I’ve been learning Spanish for years now. First in high school/college, then out in my travels, and then pretty heavily over the last 3 years as I’ve traveled full-time in Latin America. I’ve tried lots of language learning tools, some I’ve found effective, and some not so much. But one of the best ways I’ve found to advance my language learning, is to participate in Spanish language exchange – so I was really excited to learn about HelloTalk – an app that allows you to connect with native speakers all over the world for language exchange practice.
HelloTalk is a free app that has over 12 million users from around the world. You set up your native language, and then select what languages you are trying to learn. This allows you to easily find native speakers in the language you are learning, and also share your language skills with users looking to learn your own language.
Download the app here: HelloTalk App
The HelloTalk app language learning tool actually has tons of features and ways you can use it, so I’ll go into my favorite features below and walk you through how this Spanish language exchange app works:
Spanish Language Exchange and Language Learning Tool
For the purpose of this blog post, I will be focusing my review on Spanish language exchange within the HelloTalk app, since that is my experience, and since this blog has an emphasis on travel to Spanish-speaking countries. But the HelloTalk app can be used to learn just about any major language – people are using this language learning tool to practice and learn 100+ languages.
If you are planning to use HelloTalk to learn Spanish – there are around 600k native Spanish speakers using the app, and 330k people using it to learn Spanish. So there are plenty of people to practice your Spanish with! Anytime I have opened the app, I have found lots of people who are “online now” to do a Spanish language exchange with immediately.
Language Exchange Chats: HelloTalk Language Learning Tool
The language exchange chats are the most important and biggest reason to use the HelloTalk language learning tool app.
The interface is very easy to use, similar to other chat apps like Facebook messenger or Whatsapp, but with some extra language learning features.
You can hold down on each conversation bubble to find additional options – translate, correction, speak, transliteration, reply, copy, and favorites.. Let’s look at each one:
The translate option in this Spanish language exchange tool is awesome – with one click you can choose to translate what your language exchange partner has just said. I like this a lot because i can first work out what they said on my own, and then tap the translate with a click if I am unsure of a word, or want to double check myself.
The correction tool is an awesome language learning tool to help your language exchange partner. If you are practicing your Spanish and your language exchange partner notices that you’ve made a mistake with grammar or vocabulary, they can show you how to correct yourself. Every time I have chatted with someone, they have voluntarily used this feature with me. This is beyond valuable to learn your mistake and see the correction in real time.
The speak tool is great if you want to practice your pronunciation and listening skills in another language.
Transliteration is for when you are learning a language with a different set of characters from your own.
The reply option is just like in Whatsapp, you can choose to reply to a specific segment of the conversation so it’s clear what you are referring to.
The copy tool is very self explanatory – you can use this to copy text to save words/phrases or write them somewhere else.
The favorites tool, allows you to save parts of conversation that you can easily find in your favorites section of your profile later. This is great if you want to remember a new word, or save a correction your language exchange partner sent to you. You can then organize your favorites by tag later to find specific things like grammar, verb conjugations, etc..
All in all, this Spanish language exchange chat tool can be an amazing help. If you are taking lessons, or learning vocabulary, etc, this is a perfect way to practice what you are learning. And meet interesting people who can tell you about their cultures and lives.
The one important thing to remember is that you are talking to strangers. The only drawback I have experienced is that some men seem to want to use this to meet women like a dating app. HelloTalk is working hard to curb this, but be aware of this. I tend to gravitate to chatting with women so that I don’t worry so much about my language exchange partner’s intentions.
Search for Language Exchange Users: HelloTalk Language Learning Tool
You’ll most likely have people contacting you to chat right when you make a profile, but if you want to search for Spanish language exchanges partners yourself, this is the place to do it.
This language learning tool allows you to filter your search results based on several factors, which makes it really easy to find the best person to do a language exchange with. Here are the filter options:
This is HelloTalk’s smart way of filtering results based on a combination of factors like what information you have in your profile, who’s online now, etc..
This will filter only people who are online at the moment. This is a good way to find Spanish language exchange partners who are more likely to respond and chat with you immediately.
This one is really interesting if you are in a country that you want to practice the language (like me) or to find like-minded people nearby who are interested in learning languages.
I would just urge you to be careful with this. Again, remember these are strangers, if anyone wants to meet in person – be very cautious.
This is a system HelloTalk has created to rank users based on how much and how well they use the app. These users are very active.
Self Introduction (Audio)
There is an option to add an audio introduction on your profile – so these users have an audio introduction.
This is my favorite option – and the reason I find it so useful is you can search for a user’s location. As someone who is learning Spanish, I know how widely the language can vary all over Latin America and Spain. So if I want to focus on Mexican Spanish (the country that I am living in), I can search for Spanish language exchange partners who live in Mexico. This helps cut down on some confusion and vocabulary that I might not know or use.
You can also search by age, languages, and levels to make a more targeted search.
Moments – Language Exchange Social Media: HelloTalk Language Learning Tool
Moments is the section in this language learning tool that feels most like a social media network. This section of the app allows users to upload a few sentences, photos or videos.
This feature can allow you to interact with people in a really casual and natural way based on what they are thinking/posting about. It looks similar to a Twitter feed, and allows you to like and comment on people’s posts.
There are a couple of tabs in this section:
Default – HelloTalk’s filter of sorting people based on your profile and app use
Following – The users you have chosen to follow
Learn – Posts from users who’s native language is what you have selected to learn
Classmates – Other people who are learning the same language you are learning
I really like the Learn section of the Moments feature. Here I can read, interact, and learn from native Spanish speaking users in a natural way.
Learn: HelloTalk Language Learning Tool
This section of the language exchange app gives additional language learning tools like courses and podcasts.
A lot of the resources here are only available by subscription. You can access them by paying a yearly membership fee of $119.99/year.
However there are some free lessons, and some portions of lessons that are free to try out.
Lessons include an audio dialogue, vocabulary, and sentences. There is a longer dialogue and then highlighted sentences and phrases that you can replay separately and hear explanations about.
Final Thoughts on HelloTalk Language Learning Tool for Spanish Language Exchange
I’m really enjoying using HelloTalk app as a complement to my Spanish language studies. Right now I’m taking twice/week Spanish classes, and I’m loving practicing new verb tenses, grammar, and vocab in my chats between classes. It’s a great way to be practicing what you learn immediately.
I imagine this would be even more helpful/essential for those that are learning a language that isn’t the primary language of the country they live in. For example, if you are learning Spanish while living in the USA, there aren’t many natural ways for you to practice regularly. The HelloTalk app allows you to connect with native speakers in seconds.
I’ve never had a problem connecting immediately with dozens of native speakers at any time I was interested in practicing. People who are using this language learning tool seem to be eager and ready to practice their English or Spanish language exchange.
The only drawback that I have experienced is overeager men. I’ve never had anyone say anything inappropriate, just a couple times where they felt a bit pushy or I wasn’t sure of their intentions. But I have experienced this on almost every social media app I’ve used, and felt like I was able to manage this by picking and choosing who I would speak to, using common sense to make boundaries in my convos with strangers, and also gravitating towards chatting with women.
I’m excited to keep using this app during my studies to practice at any moment of the day, and hopefully meet some interesting people who can share some of their culture and daily lives with me as well.
Download the app here: HelloTalk App
Learn more about the app and the developers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqdjIT9AjgA
Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with HelloTalk. As always, all opinions are my own! I’ve been using the HelloTalk app for the last 2 months and finding it helpful as a complement to my weekly Spanish classes.