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I recently returned home to Australia and one of the first things I was made to do was sort through the many crates of stuff I had left in my parents roof. It’s all well and good to say you’re planning on selling everything you own to take off and travel the world, though when push comes to shove, there are sentimental items which you could never possibly throw. And when trading your life for full time travel, you need somewhere for these items to go. Learn a new lanaguage

Among the many piles of sheet music, awards, old school books, photos, university assessments, and postcards I had collected from sporadic trips abroad, I found bundles of letters. Letters from my high-school years, and letters which reminded me that, at one stage in my life, I spoke Japanese. At another stage in my life I spoke Spanish – well enough to correspond with pen pal’s in Costa Rica and Japan. How to learn a new language

Though if you asked me to translate these letters for you now I would have absolutely no clue. The Japanese characters on bright pink Hello Kitty stationary, ramblings of two excited teenage girls, are now completely foreign, and I have no idea as to what I once said.

As soon as I left high school I stopped corresponding with my friends, stopped practicing a different language, and that knowledge is now completely gone. It was too hard to stay in touch, and too difficult without a teacher there to help translate correspondence back and forth. Quickest way to learn a new language

But what a fantastic way to inspire your thirst for knowledge about the world, and what a fun approach to learning a new language; actually talking to people and making friends as you go.

I give my high-school credit for that initiative, and I did actually meet my Japanese pal on a year 9 language trip in 2003. It’s just a shame we’re no longer in touch. If only apps like Hello Pal had been around back then, perhaps we still would be! And perhaps I would still know how to speak Spanish and Japanese. How to learn a new language

You can hover over these (or any image) to quickly pin it!

The Social Language Chat App

When I started traveling, there weren’t the sleuth of technology, apps and start-ups which are around today, and it was very easy for a snail mail relationship to die out. It was also only through a sister-school partnership at my High School that I had the opportunity to meet and correspond with a foreign friend. Though fantastically, it’s now so easy to find foreigners from all over the world and strike up conversations, and these friendships are easier to maintain than ever before.

Social language chat apps like Hello Talk and Any Talk are popping up left right and center these days, though one app I have become particularly fond of is Hello Pal, which really stands out from the rest; an inventive, innovative and fun way to start speaking a foreign language in seconds. A free social language learning app that lets you make friends as you learn the language.

You can connect with a new pen-pal from anywhere in the world, communicate with them, in their language, without any prior knowledge of the language yourself. You’ll be able to speak any language at a much greater speed than ordinarily would have been possible. And you can do this all in the palm of your hand, without having left home. Though let’s be honest – it’s fun to travel and test out your new language in person too! Learn a new language fast

Japan exchange student

Hello Pal: Immersion is the Best Method for Language Learning

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could easily have a conversation with someone in a totally foreign language such as Chinese? Wouldn’t it be even cooler if you could do that in just a few minutes? How to learn to speak another language

To be speaking in a totally foreign language with someone else halfway around the world in minutes is a pretty bold claim, (and they do mean with your voice, not just using text translations), but Hello Pal have hit it home in recognizing that immersion really is the best method for language learning. And the app is super straight forward with little effort and fuss.

Rather than having you study boring and often complex grammar, syntax and vocabulary, Hello Pal chooses to throw you in the deep end (with flotation devices!) and teaches you how to swim.

You pair yourself with a native speaker, and there’s a unique phrase book integrated into its chat system which allows you to learn and speak on the go. Type or physically speak the phrases into your phone, and away you go! It’s that easy to begin a conversation, even in a language you didn’t know existed minutes before.

After you’ve spent a while chatting back and forth, you really do begin to pickup the new tongue. You quickly learn that the best way to learn a language is not by first learning about boring grammar rules and vocabulary, but by starting with what makes language learning fun; using the language and actually talking to people!

Let me put it this way, would you rather spend hours hunched over text books in a stuffy library, battling through grammar tomes, or chatting with real native speakers who can offer feedback on the spot and with whom you can actually get to know? Say Sayonara to expensive and boring classes where you give up before you’ve even spoken a single word of what you’ve learned to someone else. Instead, say Hola! to new language skills and new friends from all over the world!!

How Does Hello Pal Work?

First start a chat with a new pal and choose a language phrasebook, say Chinese. After you find the phrase you like, listen to the guide audio. Record yourself saying it and send it to your pal. And that’s it – you’ve just started talking in a foreign language with a new friend!

The app also helps to understand messages you get back, whatever the language. You’ll be on your way to learning new languages and making new friends in no time! Learn multiple languages and choose a many language pals as you want based on different criteria such nationality, native language and location. And there’s absolutely no pressure either – conversations are not in real time, you you can learn and chat at your own pace.

Literally in just a few minutes I was conversing with a native Japanese person in…wait for it…Japanese!

It’s a given that in the beginning, you’ll just listen and repeat. You’re mainly memorizing the sound of the phrases, and repeating them as you record the phrases to others. After a while of speaking the same phrases over and over again to many different people, you’ll find that you’ll start remembering how to say what you want to say and when you want to say it, without needing to use the Phrasebook for those phrases!

Once you start experimenting with modifying phrases using the Vocab List function, you’ll start to pick up new key vocabulary, and quickly multiplying the number of phrases you know how to say, and slowly building up confidence in your language ability. As you continue using the vocab lists, not only will you expand your vocabulary, but you will also get a better understanding of the structure of the phrase, and which words mean what.

Phrasebooks are like training wheels — you won’t need them after a while.

Pro Tip: At the beginning, save phrases like “I’m a beginner” or “I’ve just started learning” to tell your new friend that you’re just starting out. If you mimic the guide recordings too well, the other person may think you’re a fluent speaker and will then start talking to you at that level!

If you Travel you NEED Hello Pal

The landscape of travel planning is changing with apps like Hello Pal, and now instead of buying a guidebook or language phrasebook to help interact with locals while abroad, it’s possible to meet locals and start practicing a new language before you leave home. And why not start interacting with locals right now? Locals who could help shape the itinerary of your trip with inside advice.

These kind of social language apps are breaking down language barriers left and right, and if your aim is to connect and interact with other people in the world, you need this app. Technically you don’t even need to be traveling to enjoy it!

Here’s a quick summary of everything it’s got:

Match Yourself With Pals From All Over the World: Using Hello Pal’s filtering and matching abilities, you can easily find pals that suit your criteria. Filter by native language, learning language, nationality, location, etc.

The world is suddenly a much smaller place!

First in the World Phrase Books: Integrated into their chat system are unique Phrasebooks designed for online-chatting. Simply choose a phrase, listen to the professionally-recorded guide audio, and repeat after it. Then send it to your pal!

You’ll be learning and speaking, on the go!

Customizable phrases to suit you: Not only can you choose from 2000 phrases (organized in 14 categories and over 100 subsections), many of the phrases can be customized to suit your particular situation. For example:

“I also speak English ⇒ “I also speak French

“You look pretty ⇒ “You look cute

Choose from over 80 vocabulary lists and thousands of options.

Don’t just parrot – truly understand: Phrases also come with literal translations and comments where appropriate, giving you a much deeper understanding of what you’re saying, and revealing sentence structure and grammar.

Not only will these help you learn the language faster, but they will often also give you an insight into the culture behind the language!

Powerful translation tools: When not using Phrasebooks, you can still chat freely with your pal on any topic and in any language. Using the built-in translation tools, you can:

  • Translate incoming text messages
  • Translate what you wish to say into your pal’s language
  • Pronounce the translated text with the help of (i) guide audio; and (ii) romanized text for languages like Chinese (“pinyin”) and Korean.

This is the Part Where You Download the App!

Click to download now from the Google Play Store, download directly from Hello Pal, or help beta test the app for iOS (still in beta testing phase).


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Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging since 2007, with the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure. Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credits: Featured by The LEAF Project.


  1. This is exactly what we need. My daughter (15) was just accepted into a year long program in Argentina. Right now she is barely conversational in Spanish, but needs to up her game. Thank you for this post, and it’s perfect timing for our family.

    • Congrats on your daughter being accepted into exchange Rhonda! Highly recommend she pull up the app in that case -best way to up her game by chatting back and forth in Spanish now before she arrives :)

      Glad we could help you out! Wishing her all the best for her year abroad :)

  2. I speak Spanish but really need to move it to the next level.

    Will definitely give this app a go.

    Thanks Megan!

    E x

    • Definitely give the app a go Elle – the great thing about it is that you have access to native speakers, so you can really choose to start out at whichever level you like :)

      Have fun! Wishing you the best with your Spanish :)

  3. This looks like an interesting app! I’ve been trying out quiet a few language ones this year but none have been this interactive. They’re all been excellent at building vocabulary but actually using it in sentences is a huge challenge.
    I’m pretty lucky that I have a couple of friends who I can chat with on Skype/FB chat though.
    Unfortunately I have a super old phone and I’m limited to what apps I can get, most take up too much memory. I tried looking at this one just now but my phone was having none of it! Grrr!

    • Oh no, sorry to hear that Rachel! Maybe when you get a phone upgrade you can check out Hello Pal – it really is amazing how much more you become invested in learning when it’s an interactive experience. And when you’re actually enjoying it you progress so much quicker and farther because it doesn’t feel like work :)

      Glad to hear you’ve got a network of friends though who you can chat with. Hopefully we can pray to the phone gods and get you something new soon though :D

      Happy travels!

  4. Wow, this is super interesting! As you may recall, we’re both pretty embarrassed that we only speak English (but are learning Spanish) and we’re pretty tired of people assuming that we must speak more than one language! I’ll have to give this a go, it looks easy and fun :)


    • Glad you found it so Dariece! It’s definitely easy and definitely fun! And I’m with you on being embarrassed to only speak English – especially when you travel a lot and realize a lot of the world now speaks up to 3 languages and makes the effort to correspond with you in your own tongue.

      Have fun with the app! Maybe we can Skype in Spanish at some point :D!

  5. Wow — I’d never heard of this before, but seems like the perfect thing to learn a new language efficiently. And the photos here crack me up! :)

    • Haha lol glad you enjoyed the photos Lillie – the result of many years worth of decently boring language classes!! This app really is amazing in terms of becoming more efficient with learning – hope you enjoy it!

  6. This is so useful. I am currently learning Spanish and this app would be so helpful to keep practicing while I am in a non-Spanish speaking country. Will definitely check it out. Thanks for the post Megan!

    • Definitely is! Have fun with the app Tammy! It’s such an amazing opportunity to have native speakers available for you right there at your fingertips!

  7. Perfect timing – we were just lamenting we didn’t speak enough French up in Quebec! We’re committed to learning it now… What a fantastic app.

    • Glad to hear you can put the app to good use Jessie! Have fun with your French!

  8. What about chatting live with a native speaker online through a web service such as Talking Glass?

    I think that if used in conjunction with other language learning methods, both traditional and new (such as Hello Pal) it would rapidly increase the learning process.

    • Thanks for the tip Mary :) Hadn’t heard of Talking Glass so will head over and check it out. Happy Holidays! Here’s to learning new languages in 2016!

  9. This really looks easy and fun to use in mastering a new language. I think that its perfect timing for my brother who moved to Spain and is struggling learning the new language. Will definitely recommend this for him. Thanks a lot for sharing this Megan, and keep up the good work.


    • Glad we could help out Cindy – I hope the app helps your brother with his Spanish :) I’ve found that I’ve never really retained languages too well when trying to learn from a theory book, practical situations where you’re trying to communicate with an actual person have always proven to work!

      All the best :)

  10. Hey!!

    Its a very nice share..
    Well,I must say that these are really the best tips you have shared.

    There are many options available in this department. When it comes to learning a new language, you can attend classes, study the language online, as well as learn at your own terms, and at the comfort of your home.

    Also,you can find out what your learning style is – the most popular are visual and kinesthetic. Then, try to learn according to it.

    Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas..
    keep doing good work..
    God bless U!!

    • Hi Helen, I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the post :)

      I agree that it’s very helpful to figure out which learning style you respond best to – I’m personally a very visual person, so have seen the best results with this approach :)

      Thankyou for sharing your knowledge!

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