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The coolest way to learn Chinese: Hello Pal!

Hello Pal - A World of Friends


What's the best way to learn a language quickly and efficiently?

As a transnational couple, language learning has always fascinated us, but we are not fans of the traditional learning methods (i.e. classes). We think that language learning should be fun, and that there has to be a simpler way to learn. 

Luckily there is a new app that we think is going to revolutionise language learning: 

Weasel squad, meet Hello Pal:


Hello Pal Logo

Hello Pal is a free social language learning app which lets you have a conversation with someone in a completely foreign language within minutes!

Yes, you can speak Chinese within minutes! Can you believe it? We couldn't, so we tried it out to see if it was for real. 


And to be fair, we let the one of us who isn't a lingual genius try it out first (i.e. me, Laura). 




My first impression was that it was a really easy app to use. I'm the kind of person who will give up on an app if it's not really obvious how to use it, but with Hello Pal there was no danger of me doing that, everything was super clear. 

I started by filling in my profile, giving my name, a cute photo, the languages I can speak and the language I am learning: 

Hello Pal Screenshot
 Hello Pal Screenshot

Next I searched for a pal, I simply clicked 'Chat' on the bottom left and then the '+' on the top right, which takes you to here: 


Hello Pal Screenshot

As you can see there are lots of different criteria, I'm not fussy so I just searched for people who were fluent in Chinese (Mandarin), - but I could already see that on another day I could use this app to find people in a certain location. Anyway my first search led me to this: 


Hello Pal Search Screenshot

People of a similar age to me who were native Chinese speakers! Boom! 

Then I was free to start chatting. This is where things really started to get fun:

I clicked on a random native person and pressed the chat button. Then I selected the phrases button at the bottom of the screen (i.e. the button that looks like a book):


Hello Pal Chat Screenshot


I clicked basics and was given, you guessed it, a few basic phrases:


Hello Pal Chat Screenshot


Obviously I wanted to start with hello so I clicked on that one. It gave me all the information I needed - the pinyin, the Chinese characters and the literal English translation:


Hello Pal Chinese



Perhaps most importantly, by pressing on the play button, it told me how to say ni hao properly. 


So, through minimal effort, I was ready to say my first Chinese words! I hit the record button and recorded myself.

Luckily, it gave me the option of reviewing what I'd said. One of the dogs we're House Sitting  obviously wanted to say ni hao too, and barked at the same moment I said it. 

So I clicked the red button and tried again. 

This time I was happy so clicked the green button and off my ni hao went to this real native speaker. 


Hello Pal Chat Screenshot


She replied straight away and we started chatting! It was bizarre how easy it was to communicate. She sent me a few phrases and the app translated them for me. 

Encouraged, I started talking to more people. All of them were really nice and most replied straight away. They all said that my Chinese was really good. I obviously have Hello Pal to thank for that!

There is also the option of typing to your new friends, to improve your Chinese typing!

Wait, how do you type in Chinese?

How to type to your new Hello Pals in Chinese
Use pinyin

As you saw above, when you learn a new Chinese word on Hello Pal, it gives you: 
the English - hello, 
the Chinese - 你好,
and the pinyin - ni hao 

At first I just thought this was a way for Westerners to know how to pronounce the Chinese symbols, but it's so much more than that. 

Go into your settings and add the pinyin keyboard to your phone/tablet. Then, using the pinyin keyboard, you simply have to type in ni hao and it will change it automatically into 你好!Yey!

Here is one of my Hello Pal conversations, using a mixture of English, Chinese and emojis. 


Hello Pal Chat



So not only did I learn within minutes to talk to native Chinese speakers, I also learnt how to chat with them too. I was really impressed and eager for more. 

Are there any down sides to Hello Pal?
I really like Hello Pal, I think it gives you everything it says it will, and more, but are there any down sides to it?

For me the biggest down side is that I am addicted to it, I can spend all day on there, which is great for my Chinese, but not so great for my mounting workload! This isn't really a downside though, the app is a great idea and has been beautifully designed, but it really wouldn't be very useful if you didn't have lots of people to speak to - which you do!

I am also having a lot of non Chinese people contact me looking for English tips, which is another great thing about this app - it's not just for learning Chinese! I am having to exercise a lot of self control to stop myself from learning Japanese, Italian, Russian and Thai too! 

Conclusion
In conclusion, I am 100% impressed by Hello Pal, it delivers what it promises: you truly can have a conversation with someone in a completely foreign language within minutes. I highly recommend that you download Hello Pal right now and start making connections with your new pals!

If you'd like more information on Hello Pal, check out their website: http://www.hellopal.com or ask us on Facebook, Twitter or (our personal favourite) Instagram.


Have you ever tried to learn a foreign language? What are your tips? Let us know in the comment below! 




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ABOUTME

We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same!

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