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HelloTalk language exchange app


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On 9/9/2018 at 7:24 PM, AdamD said:

I would advise anyone to pay for lessons and conversations (so face-to-face tutoring and iTalki),

 

Just to clarify: you don't actually need to pay for language exchange on italki... just find/friend someone and arrange to Skype or whatever.

 

 

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“Just to clarify: you don't actually need to pay for language exchange on italki... just find/friend someone and arrange to Skype or whatever.“
 
it it is free to find language partners but you have to pay for lessons or tutoring, which I recommend by the way.
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I think I have mentioned it on this thread, but italki teachers are the way to go. If you just want conversation practice rather than a lesson plan you can just use the community tutors for as little as $5 USD an hour, which is well within the reach of almost everyone here. 

 

Even if I can find a language exchange partner that will do 50/50 I often find it stressful to help them. I've been in bizarre situations where someone is treating me like a living dictionary, giving me a list of words to translate into English. They would be better served using a dictionary. Dealing with idiosyncrasies of random people on the internet can be a real hassle. 

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  • 7 months later...
On 1/31/2018 at 8:01 PM, AdamD said:

A feature I'd love to see in HelloTalk is the ability to create a special closed group of trusted language partners, so when I've got an hour free and want to do a voice chat, I can broadcast 有人現在有空嗎? just to my trusted group of 10–20 friends without 8,000 strangers hitting me up all at once. This would make my life so much easier.

 

Instagram has exactly this feature. It’s called ‘Close Friends’, and it allows you to share photos or stories with a small group of people you’ve tagged as close friends.

 

If HelloTalk had this feature, I could mark a few people as close friends and write a Moments post telling just them that I’m free for a chat.

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My first and last HelloTalk conversation was about two years ago. I set an unusual language pair (Italian / Cantonese) so finding someone was pretty hard. Eventually someone popped up, so though I was travelling for work at the time, I just kept on replying just because it was so rare to find a match.  After what must have been a couple of hours of patient and polite conversation (99% in English, with some very elementary Italian thrown in), I decided it was time to get my part of the bargain.

 

I wrote literally two sentences in Chinese, the second one about 周星馳 and how hard it was for me to keep up with his movie dialogues. At that moment she suddenly decided that I must be a local faking to be a foreigner who is learning Cantonese (for what purpose, God knows). After all, no foreigner has ever heard of 周星馳. And as I was trying to think of a way to say, look, I'm real, and I really have better use of my time, she actually *blocked* me.

 

For a few minutes I was so incensed not only I deleted the app and drove a stake through its heart, but also almost ditched my phone.😂

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That sucks. I don’t know if I’ve ever been blocked, but I’ve waded through thousands and thousands of odd people. Most recently someone wanted me to teach her kids English, to do it all by video call (even though I said no), to kick off at a time I said I couldn’t do, and to hide the whole thing from her jealous husband. I said no but she kept trying.

 

In the past month I’ve had an absolute avalanche of people who won’t speak any Chinese at all. This is especially crap right now, because I’m on the lookout for voice calls but I refuse to waste a single minute handing out free English lessons.

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I’ve had quite a good run with voice calls on HelloTalk. I’ve been connecting with people at random, by putting out requests for a spontaneous voice call in moments, and so far everyone has been happy with 50/50 English/Chinese.

 

Separately from this, I’ve had a record number of women aged 27-31, with nothing but selfies in their profile, saying ‘hi’ and nothing else. At least 50 this week (and two more as I wrote this post). I’m not replying to any of them, but I’m wondering if there’s a scam behind this. They’re new accounts and their profiles are too similar.

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  • 2 months later...
On 5/8/2019 at 3:49 AM, AdamD said:

I’ve had quite a good run with voice calls on HelloTalk. I’ve been connecting with people at random, by putting out requests for a spontaneous voice call in moments, and so far everyone has been happy with 50/50 English/Chinese.

 

I don't use the app that way. I post in the moments section, and often do some commentary both in English and Chinese. Then the serious people will reply back in the comments. I will generally only have direct message chat with people that I have already gotten to know in the comments to my moments. Even then I don't spend a lot of time with chit chat. But I have nearly 9,000 followers on the app and I feel like it is a good place for me to get clarification about things. 

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  • 8 months later...

I have stopped with Hellotalk and deleted my account.

 

I agree with @AdamD that it is a phenomenal resource for linking up with people at random and getting language practice in Chinese. I did have occasional strange encounters. Some guys looking for a relationship. Never the girls. One person putting on a sob story about not being able to afford lessons and chasing me to be a charity whilst also planning to study abroad. Another person thinking I had developed more than a platonic relationship with a third person. One who refused to speak mandarin at all during a request for a voice call - turned out she had a regional accent in her Mandarin. She was embarrassed about not speaking standard mandarin.

 

In the end, I found the app more distracting than constructive. It would take time away from learning more constructive learning activities because I kept looking for status updates. Then you feel you are justifying being on the app by learning Chinese. I felt I was procrastinating more. I did add a few people onto my wechat which I think is enough for now. If, and hopefully when, my chinese improves, I can always go back. Lots of interesting people if you can sift through the number of low value requests e.g. Some people just want to chat with a 外国人 out of curiosity and then leave the app.

 

On 7/14/2019 at 2:46 PM, david387 said:

I don't use the app that way. I post in the moments section, and often do some commentary both in English and Chinese. Then the serious people will reply back in the comments. I will generally only have direct message chat with people that I have already gotten to know in the comments to my moments. Even then I don't spend a lot of time with chit chat. But I have nearly 9,000 followers on the app and I feel like it is a good place for me to get clarification about things. 

 

This is a good use of the app because you get some very quick answers. Through the app I got introduced to a wechat group that has English and Chinese speakers. It seems a more mature group which has active questions from both languages and I prefer smaller groups. I post up my questions and get very nice answers.

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On 4/12/2020 at 7:58 PM, Flickserve said:

This is a good use of the app because you get some very quick answers. Through the app I got introduced to a wechat group that has English and Chinese speakers. It seems a more mature group which has active questions from both languages and I prefer smaller groups. I post up my questions and get very nice answers.

 

I think everybody has to find their own way that works best for them. It sounds to me like you're doing really good. I have 10,600 followers on hellotalk now and I sometimes teach English in the mornings for a little extra money. Since I've used it for five and a half years, I have such a good following and some friends that I've known for a long time so it's good for me. But it sounds like you're developing some good relationships on WeChat and that's awesome too.

 

I agree with you that this app can easily distract you. There have been so many people that are helpful, and then I feel obligated to give them helping return. but having been down that road a few times, I'm comfortable with my process now and I'm able to spend my time wisely.

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I use this app but I've seen almost no reason to use it regularly. How I use it goes something like this:

  1. I make a post saying that I'd like to find a language partner willing to meet with me an hour weekly, spending 30 minutes on English and 30 minutes in Chinese. 
  2. I get like 30 messages in my inbox
  3. I respond to a few (only people with profiles and moment history) speaking whatever language they message me in, and attempt to set up times to have a video or audio call
  4. Once I get like 2-3 meetings on my calendar, I delete my original post so that I stop getting messages
  5. If people flake out, I go back to my messages and see if there was anyone I felt bad about ignoring
  6. If people only speak English or disrespect Chinese time by going back to English, fine. I will be friendly and polite with them, but they won't get another call.  
  7. Eventually all language exchanges run their course. Repeat step 1 when I'm looking for new partners

It does help that my Chinese is fluent enough to hold conversations, and was so long before downloading the app. I do give preference to men when looking for a partner, as I think they make the best partners. And as a married man myself I like to limit the amount of beautiful college girls that my wife has to tolerating watching me videochat with 😅

 

I have met a few oddballs. Some people who get extremely clingy after one call or less, and start messaging me constantly telling me what a great friend I am, etc. Mostly I just meet people who want to text but not get on voice or video chat, and that's why I tend to ignore the app aside from using the "Moments" section to fill my roster of potential language exchange partners. 

 

I do post a new moment every few weeks, just to show people that I'm a real person living life. As that is the same history I expect to see when considering whether to become a language partner with someone.  

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@AdamD @david387 @Flickserve 

As founder of HelloTalk I would like to answer how our team is trying to bring back our language exchange session back by end of this June to address the issue of fair language exchange. When HT was launched in early 2013 it had a language exchange mode, whereby users can exchange text or voice message exchange. However the exchange was asynchronous (each type 500 characters or exchange 5 minutes of voice messages in respective language) and not implemented well so we decided to hide the feature in 2016. 

We will bring back a real time voice call language exchange (10-30 minute exchange) to individual chat and Moments post language exchange request. Basically users can exchange in real time voice and systems will announce switch language halfway through. Fair language exchange has always been the core and our intentions among the community, and it's been a long time but I believe this time we will make it more right than first time in 2013.

 

Recently, we also introduced some a useful feature called Magic Wand to help with language explanation:

- basically when you chat and try to help your partner, you can now click the magic wand icon and search Google, Wiki, Google image, YouTube to send a website link back to your partner very conveniently to explain concepts, grammar, etc.

- we will be adding web dictionary to the magic wand soon (e.g. I learn Spanish so I will see some web language dictionary options such as SpanishDict or Reverso when I click magic wand icon), this is coming in a month

 

With people, I would the experience always depends on whom you've met. With other features like tap translation it's easier to learn just through user posts, but it's just learning alone and most people find it hard to sustain for long. After 7 years in existence, this year will probably mark a breakthrough year for HelloTalk in terms of user experience and improvement, mainly because we have put in a lot more resources into development. I encourage everyone to check back the HT app by July. 

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8 hours ago, HelloTalk Zac said:

After 7 years in existence, this year will probably mark a breakthrough year for HelloTalk in terms of user experience and improvement, mainly because we have put in a lot more resources into development. I encourage everyone to check back the HT app by July. 

 

Thanks for coming back with the updates. I'll try to get through some other materials first before taking a look at it again.

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8 hours ago, HelloTalk Zac said:

Google, Wiki, Google image, YouTube

 

Thanks for giving us an update Zac, but as you probably realise, many of us are outside of China looking to do Engish-Mandarin language exchange with users inside China.

 

None of the above sites can be accessed by Chinese users without a VPN, and synchronous-only communication would mean a very narrow window of opportunity for communication for users who are distant from the UTC+8 timezone. So having some kind of turn-taking for an asynchronous mode would also be useful.

 

Adding some kind of rules, goals or structure, or even gamification, to the process of contacting and communicating with potential language partners would be really helpful though. On a dating site, users probably have a reasonable idea of what they want to achieve and how to do it... with language exchange I think almost everyone needs to be guided.

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Mainland Chinese have been blocked from using the moments section. There is something about the content need to be cleaned and filters installed, and then it will be returned to normal. In the Chinese app stores you cannot download it right now. However, Mainland Chinese can still use it for sending private messages and searching for study partners.

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@Perpetual Chang @david387 Yes David is correct Moments function is temporarily not available for China. We need to rehaul and upgrade our systems for reasons you probably can guess that I can't go into much details. In any case it's best for HelloTalk to remain a language exchange app not related to non language and culture type of discussion, and it has always been that way anyway. We are trying our best to bring back Moments to China users as soon as possible. We can probably bring it back by end of May. 

Hope everybody understand and be patient with us. 

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