Since I’ve entered high school, I’ve been on a journey to become a polyglot. A Polyglot is a person who understands and can communicate in several different languages. My enthusiasm for learning a new language and learning about other cultures was surprisingly inspired by the video games I played during my youth. However, later on, I realized that video game technology serves as one of the most common introductions to new languages. So as you may have guessed, The first language I wanted to learn was Japanese. I was so fascinated by the culture and the language that I started listening to Japanese music orchestrated by the singers on the soundtracks of my favorite video games. One being Utada Hikaru from the Kingdom Hearts video game soundtrack. Believe it or not, I’m actually blushing. Blushing at the fact that I actually shared a portion of my nerdy past with you, which is something many people do not know about me but I love Japanese language and music! I’m also blushing at the fact that I thought to learn a new language, let alone Japanese, would be easier than it actually is. I set goals for myself. I talked myself into believing that I was going to be able to speak at least 5 languages by the time I graduated from college. I was so determined, telling all of my closest relatives and friends at the time. I am currently 25 years old and still feeling like I can barely hold a full conversation in a language that I’ve studied for 2-3 years. Why is this? Lack of commitment, lack of immersion? There are so many reasons but I tried my best to solve the issue in my early 20’s. So I ventured out on this journey to find resources that will help me enhance my ability to speak all of the languages that I so desperately wanted to learn. One of the resources I’ve recently discovered is “Hello Talk.” Hello Talk is a language exchange mobile application platform that allows anyone to converse with native speakers worldwide to enhance your communication in a foreign language while simultaneously enhancing their’s free of cost.
As my struggles learning Japanese inclined, my interest in it declined and I started to focus on what I considered to be languages that were less difficult to learn, the Romance languages. Now, I’ve taken French for 3 years in High School and passed the New York State Regents exam. I’ve taken Spanish for 2 years at the college level and received an A in each class. Although I understand enough Spanish to say a few basic sentences, I still have not practiced enough on a daily basis to confidently speak it and I am barely able to say anything with ease in French. However, as I got older I turned my attention toward other Romance languages such as Portuguese and Italian. There was something really capturing about the Portuguese language, however. It is a very beautiful language, I know many people who speak Brazilian Portuguese and I was just added to a Brazilian WhatsApp group with a bunch of new Brazilian Portuguese-speaking friends and therefore needed to understand what they were saying. And so I became filled with this desire to learn more. I really appreciate the convenience of mobile application – based learning, so I tried, Coursera, Mondly, Duolingo, italki and many others. Eventually, I found Hello Talk while watching a YouTuber who announced the App in one of his videos. I immediately downloaded the app and set up my profile. I was so fascinated by how many people from Brazil wanted to converse with me and practice their English. They were not only excited to learn from me but they were excited to teach me. I enjoyed the friendly new faces I would meet in these chats every day. However, it became entirely overwhelming.
My inbox suddenly became inundated with messages from Portuguese-speaking natives from all over the world and I found it impossible to maintain each conversation. The messages would pour in at such a rapid rate at all hours of the day. One day I woke up to over 700 messages in my inbox. Most of them started with “Ola Vanessa, Tudo Bem? I lost track of how many people asked me how I was doing in both English and Portuguese and as a result, I felt guilty. In addition to this, my iPhone storage space reached its limit and I realized the app was taking up so much space. So I was forced to make a decision. You guessed it! I had to get rid of it. It was really sad for me because I initially had so many high expectations and enthusiasm when I started using the app and deleting the app, meant that I would lose all of the friendships I made with awesome people overseas.
Despite the inbox overload, I’ve learned so much with Hello Talk. I love the features it possesses. For example, it’s transliteration feature is great! I have been able to enter text in English and completely translate it through the app without using Google translate. I’ve also been able to translate any text sent to me in Portuguese via the app. The app also allows you to hear the pronunciation of the words used in either language. Another awesome feature I admire about Hello Talk is the ability to make corrections to the sentences sent from the sender. For example, if the sender misspelled a
sentence word, I can correct the word in the message box and the editor would automatically use the “strike through” feature in red font while presenting the correct sentence structure in green font, below it. This made me feel like a certified English instructor! I’m sure my students enjoyed the corrections in grammar and syntax.
Overall, I give this product, a 3.5 out of a 5-star rating. The lack of filtering and organized structure with messaging was a bit disappointing. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the app’s features and the conversations with the people I’ve met. You are bound to improve your communication skills in a foreign language with Hello Talk. You are bound to create lasting relationships with people worldwide via Hello Talk thus I highly recommend this app if that is what you are looking for. If you are like me a person with very little iPhone/iCloud memory space and find it difficult to manage a large inbox of messages which rapidly increases over time, then this app is not for you. Despite the loss, my journey to become a polyglot ensues. My mission is to become fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, and German.
Please comment below and let me know if this was helpful or if you’ve experienced language exchange using the Hello Talk app or any other language app. I’d like to read your feedback. Thanks for reading!