Apr 26, 2022
HelloTalk is a social media app for language exchange. It’s similar to Twitter, where you have a profile, can post Moments (instead of tweets), and direct message other people. The feed shows Moments by people who are native in the language(s) you’re learning, and are studying your native language. Moments can include images or audio recordings. Other people can reply in the comments. One of the features is being able to correct the someone’s grammar, sentence by sentence, and it shows where the changes were made. You can search for people based on language or location to find language partners. And then you can also have short calls with them, evenly split between each other’s language. There is testing for a new feature: live video streams. Right now, only people who are some kind of teacher and have another social media presence of language learning/teaching can apply. So there aren’t that many. But anyone can join to listen and chat.
I first started using this app 6 years ago, and have used it off and on. I didn’t care much about the social media aspect of it, and only found a few partners. When I lived in Japan, I was able to find someone who lived in my small rural town, and we became friends. He showed me around and invited me to a few BBQs. I also made friends with a Chinese person who lives in Japan through the app. We later met in Tokyo. After I returned to the USA, we have stayed in contact and call each other weekly for language exchange.
A couple days ago, I installed the app again. This time, I want to take advantage of the Moments. I’m used to publishing daily with these ship its and have experience with using Twitter. So now, I know how to get and add value. Before, it just seemed like everyone was posting superficial stuff (which can’t really be helped when you’re a beginner in learning a new language.) This time, I want to take advantage of the new features like the calls, to practice my speaking, and also the audio Moments.
The app is free with ads and limitations. That was another reason I kept uninstalling it. One year, I did pay for a year subscription. It was the first time I actually paid for a phone app. I bought a Google Play code card from a convenience store in Japan, since I didn’t want to link any of my payment information. It was quite expensive for being my first phone purchase: about $60-70. Well, yesterday I decided to go for lifetime access, which was the same price as going for 2-3 years. Now I don’t have to worry about taking advantage of one year’s time and then reconsidering whether to continue. One of the advantages with a subscription is being able to choose more than one language to learn. So I can see Moments by both Japanese and Chinese people. My Moments will also be more prominent, meaning I can receive more feedback about my language output.
Today, a Japanese man in his 40’s asked in a Moment about which app is better, Evernote or Onenote. That got me excited. I shared How to choose the right note-taking app and explained that I prefer Notion and Obsidian. Another American commented that she also uses Obsidian! It was so cool to meet a PKM fan outside of my BASB and PKM circles. I gave a suggestion of Readwise, and she was excited to check that out.
I think using HelloTalk is the next step for my consistent publishing. No one knows me, and I don’t have a reputation about PKM tools. (No one will see my comment in that one guy’s Moment other than the few people who interacted in it, because comments are not shown on my profile history.) So I’m free to talk about whatever, unlike how I feel about Twitter. Also, the feed is not curated by who you follow. It’s a chronological feed of anyone native to the languages I have chosen to learn. So there is no consistency to the content, and no algorithmic recommendations.