Have you ever felt that unexplainable need and craving to learn new languages, to immerse yourself fully in the culture of countries not your own and to interact with locals of these different countries in their own native language?
I have. Countless times. I will admit, however, that the countries closest to my heart are Japan and Korea, because they have been important parts of my life as I was growing up.
My love for Japanese anime as a child spurred on my interest in the Japanese language and culture, and My half-Japanese seat mate in sixth grade further fueled my desire to learn Japanese whenever she would share tidbits about Japan and some useful words or phrases.
However, my learning and improvement in the language was quite limited because I had no proper resources to rely on — this was 2005, after all, where books were the go-to resource and e-books were not as widely circulated as they are today — and I had no one else except my half-Japanese seat mate to practice the language with. It was only when I entered university in 2010 that I was able to practice my Japanese and improve tremendously as I joined a Japanese culture studies organization where I was able to interact with Japanese nationals and practice conversing with them in Japanese.
It was through this experience that I realized that no matter how many vocabulary lists you master, or how many grammar concepts you understand, nothing will ever integrate a new language into your mind as constant usage and practice of the language ever will. This is why language schools today are very particular with making conversation classes or practice time a must — it is only through putting the language into good use will the speaker’s learnings be reinforced and their knowledge in the language retained.
This is why I am very thankful that I have come across Hello Pal just as I started taking interest in learning Korean seriously. It is by far the most innovative way to learn new languages and have fun meeting new, interesting friends at the same time, too! It has certainly helped people break beyond language barriers and changed the game for people who love learning languages (like me!) and for those who travel often and thus need an easy, quick way to learn the local language of wherever they’re headed.
But what is Hello Pal?
Hello Pal is a FREE social language learning app where phrase books, vocabulary lists, translation tools and an integrated social network and chatting platform are all seamlessly blended into one very light (only 20MB for Android!) language learning tool. It stays true to the principle of believing that the best way to learn a language is where speaking comes first, learning comes second and encourages its users to “learn and speak on the go.”
There is no need for you to know a single word of Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, or any language that you wish to learn. Simply install the app on your device, sign up for an account, and you’ll be on your merry way towards exchanging your first 안녕하세요 (Hello in Korean) with a new friend! Here’s a screen shot of the Sign In/Register screen that you’ll see as soon as you install the app.
Let’s explore Hello Pal!
As soon as you have registered or logged into your Hello Pal app for the first time, you need to set up your profile and set up a few preferences, including your native language, the language that you want to learn, and other languages that you can also speak. This is for their database of users that will help in filtering and matching you with people who best suit your interests when it comes to learning languages. Here are the settings I’ve chosen for mine.
Once your profile’s ready and all set, finding new pals and initiating a chat with them is as easy as pie! Make the most out of your Hello Pal experience by filtering the suggested users according to spoken language, learning language, nationality, current location and age group. This way, Hello Pal helps you connect with the pals you can truly have a language exchange with. It’s like having a social network of pen pals (like in the old days where people fancied snail mail) but with the added convenience of getting swift, immediate replies!
But wait, that’s not all. Hello Pal also contains a translation app built into the system so you can translate from your native language to your learning language as you go and as you chat with your new-found pal. Pretty convenient. Say hello to efficiently communicating with people all over the world from day one! Hello Pal truly helps users transcend borders and connect despite the language barrier.
In the short time that I’ve been on Hello Pal, I’ve had the privilege to meet several interesting personalities who were very enthusiastic to learn English. And yes, you guessed right — they’re from South Korea, which also gives me an opportunity to practice my Korean when I chat with them! Here’s a sample chat with one very interesting fellow though — he’s Korean but has lived elsewhere for a while and also speaks Japanese! How cool is that? 🙂
The one single thing that sealed the deal for me with Hello Pal, however, would be the fact that its built-in phrase books are also available as separate apps! These are useful as learning tools that I can access when I’m bored but do not have immediate access to an internet connection, which the phrase books in the main Hello Pal app are dependent on.
Depending on your display preferences for the app, there are Lite and Full Phrasebook — the difference being that the Lite one only show the most important phrases or words, while the Full Phrasebook shows a variety of words with several topics to choose from!
Overall, Hello Pal is a really enjoyable app to use — one that makes language learning fun and worthwhile while allowing its users to go beyond the limits of their comfort zones to connect with others. Why not join in the fun? Hello Pal is available for Android on Google Play and for iOS on the App Store.
Go on, click that ‘Install’ button, and have fun chatting away!