You’re learning English. You joined HelloTalk and are eager to practice. But… you can’t find anyone to talk to! ? Wouldn’t it be great to know how to quickly find an English language partner?
The HelloTalk looks similar to messaging apps like WeChat or Whatsapp. Because of this similarity many people are tempted to try use it in exactly the same way, but there are a few crucial differences between these apps and HelloTalk.
Most messaging apps are used to chat with people you already know. HelloTalk is primarily a language exchange app — the goal of using it is different. Your aim on HelloTalk is to make new friends, practice a language, and learn something new about another culture. To achieve this, you need to approach HelloTalk in a different way to other messaging apps.
In short: Achieving a new goal requires a new approach.
Of course, not all of HelloTalk users are learning English. The advice below is applicable to anyone who has problems finding a language partner. The reason why we mention English here is simply that it’s the language we get the most questions about! ^_^
HelloTalk has a lot of features; it can be overwhelming at first! Rather than trying to jump straight in and do everything at the same time, it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about what you want to achieve.
This post is focused on helping you find a conversation partner. It lists things to consider when you start communicating with others.
Complete Your HelloTalk Profile.
Your HelloTalk profile is like your business card. It a short introduction to who you are for people who you’ve never met in real life.
It’s hard to summarise your interests and personality on such a small screen. We know that we’re awesome people (aren’t we all?) — the trick is communicating this to others who read your profile.
Why is this important?
Imagine you get two messages on HelloTalk. Both have the same content: “Hi!”. You look at the profiles and see both senders have no favourites, and have never used translations or voice messages. Clearly both profiles belong to new users.
One belongs to someone who didn’t add a picture, and has just one sentence in the description: “I’m here to practice my English”. The other message comes from a user who has written about their interests, and wrote a short paragraph about their study goals, their job, and their pet dog Fluffy.
Whose message do you reply to?
Most likely the second user.
Now imagine being an English speaker on HelloTalk. You might be getting ten new requests a day! They can’t reply to all of them. By being open, and sharing some interesting parts of yourself on your profile, you’re making people much more likely to reply to you.
Don’t just list your native language and the language you want to learn. Show others how awesome you are! ?
2. Add an Appropriate Picture.
This is also about improving your profile. Your picture is even more of a business card than the text! It’s the first thing people see when they get a message from you, before they even decide to check out who you are.
Why is this important?
It’s much easier to relate to people whose faces we recognize. Knowing someone’s face makes a connection much more personable, and makes it easier to empathize with the person.
A shot of you on a motorbike is definitely cool, but it will make it impossible to see what you look like underneath the helmet! HelloTalk doesn’t allow to people to enlarge your picture, so no one will be able to zoom in to see your face.
Add a picture that clearly shows your face. Avoid elements that cover it like sunglasses, large hats (or motorbike helmets!), masks, and other things.
A smile is another thing that makes you more approachable. We tend to mirror the facial expressions of those we see, so seeing a smiling face is an invitation to smile back. That burst of happiness you generate with a cheerful profile picture helps others develop positive feelings towards you?
We are all humans, and we want to make a connection with another human. Adding a shot of your dog or your hoover as a profile picture will make it hard for others to connect with you.
A Note On Trust
What you aim to achieve with your profile — both in words and with your picture — is to build trust. People are often suspicious of strangers on the internet, and it’s the same with new connections on HelloTalk. If you don’t share information about yourself, people will think you are trying to hide something! ?
By adding a nice picture and completing your profile, you are showing that you are a genuine user, not an internet weirdo! You’re sending a message that you’re interested in meeting new people, and are happy to share information about yourself.
For more on how to write a welcoming and successful profile check out this post.
3. Think About Your Search Strategy.
Now that you have your profile ready and a great picture, it’s time to hunt… Just kidding of course! It’s time to get yourself out there, and find people to chat with.
There are around 11 million users on HelloTalk. That’s a lot. In fact, that’s more than the population of New York City! ? You will need to figure out your search criteria to make sure you’re connecting with the right people.
You can set the criteria by going to Search at the bottom of the app, and tapping the magnifying glass icon in the upper right-hand corner.
The first thing to consider is probably obvious — the language the user speaks. But, worry not! The users’ native languages and the language they’re learning will be set for you automatically in the search, so, by default you will see people who are learning the language you speak, and whose native language is the one you want to learn.
Next thing to think about is the age range. Of course, we do not encourage you to discriminate against anyone based on their age. However, it is often a little easier for us to connect with and understand people in the same age range as ourselves. We are at similar stages in our lives, tend to face similar problems, and often have similar interests.
This is of course not always the case, but what we’re trying to do here is to increase the likelihood of a successful connection. Setting an age range similar to yours definitely helps!
You might consider searching by a particular region, country or city. This will limit the number of people you find, but can help ensure the speakers are in similar time zones. It’s also useful if you are interested to learn more about life in a specific place, but for the purpose of finding your first HelloTalk friend it’s not really necessary to change this setting. You can just set Region and City to Any.
When you go back to the main search screen you’ll notice the top left-hand corner says Best Match. This means the app is showing you a list of people who match the search criteria you defined before.
If you expand the list you can further sort the search based on other qualities. A handy feature here is the Self-Introduction option, that only shows people who have content in their profile description.
Now you know another reason why we asked you to fill in your profile! It’s to make sure that you too appear in that search! ?
There are many great teachers on HelloTalk. Whether they are teachers by profession or a hobby, many users lead study groups and post a lot of valuable English teaching content. If you’re looking for people who you only want to follow, not to chat to, you can also expand your search criteria.
Whether you are immediately successful in your search or not, follow HelloTalk Community (@hellotalkcommunity). We are a growing group of learners and language fans, regularly posting competitions and conversation prompts. Engage with us, and there is a high chance you’ll make friends within our community too!
4. Before You Send Your First Message.
If you find cool people, you probably want to message them straight away. We know the feeling! But there are a few things you can do before you hit the send button to make your message more successful.
Read the profile. If you’ve written a profile yourself, you know how long it takes to decide what to share there, and to craft something that reads well. You put in this effort so that others could appreciate your personality. Now it’s your turn to appreciate others!
- Take a look at this person’s interests. Do you share any?
- Look through their stats, number of translations, favorites, and messages sent. Are they an active user?
- Check out their latest Moments, if they’ve shared any. What else can you learn about them from these posts?
Just as it’s important to decide who to message, it’s equally necessary to figure out who is not a right match. If you see the user doesn’t share your values, or posts Moments that make you feel upset or uncomfortable, you may not want to message them.
There are many different, but equally valid, outlooks on life. We don’t all have to agree. It’s perfectly OK to decide not to message someone. There are plenty of people with whom you will find common ground.
5. Engage Your Partner In a Conversation
When you contact a new person on HelloTalk don’t just broadcast a message to everyone, like on the radio. Engage the person in a conversation and invite them to reply.
It’s really boring to see an inbox of ten messages each saying just Hi or Hello. Of course that doesn’t mean these messages aren’t friendly, but the recipient probably only has time to reply to one or two new requests a day. We all have busy lives outside of HelloTalk too.
Making your message different will help it stand out, and make it more likely to get a response.
How do we do that?
In step four above you read the profile of your potential conversation partner. It’s time to use this information. If there was anything that you found interesting, or any common interest you found in their profile, bring it up in your opening line.
Here are some examples:
- Hey Greg, I noticed in your moments that you have a dog. Me too! What’s yours called?
- Great profile, Martin! You sound like a really cool person.
- Hey Sofia! I like fashion too, who is your favourite designer?
- Sam, the picture of the meal you cooked look delicious! Do you cook a lot?
If these are too long, you can still opt for a shorter alternative that will come across better than a commonplace hi:
- Hey Bob, how’s your day going?
- Hello Gretchen, I’d love to chat!
- Heyo, what are you up to this weekend?
6. Don’t panic!
You’ve followed all the steps and sent your first message. Or maybe you even messaged a few people. Congratulations either way! ? It can be intimidating to write to a stranger in a foreign language, and you did it! That’s already a big step forward!
So… what now, you may be asking?
You wait five minutes. You wait ten. Hmm… you’ve waited an hour and no one has written back… ?
Don’t be discouraged! Not everyone will reply immediately. Here are a few things to bear in mind:
- Time zones. You might have messaged the recipient while they were asleep! Give them time to start their day.
- Life. We are all busy. Just because you have free time doesn’t mean the other person has time to reply!
- Priorities. You learned a lot from this person’s profile. One thing you can’t know for sure, is how involved they are in HelloTalk. Maybe they used to be active but aren’t anymore? Maybe they already have many people they talk to regularly, and simply don’t have time to chat to more friends.
Don’t be offended if you don’t get a reply. There might be many reasons for it, and trust us, no one does it on purpose to be rude to you. Give people time and try to understand their priorities.
Tip: Send your message and go do something else. Don’t stare at the screen waiting for results! ? If your notifications are on you will know as soon as you get a reply, and it’ll save you a lot of unnecessary stress.
If nothing happens for a day or so… repeat the process from step 3 and send a few more messages! Now that you are proficient in writing them, it will be very easy to find new people you want to connect with.
It’s time to get messaging!
P.S. Remember to join @hellotalkcommunity to expand your circle of friends quickly.