Thoughts on HelloTalk (Active User of 2+ Years)

Hi!

I’ve been using HelloTalk for 2+ years as part of my daily Japanese studies. I know it’s been mentioned before, but it looks like the topics have been archived/locked.

For those unfamiliar, it’s basically a social media app for language learning. You post in your target language and get corrected by native speakers (as well as others). Additionally, you can help people learning your native language. It is super judgment free, no matter your level of knowledge.

Personally, I love the app. It really helps me with my output, and I’ve been able to make a lot of friends there. Having my Japanese corrected by native speakers is great, and when I’m not mega-shy and use the audio features, I get lots of help with my pronunciation (pitch accent, etc).

However, there are a couple of downsides to the app, but pointing them out helps mitigate them.

While your Japanese may be corrected by native speakers, you may not always get an explanation as to why the correction was made.

  • This one’s always a bit tricky. Sometimes the correction is obvious (ex: a misspelling, a confused grammar point, etc), but sometimes the correction is less obvious. Sometimes, your sentence is just wrong, but other times, it could be that your sentence is technically correct, but unnatural Japanese. Or it could actually be correct, but the corrector prefers saying/writing it a different way (an example in English would be something like… “I bought this book yesterday.” vs “I purchased this book yesterday.”)
  • The tricky thing is most of the people on HelloTalk aren’t trained to teach languages, so they may not know the ins-and-outs as to why something is the way it is (this holds true for all languages, of course). If I’m unsure why something is incorrect, I always (politely) ask, but if they’re not sure/don’t respond, I make a note of the correction for future research (either tutor, online Japanese friends, forums, etc). If you make enough friends on the app, though, someone will usually jump in and explain (even unprompted, lol)

Niche posts will get less views, resulting in less chances of someone correcting your Japanese.

  • This one can either be seen as obvious or less obvious. HelloTalk’s “news feed” is a conglomerate of users based on your native language and your target language. For example, I am listed as fluent in English and Spanish, with my target language being Japanese. As such, my feed is made up of native Japanese speakers learning either English or Spanish. But the feed is basically everyone on the app that meets that criteria, so there are a lot of posts from a lot of different people. They also have a few other feeds as well, such as a “Best” feed (I think this is for posts that are super active at that moment) and “Following” feed (made up of posts only from people you are following).
    (Please note, the following isn’t about social media clout, but making sure your posts get views so you can make connections and get corrections)
  • Because the primary feed is so full, you want to make your posts stand out. I love Japanese shoegaze, but a post about Japanese shoegaze won’t get as much “traction” as a post about going to a restaurant. Personally, if I feel like talking about Japanese shoegaze, I’ll combine it with a subject that is less niche. For example, I may talk about how I went out to a restaurant last night, and on the drive home, I blasted Pasteboard’s “Breakbeats” at full volume.
  • Also, I highly recommend not just posting in Japanese, but the English translation as well. This is useful in several ways. Numerous times, I have had more advanced English learners say something like, “Given what you’re saying in English, I think saying it this way in Japanese more accurately expresses what you are saying.” Not only will it help people who are trying to understand what you wrote in Japanese, it’s actually helpful to people learning English.
  • Lastly, if possible, always add a photo of whatever you’re talking about. Did you write about eating at a restaurant? Post a pic of the food. Did you see a movie? Post a pic of the movie poster. Posts with pictures are more likely to draw attention, resulting in more people reviewing your Japanese.

Scammers

  • I don’t really run into these anymore, but others do complain about them from time to time. Oddly enough, I also get non-Japanese speakers correcting my Japanese posts. These happen sometimes, so try to check their profile to see their language fluency. I’ve had Japanese friends on HelloTalk privately DM me and say stuff like, “yeah, so-and-so’s correction on your post from yesterday is completely wrong, they are not a native speaker.”

Sorry for the long post, had just been thinking about my experience with HelloTalk recently. Personally, I highly recommend it, no matter the level. If you feel like it’s time to do some output, I would add this to your arsenal. There are other features such as DMs, calls, group calls, and livestreams. I often will have a livestream going while doing other stuff for passive immersion. Super helpful.

19 Likes

Thanks for giving this thorough and deep review of the app. :slight_smile: I never tried it myself, but going forward I might need to pick up the habit of working on my output more. And I’ll remember this post for the pros/cons for sure. ^>^

1 Like

Thanks for the review! I used HelloTalk for a bit when I started learning Japanese, but I quickly got frustrated, not because of the Japanese but because of some fellow German natives who made horrible horrible mistakes in German and would even sometimes wrong-correct my corrections… and that’s just something I don’t need, thank you :sweat_smile: I mean, I know that German is super hard, and therefore I would hope for a bit more awareness in the other Germans, but no…
So I switched to Tandem and that worked much better for me.

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Definitely a high recommend (from me)

Yeah, I know what you mean. I use it for Japanese learning, and my wife uses it for Chinese learning. On both feeds, we constantly see completely wrong English corrections from English speakers, which is always annoying. I’ll have to check out Tandem, though!

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