On the right are the rest of the people I have spoken with. A total of 946 people.

At first I think I sent more friend requests, now I do not send as many but still a few sometimes.

I have quite a few people to talk to, but some people stop using the app and/or are unavailable for different reasons.

Numbers of people for different languages

There are probably the most people on Hello Talk learning English. And more from China compared to Latin America and Spain (two groups I can see). There are some German speakers, but not a lot. That means that often times many people wanting to learn English contact the native English speakers.

So it can be difficult to find someone to practice English with (or German, etc) but there are a few things you can do.

Time Zones

Understanding time zones can help you be able to talk to people. Personally, I’m unlikely to be signed into Hello Talk at 4:00 AM. I have received messages when I was asleep quite  a few times. Fortunately Helllo Talk does not do notifications when you are generally sleeping.

I live in California, it’s 15 hours behind China. Or you can think about it as 9 hours later, but the previous day.

Sometimes it’s difficult to talk to people in China.

It’s easier to talk to people in North America or even Europe.

But morning time in China matches up with afternoon and evening in California. Later afternoon in China starts to get into late night for California.

The East Coast of the United States including New York is three hours later than California which makes it 12 hours behind China.

(Daylight savings time changes the time difference depending on the time of year).

Schedule

You can send messages at any time and then reply later, that can work. It can also be good to talk live.

Ask about someone’s schedule if you want to coordinate.

Interests

Sometimes you meet people and you seem to have a lot to talk about. Which can be similar interests, etc.

Other times, you may have little in common.

Talking to someone about similar interests can be good.

Choosing Language Partners

Since I have many requests for language partners. I put specific instructions in my profile.

hello_talk_profile

If people follow those directions, which are simple, I usually talk to them. If they don’t, generally I do not.

The instructions are to mention my name in their first message.

Language Level

If there are two people talking and they both speak one language well, let’s say it’s English and one does not speak Chinese well, then they may speak more often in that language. If each person is at a similar level with the language they are learning, then it may be more equal.

Sometimes it can be good to speak with someone who is at a similar level to you in the language you are learning. It does not need to be exactly the same level though. And the translation features, etc help a lot in Hello Talk.

我学中文两年了

Recorded/Written Introductions

I like to see both a recorded self-introduction and a written self-introduction. Knowing a little about the person and what they sound like can be good.

For the written self-introduction, I usually see “I am from China and speak Chinese, I would like to learn English and can help with Chinese”

I assume that people in China speak Chinese.

If you specifically write something about yourself, that could help you connect with more people.

你有空的时候喜欢干什么?

你的工作是什么?

How you think you can help someone with their Chinese.

How specifically you would like help with English.

Etc.

The recorded self introduction can have similar things said. It can be good to speak both in Chinese and English so that the other person can hear both.

Picture

I would personally rather see a picture of the person than a graphic or something else.

Moments

Sometimes I’ll start talking to someone if I see something interesting in the moments.

If someone leaves a comment on a moment I posted, I’ll often talk to them as well.

A few ideas

I developed the game on this website to help me learn better.

Get outside your comfort zone and have conversations with people!

Try some different ideas!

Recommendations

  1. Add a recorded self-introduction
  2. Add a written self-introduction
  3. Use a photo of yourself
  4. Read the other person’s profile before contacting/adding them

I hope this helped you! Let me know if you have questions.

If you want to talk to me, check out the videos I have put on this site and try out the exercises. If you enter your name and email into the form, I will most likely get back to you quickly. Especially now since the site is somewhat new.