For the longest time, I’ve dreamed of being able to speak in several languages. Why? For one, I love to visit interesting places and learn other cultures. Knowing another language is a big plus in traveling. I think it is also really advantageous career-wise for someone to be proficient in more than one language. Plus, excuse the little kid in me, but I think it’s really cool to be multilingual, right?!
Right now, I’m bilingual. I speak English and Filipino quite well. But I’d really like to learn three more: Spanish, Japanese, and Italian. I was able to learn basic Spanish back in college. Over the years, I’ve been trying to improve on it.For Japanese, I got an introduction to the culture and language when I taught English to Japanese students a few years ago. One of my dear students gave me a grammar book as a parting gift. Unfortunately, I got to skim through it only a few times. With Italian, well, my progress is dismally slow. I could basically say, goodbye and hello plus a few other words I occasionally forget. I know my brain cells definitely need a language boost.
Most of the time, I’ve relied on books to brush up on these languages but I must admit, it has become increasingly difficult through the years. I needed something to go with my busy schedule as an employee and now, as a stay at home mom. I also wanted some interaction because learning a foreign language by yourself can be boring at times.
So, when I saw a post in one of my online groups about a FREE social language learning app called Hello Pal, I got intrigued and excited too.
Interestingly, Hello Pal allows you to chat with people in a foreign language in real time! This means, if I’m trying to learn Spanish, I could chat with someone online in Mexico! Isn’t that great?
I immediately downloaded it from Google Play and was ecstatic that it was relatively easy to use. First, I needed to fill in my profile with my name, a photo, the languages I can speak and the language I am learning ( screenshots from here on are from my mobile phone):
Then, I searched for pals fluent in Spanish. There were several people that came up and I chose randomly. I clicked the chat button and started engaging in a conversation with native speakers.It was unbelievably that simple!
10 things I love about the Hello Pal app:
· I get to talk with a native speaker in real time! I was able to communicate with someone in Mexico and Japan.
· I can instantly switch languages by using first-in-the-world phrasebooks depending on my needs. I could change languages depending on who I’m talking to. You just need to click the flag button at the bottom left of the screen to change the language phrasebook.
· I found my pals according to my own criteria. For example, I was able to choose their gender (female) and age group (25-35). You can even choose the current location of your language pal.
· I can easily practice listening and speaking during chats. I get to improve my pronunciation by listening intently to professionally recorded audio using the phrasebooks. Furthermore, The microphone button allows me to record,review and send voice messages.
· It has great built in translation tools! When I was talking to a Japanese person, I just clicked on her message and it gave me an option to translate into words or characters. So, I was able to follow the conversation with my newfound Japanese pal.
· The customizable phrases help me effortlessly change words in sentences depending on the flow of conversation. For instance with the sentence” I live in the city of Los Angeles.” I could change the underlined word with “Manila”. This makes small talk a lot easier.
· The cute emoticons make the conversations livelier.
· Play and discover icons add excitement to language learning. These buttons found at the bottom of the interface allow me to test my vocabulary and find additional resources.
· Since it’s an app, it’s as handy as my mobile phone. I don’t need big bulky books and CDs to continue learning anymore. I can learn even while doing housework. I can also skip dreaded grammar lessons in favor of practical and conversational phrases.
· Best of all, it’s FREE! As a budget conscious mommy, this is a great feature! I don’t need to spend more money on classes and books just to learn a foreign language.
The truth is, I don’t know if I’d ever be a polyglot.But for now, I’m just happy having a great app that allows me to speak a foreign language without much effort.I could learn in just minutes!
How bout you? Do you want a new and hassle free way to learn a new language? Are you itching to practice what you’ve learned with a live native speaker? Hello Pal is just a click away!