First and foremost, I am not an expert with either app. Both apps are free to use for either iOS or Android, and I suggest you try them yourself. In the following post, I’ll try to explain what I like about each app and why you will want to have both during your language studies. I will only talk about the free features of both apps, and both do have premium subscriptions. I will evaluate the premium versions in 2020.
HelloTalk is like FaceBook, but with better translation ability and of course, less users. Instead of the NewsFeed, HelloTalk has Moments. Moments let you post messages, pictures, and sound clips in the language you are studying. Native speakers can see those messages and then comment on your pronunciation, grammar, etc. My biggest issue with HelloTalk is that there is no video communication or facetime equivalent, without paying for premium.
- Easy translation feature in text messages
- Social media feature of Moments, a public post to native speakers
- Voice notes and correction features
- If you really love this app, there is an expensive, but one time pay feature for premium
- Many users
- Ads don’t seem intrusive
- VideoChat only an option with premium
- Ads unless you use premium
I have had good luck with Tandem. Tandem appears to offer the many features as HelloTalk, but Tandem also provides video chat for free. It is my hunch that offering video chat is low hanging fruit for an app. I say this because I assume that the app can harness certain features of the smartphone, like the camera, microphone, etc. In other words, I’m not sure why Tandem has video chat, and HelloTalk does not. In my opinion, being able to see another person is helpful when learning another language. Especially when it comes to accent. You can observe the way a person’s mouth is moving and potentially get an idea of how your mouth needs to form to make similar sounds. Unfortunately, video chat is not helpful if both parties don’t have fast enough internet.
- VideoChat feature is included with the free account
- Ability to leave references about users
- There is a user reporting system if needed
- All features seem available without paying for premium
- Like many apps (including HelloTalk) Tandem has bugs
- Messages can have a delay
- I experienced the incoming call ringtone continuing after the call has started, muting notifications worked to silence the ringtone
- No one-time premium payment like HelloTalk, there is only monthly subscriptions
I would suspect your level of success with either app may depend on your chosen language of study. In other words, one app might be more popular with a particular language than the other app. I’ve had difficulty finding the usage stats by country for these apps, so you may want to try both. After all, each app tackles language exchange differently. HelloTalk handles language exchange more like modern social media, with posts and lots of messages. This will give you some quality practice reading and writing in your target language. Tandem makes it easy to have a face to face realtime language exchange for free, letting you practice your pronunciation and listening skills. Both apps will connect you with users that are interested in learning your native language.