Introducing Quizlet

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I am in the midst of studying the Japanese language when I chanced upon a mobile app Quizlet a few days ago. It is a very beautifully designed learning app that enchants me the moment I started using it. This app is very useful for language learning and its primary strength lies in the various features of vocabulary compilation and testing. Quizlet is probably not a new app and it should be around for quite a while now, but it’s apparent that the Quizlet team has not let up their effort to enhance their app over time.

Quizlet enables user to set up an account and create vocabulary lists soon after. The main feature of the app uses flash cards as the primary learning tool. For my personal use, I usually place the English word on one side of the online flash card, with the same word in kanji, Hiragana/Katakana and romaji on the other side. For instance, while the word “book” is featured on one side, “本/ほん/hon” will be indicated on the other side.

Once you have finished compiling your vocabulary list (note: there seems to have very high word limit which is great, as I have a set which goes as high as 41 words), you can start to test yourself once you have familiarised yourself with the words in all its forms and variations. There are three features on the app which you are able to use:

  • Flashcard: This is the typical online equivalent of the hardcopy flash cards language users often use in their language learning.
  • Learn: This “Learn” feature provides you with the content on one side of the card and you are supposed to figure out the word on the other side. For my Japanese learning, “本/ほん/hon” will be shown while I have to type its corresponding word “book” to get this correct. The app has a tracking device on this feature such that it will re-test you if you get the word right. Of course, all humans err, so if users happen to mistype, they can always click on the “I mistype” button, and the app will disregard the mistake. The test completes in intervals within the sets, so users is able to rest or even leave the app. When they return, they are able to choose to continue the test, so just start all over by tabbing on the “restart” option.
  • “Match”: This “match” feature allows users to match one side of the flash card with the other with numerous flash cards shown to the users simultaneously. Users then match the flash card as and when they find a match. For those who like a greater challenge, a timing is always provided at the point of completion, so users are always able to improve themselves. After all, competing with ourselves is much better than competing with others, right?

A few days after using the app, I begin to wonder if there is a desktop version, so I searched online and found it!  I realise that the desktop version contains a much more comprehensive set of features than the mobile app version!

On top of the three features as mentioned above, below are the primary features available on the desktop version:

  • Speller: This “speller”  feature reads out a word and users are to type in the correct word. Users are free to play the pronunciation of the words again and again. Should users type in the wrong word,  the system will reveal the answers, repeating the word slowly with a strikethrough over the wrong letters, while inserting the missed letters – highlighted and underlined for greater visual emphasis.
  • Test: This “test” feature is an overall test on how proficient users are with the use of these words. It  comes in four sections:

i.   Fill in the blanks

ii.  Matching questions

iii. Multiple Choice Questions

iv. True / False questions

The number of questions that are answered correctly and the respective percentages will be shown upon the completion of the test. Should users fail to answer some questions correctly, they have the option of starting all over again or just testing themselves the questions they had gotten wrong. By default, the test contains a maximum of 20 questions but users are able to select to test themselves all the questions in the set should they decide to do so. Users are also able to remove any specific testing component.

  • Scatter: This “scatter” feature is the equivalent of the “Match” feature for the app version. However, the spatial distance is greater for the desktop or laptop version so the learning experience is – to me- much better. Once again, a time is given upon completion of the test for users to do better next time.
  • Space race: This is not an original creation when it comes to word games but it’s probably the first or among the first when it comes to learning tools. Users are asked to type the corresponding words as  their counterparts in another language floats across the screen, and the words speed up as the users “level up”. When users type the right word for the tested words, the latter disappear and pints are scored. The game will stop once all the lives are used up (Lives are lost when words successfully floats across the screen when users failed to key in the correct answers).

Besides the learning tools, there is also the results collation page whereby users are given a preview on how many times they got certain words wrong per vocabulary list (where they are able to “star” these items together to study later),  group these words together (yes, even alphabetically), create folders for all the various vocabulary lists, share their vocabulary lists with online users, search for other relevant vocabulary lists (only if other users have placed their lists as “viewable by everyone”), and many more functions that I have yet to explore.

One of the most impressive Quizlet features I have come across for the desktop version is the capability of the system to print out a PDF version of the word list after users have completed compiling and editing the lists. The layout is very professional and looks very impressive! Please have a look below for a preview:

Japanese Train station words (Quizlet)

I will highly recommend Quizlet to anyone who is interested in learning a foreign language.

Have fun using Quizlet!

Patrick Tay is an English Language and Life Skills Training Specialist  who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and international affairs at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at teachingwithart@gmail.com.

Alphabear” word game tips

alphabear

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I have recently chanced upon a word game on my mobile phone by the name of “Alphabear”. It strikes me as interesting as the term ‘alpha” is usually associated with more carnivorous mammals such as wolves, so I decided to have a trial play. After dabbling with it for just a day, I find the game to be fun and more importantly, word games such as this trains players in pattern recognition (a concept which is similar to “Candy Crash”, but in letters and not so much in colour).

Some tips for this word game (which is also typical for most other word games except..well, the last advice below):

  • Increase the word length of the word: This sounds like a no-brainer but most gamers are still sticking to two- to four-letter word without putting in additional effort to construct lengthier words, where greater points usually await! In a timer mode, this may be more challenging but the bonuses that comes with it are even greater. So, gamers, please do not deny yourself the challenge, and the rewards!
  • Always lengthen the words at the end: Gamers should always strive to lengthen the words at the end. Use the knowledge of your grammatical syntax to the max! For instance, if you create the word “play”, experiment with word variations to form longer words. Some examples include “plays”, “player”, “players”. “playing”, “playful” and more! You can also explore adverbs for words such as “luck” (think “luckily”)
  • Look at the entire game board: Like Scrabble, explore the entire game board before deciding on which words you want to use. If you are not in a timed game (“Alphabear” has both timed and non-timed versions, of which you should play both), try constructing different words and see how the scores play out. Choose the word with the larger score and go with it.
  • Construct words using the tiles that is turning to stone first: In “Alphabear”, word tiles turn to stone in about 5 turns, so please make sure that these tiles are used first. If not, they will hinder the bears from turning bigger, which means scoring greater points!

On the whole, this is a very interesting game!

Like most word games, it trains the mind in mental agility and word/pattern recognition.I strongly recommend “Alphabear” as a game for language learners!

Patrick Tay is an English Language and Life Skills Training Specialist  who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and international affairs at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at teachingwithart@gmail.com .

Discussing the significance and joys of teaching

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Why would anyone choose teaching as a profession?

There are different reasons why someone would like to choose teaching as a lifelong career. But before we discuss this, let’s have a look at why teaching may not be an attractive profession for some.

In Singapore, the Ministry of Education has always encouraged working professionals to enter the teaching sector, and this includes professionals who are making mid-career switches. This open approach to teacher recruitment is not indicative of a lack of teachers but more in terms of how educators are valued in the country. The employment market within the country is competitive when it comes to talents recruitment and the teaching profession may not have one of the strongest pull factors. On the contrary, there are many tertiary students who look to professions with greater prospects of a higher monetary remuneration, such as banking, accounting and finance.

This is not a local trend. In fact, it could well be a global one. In Singapore, the number of literature student intake is dropping. In Japan, some universities have closed their social studies and humanities programmes to “serve areas that better meet society’s needs”. All in all, there have been a trend of a drop or loss of emphasis on the social sciences and humanities. Of course, there’s no direct indicator that the loss in interest in the social sciences and the humanities is in any way, linked to people’s aspirations for greater monetary remuneration but the possible of a causal relationship exists.

Generally, local educators in the civil education service are paid well for the teaching positions but there are other commercial and industrial sectors that offer higher pay. Hence, the teaching position – while attractive to those who find a calling in teaching – may not be alluring enough to those who have different life aspirations.

You have not answered the question yet. Why would anyone choose teaching as a profession?

To choose teaching as a profession, there are several qualities that one should possess. The most important quality in teaching, is a passion for it. Now, “passion” is a tricky word. To me, “passion = interest + ability“. This is something that some might not be cognizant about. What I mean is that some people may lack certain factors in the equation. For instance, one may have a passion for teaching but lacks a certain set of skill sets. On the other hand, one may have the capability to excel in teaching but their interest may be lost if some of their expectations within the teaching environment are not met.

“Hence, it’s only when the interest of the person matches their teaching abilities – coupled with the fact that they are able to thrive in an academic environment – that they will truly shine as an educator. And this is often not easy to realise until they find themselves teaching so as to see the truth for themselves. “

Taking the first step to try out as an educator requires stepping out of one’s comfort zone, where courage is called for. Thus, bravery is the second quality of an educator, because it is required not just in entering the teaching profession but also in the fact that it is an essential quality that must be employed in the classroom.

“An educator must be able to take the initiative in evoking insights from students in in-depth discussions and play the lead role in discussion issues from various perspectives.  An educator must be avant-garde in proposing thought-provoking questions, and innovative in lesson design to truly make their lessons shine.”

This is not an easy task and it often takes years to master. Whether one is willing and prepared to take the plunge into this challenge again requires bravery.

The third quality is patience.

As educators, they must be prepared to be patient. They should not hold the expectation that all students will have the same learning pace (which is almost an impossibility, especially in a class of 35-40 students, as can typically be seen in local classroom settings at the primary and secondary level at this point in time). Some students will inadvertently fall behind while some students race ahead during the course of the lessons. Having some students asking educators to teach more within the same lesson duration with some putting forward requests  to slow down the lessons has been a dilemma for most educators in the classrooms. The trick to maintaining a balance is tricky and requires patience on the part of educators.

“There are numerous essential qualities of an educator, and I have only named three which I find to be the most essential. Educators are all different and they vary in personalities and teaching approaches. Nevertheless, the abovementioned qualities are important criteria to assess the suitability of an educator in the teaching profession.”

What makes you decide to join the teaching profession?

I love teaching. Straight and simple.

The path isn’t easy for me either. Teaching doesn’t occur to me as the first choice, unlike some teachers who have decided on teaching since graduating.

This is because my interests are very diverse. I love many things, such as reading, writing, design, photography, the Japanese language, Buddhism, travelling, cultures, psychology, research, editing, social media, analytical thinking, creative writing, communication studies, media literacy. literature, journalism and many more.

It has come to a point where an interviewer once asked me during an interview if I know what I want.

“There might be an expectation among some interviewers that one should be more of a specialist than a generalist but I cannot change my innate preference. I am a generalist, and I am proud to be one. “

So, when I first entered the teaching profession, I have the most enjoyable time of my life, which has lasted till now.

“I realise that I am able to integrate my varied interests into my teachings, employ my writing skills to guide my students and interest them with my thoughts on contemporary happenings. And because every lesson is different with varying class dynamics, I am able to put both my adaptability (did I mention I love variety and changes?) and my understanding of human psychology into work.”

This is something I couldn’t do in some workplaces, due to bureaucratic management, rigid work schedules and work responsibilities, lack of flexible and innovative autonomy, office politics, or a combination of the mentioned.

I really love teaching. Because I find teaching very empowering.

Schools are a golden land of learning, and it still is – in spite of the Internet. In fact, the internet has become my ally in my teaching, what with Information Communication Technology (ICT) entering the education landscape and of course, the “flipped classroom” approach.

To wrap it up, do you have any advice for teachers or professionals aspiring to be teachers?

I will say that teaching is a very fulfilling career.

“It might not be the most fulfilling professions financially, and the work(load) can be heavy and time-consuming. But at the end of the day, when you look back, you will see a lot of smiling and appreciative faces, thanking you for your dedication and hardwork to teaching. And you will see for yourself, over time, the learners you have accepted and developed into full-fledged talents. This is something that money cannot buy. This sense of satisfaction is invaluable and it stays with you beautifully  throughout the times you continue teaching – knowing in your hearts that talents are nurtured and groomed in every teaching moments, and feeling grateful in your heart.

If you feel an increasing sense of elation as you are reading this, then I say, ‘Join me in the teaching profession. It will be worth your while.’ ”

Patrick Tay is an English Language and Life Skills Training Specialist  who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and international affairs at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at teachingwithart@gmail.com .

Discussing change and stability

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Much have been discussed about change and stability. Are we able to achieve both?

This is an interesting question and much have been discussed in both academia and the business circles. I will say that this question transcends both areas such that the very choice that we make encompasses life itself.

“To make a choice between change and stability is usually very heavily contextualised within the domain of one’s life circumstances and ever-evolving happenings globally. It also has much to do with the cultural characteristics in which one was engaged in. It also has to do with one’s innate personality. The last factor may be the pivotal point in which one makes a decision between change and stability.”

So, there really isn’t any hard and fast rules on whether it is possible to merely achieve one or both. It’s a blend somewhere between personality, culture and changing circumstances. Currently, TIME magazine has reported on the intrusion of tourists on certain tourist attractions such as Lombard Street in San Francisco. But gradual adjustments have been made to accommodate the influx of tourism while still ensuring minimal disruptions to the residents in the area. Besides striking a balance, I feel that another crucial factor lies in the decisive moments when one makes one’s decision. What’s challenging is that most of us often miss these decisive moments, as well as the fact that the decisions that we make are often relative and subjective.

It seems that there are more people who prefer to be where they are than to make changes. Are there any reasons for this?

It’s primarily psychological.

If you move, you have to deal with changes. And these changes could be as trivial as making room in a corner of your bedroom for a pet, or as drastic as ensuring that there is enough budget for food, accommodations and transport in the event that you choose to accept an overseas posting for a few years.

“Such changes could be social, economical, political, financial, educational or it could a combination of all these – on a national if not global scale. “

The “if it’s aren’t broke, don’t fix it” mantra has a stronger emotional and mental pull on almost anyone. It all comes down to self-preservation. If you make changes, you incur cost in terms of allocating resources and facing any changes that might be disruptive to your lives. If you stay where you are, you are safe – at least for now. It usually takes a whole lot more than a mindset to cause attitudinal or behavioural changes in someone. However, this is not how our forebears survive. They change their habitat, their lifestyle, their preferences, their habits – in the hope of a better life and a better world. You also observe these in animals, in insects. A chameleon is an obvious example.

But there is an interesting aspect to these changes. Humans have always strived to strike a balance between being competitive and collaborative through change. You see this in politics, in office politics, as well as parental and marital relationships. You also see this in carnivorous animals that hunt, such as the wolves.

“The Chinese novel “Wolf Totem” (which had since been translated into English) carries a strong message in its tale: that should the wolves be wiped out by the hunters, their preys will increase in number and the crops will suffer as a result. In a very provocative manner, the themes of change and renewal is prominently brought up in almost every aspects of the book. “

But humans did progress after all, didn’t we?

We did, but often not fast enough. We probably pay a price for this – in the form of a lost job opportunity, maybe. Or maybe something more costly.

What you are saying is probably mankind’s progress on the whole. On that count, yes we are progressing progressively. But if you were to look at the societal or national levels, the progression are of a different pace because people have different views, as well as being born in different circumstances. And in these disparities and differences in progression rate, we see opportunity costs borne by the people.

So, to expedite change, sometimes we have to change the circumstances for the better, which cannot be accomplished by any single individual. Of course, another way is to relocate. Nevertheless, there is no perfect place on Earth and one at times have to make do with things that one is unfavourable about. There is also a cost in relocating oneself. Families and loved ones are left behind.

Yes, you are right. It is often better to regard progression on a wider scale rather than just on an individual level.  Life is relative and the media often aggravates this tendency. It is human nature to want to better one’s life and often, we use others’ materialistic possessions and achievements as yardsticks to measure our own well-being, instead of using our current achievements as benchmarks to do better next time.

To a certain extent, this is human nature – which often does not change.

Patrick Tay is an English Language and Life Skills Training Specialist  who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and international affairs at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at teachingwithart@gmail.com .

Effective ways of learning a foreign language right in your home!

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In recent years, with the pace of studying and working picking up tremendously, there is a decline in the number of literature students in Singapore.

This may imply a loss of creative culture in the country since literature is the inspiration behind the endeavour to explore human nature , and to understand life itself.

Regardless of the causes behind the diminishing number of enrollment in literature lessons, it is important that students recognise the importance of self-expression using the written word. At this point in time, it is hard to foresee if the passion in literature will be re-ignited but a weakening interest in the creative arts is apparent.

Moving along the same line of thought, it can be observed that there are also not many students taking up foreign language in their schools. Only one student in my class of fifteen raised her hand when I asked if any of them had taken up a foreign language in the school. Another one or two have indicated interest in this pursuit but has not enrolled themselves in these lessons.

Unlike literature studies, learning a foreign language is a longer journey, and it involves a longer investment since learning a new language is more sophisticated than literature in terms of its linguistic and grammatical syntax, as well as the fact that foreign language learners have to continuously expose themselves to the new language.

There are some who have advocated immersing oneself in the country to expedite learning. That is a feasible way (if affordability, accessibility and feasibility are not serious issues) but there are other ways to learn. Accessing online learning platforms, enrolling in an online course, having formal lessons in one’s country, as well as forming study groups are some great ways to learn a foreign language.

If you are someone who will like to learn in the comforts of your own hometown, here are some effective ways where you are able to do that.

Attend formal lessons: Now , some may argue that this is not necessary since the internet provides much learning content in almost every common foreign language. While this is true, what beginners of a foreign language should be looking for are structures.

Beginners should look for teachers who are able to give a structure to their learning.

This is something that is almost non-existent in an online platform, unless learners subscribe to online learning platforms such as LearningPod101.com. Of course, the lesson notes that you received from these lessons are also invaluable.

Purchase Textbooks that are used in formal language schools: It’s almost impossible to learn a foreign language without some textbooks to give one the foundations. Do visit your bookshop frequently to note any updates to the titles.

I am currently learning Japanese and one title I will recommend is “Mina No Nihongo” . It comes in two books (which constitutes one set of four ) with its own set of vocabulary lists, sentence structures, conversations in writing, and numerous practices and exercises in each chapter.

Leverage on mobile technology: With the rapid development of mobile technology, our mobile phone is currently much more than a communication device. It is also a learning device, specifically the learning of foreign language in this context.

There are tons of foreign language apps in Apple Play Store and I will personally recommend “”.

If you are interested in some interested features of the app, they are here. Have fun learning a foreign language!

Watch dramas and movies of that language: It’s important that we keep in constant contact with the foreign language that we are learning.

And one of the best ways is to watch programmes in that language, as what we learn in textbooks may not be the equivalent of what is spoken by the native speakers in their daily lives.

Once we have gained a certain level of proficiency, I suggest reading literature of that specific foreign language we are learning.

Learning content compilation: With the increasing amount of learning content, it’s inevitable that our learning content gets increasing complex and sophisticated. We are looking at everything from vocabulary to grammar to sentence expressions to commonly used phrases. I personally  form a list of vocabulary (which I find it to be the most important since we require a vast range of vocabulary words to form sentences, alongside verbs) and a verb list, and my valued textbooks as well as learning materials.

Putting in an effort to revise these list of vocabulary words and verbs regularly is very useful in learning the language. Writing short sentences and paragraphs are equally effective. This is especially so if you are crafting sentences around your daily living since by doing so, you are inadvertently using commonly used sentences.

To wrap it all up, I will say that it’s possible for almost everyone to learn a foreign language in their own homes. However, this should be complemented with external formal lessons since pronunciation will probably be an issue in any form of independent foreign language learning.

Have fun learning a foreign language! And do not forget to communicate with your foreign friends speaking the same language!

Patrick Tay is an English Language and Life Skills Training Specialist  who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and international affairs at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at teachingwithart@gmail.com .

The Art of Thinking in Reading

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Humans thrive on information.

This is why the internet is an immediate attraction with people globally as with its emergence, there also arises an easy access to information from numerous sources, with viewpoints more varied and diverse than what traditional media is able to offer.

Reading has always been one of the favourite past time of humans and it still remains to be so. What has changed are our reading habits.

“Where ,once, we have read for depth, now we read for breadth (which probably explains the decline of the encyclopaedia. Of course, there is now Wikipedia).”

In addition, we are now more selective in what we read than before, opting for news feed from online social media than reading hard copies of newspapers and magazines. Nevertheless, newspapers and news magazine still has their place for providing the depth that most online information lacks.

Regardless of our current reading habits and preferences, an inevitable fact remains: we are looking for more information now than before – even in the face of information overload. While some have argued that information overload will put some readers off from acquiring more information or risk getting confused from various information, this has not happened.

“In fact, on the contrary, something interesting has happened: our neural pathways have adapted to this new way of acquiring information.”

We can see it happening in schools and in the workplace. Students and working professionals are now being selective about what they read without being taught about it in lessons. So what do they read? Yes, they read what interest them. It is human nature to read what sustains our interest. This often spills over into whatever we see, hear, do and engage in.

Some websites already have interfaces that employ cookies to track the websites we visit, as well as product and services that we view previously. This practice is prevalent in both commercial enterprises and institutions of public service such as public libraries.

What this implies is that we are getting more of what we want instead of what we are able to explore. Eli Pariser said it best in this TED video.

“If we were to look at the news articles that we read on a continuous basis, we often find that the article content is often repetitive, and just phrased and worded in a different ways. So, continuous reading of such materials merely deepens our understanding and strengthens our beliefs in the stand made in the article. However, this may not substantiate the arguments made.”

So, in present times, we really need to take a step back and question the very premise that everything we read is useful.  This is crucial not just in educational institutions but also in the workplace.

In the absence of clear thinking, we run the risks of groupthink and skewed thinking. Every article is written with a certain intent and goal in mind, to persuade the readers to its point of view, including this post. Please think deeply about what this post is trying to telling you as this is why this post is written.

We live in a time when we read articles in their entirety and with such a fast speed that it’s inadvertent that the mind absorbs the information rapidly without much contemplative processing. This is fine when reading a novel since its content seeks to broaden your scope and understanding of the narrative tale.

However, it is a different story when reading factual news, commentaries, non-fiction materials as well as research findings. Such materials have direct influence on our lives and hence, we need to be mindful of every argument being made.

“There is a certain truth in the saying that what we read, we become.  And there is almost a complete truth to the saying that what we think, we become. “

It’s precisely because of this that we should always think when reading before taking in what we read. It seems that most of us do not have this habitual tendency.

What does it mean?

“It means having the foresight of our prior beliefs, then taking the initiative to compare what we know and believe with what is being read, and having the awareness and possessing the courage to disagree with any arguments made while still having the open-mindedness to examine any contradictory arguments that are made.”

Besides assessing the validity of the arguments, we also need to do associative thinking when reading such that creative ideas can emerge. This is true both in education and in business.

Such is the art of thinking.

There are now universities who have integrated this cross-disciplinary approach in some of their modules but this is not prevalent at this point in time for this approach to be instrumental in shaping our reading habits for the better.

“Learners and business professionals need to understand the mechanics behind associative thinking, such that more innovations can be discovered to better society and to further the positive progress of the world. “

So, the next time we flip through or scroll through any new information, let us ask ourselves the reasons why we disagree with some arguments that are put forward, and what connections we can make between the disparate elements of different disciplines and topics.

Only then will we be better learners, and not merely an information sponge.

Patrick Tay is an English Language and Life Skills Training Specialist who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and global issues at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at teachingwitheart@gmail.com

Introducing “HelloTalk” (Foreign Language learning tool)

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It was through a leisurely chat that I am encouraged to try out the latest offerings of HelloTalk. Now, this is not a pitch or a typical salesman’s  spiel but I feel compelled to talk about it after trying out this mobile phone app for a few weeks because to me, it’s just amazingly great!

“HelloTalk” is a foreign language learning exchange application whereby users are able to learn a foreign language while mentoring their language partners on language(s) that they are proficient in. For example, if you are proficient in English and wish to learn the Japanese language, you can download the app and register as a member, then find people who are interested in English and who also wish to teach others Japanese. In this instance, a good recommendation will be native speakers based in Japan. However, there are instances where these native speakers may be based in other countries, of which you are also able to learn from.

The app allows users to search for other members in terms of proximity and specification of cities, so there is flexibility in choosing one’s language partners.

So, what’s so special about this app?

Interactive and great learning interfaces!

When I first navigate through the app’s interfaces, I find the features rather complex and sophisticated. However, after dabbling with it for a while, I find this mobile phone app highly usable.

Some interesting and recommended features include:

  • Embedded audio voice recording: Users are able to exchange audio recordings with each other and this is very useful in learning pronunciation of words and phrases. Of course, mobile phones and messaging systems such as WhatsApp already have a in-build audio system but an embedded one makes all the difference since it allows users to record and sent them to their language partners on the go! You can even record your own voice and upload it in the introductory section of your personal profile.
  • Integrated Translation engine: HelloTalk has an integrated translation engine to translate languages. This proves to be very convenient as users are able to easily “copy and paste” responses from their language partners into this search engine and translate them. Of course, as in all translation engines, an algorithm-based translation system can’t be compared to a human translator in terms of linguistic fluency and accuracy but it still works great!
  • “Language Correction” system: HelloTalk also has a correction system in place,  with functions as such as “strikethrough” (as seen in Microsoft Word, but no “double strikethrough”..)  and a “comments” section for language partners to pen down their thoughts to guide their counterparts.
  • “Starred” for further reference: There is also a function whereby users are able to make a mark on their language partners’ specific responses in order to refer to them later. This function is somewhat similar to what’s available on LINE messaging system, with the added functionality of being able to note what you have corrected for others and many more. 
  • Unique set of emoticons: Although this does not account for much in terms of increasing the efficiency or effectiveness of language learning, I feel that I have to mention it as they are fun to use! 🙂 If only LinkedIn allows the use of emoticons..or did I miss something?

Anyways, I hope that you enjoy using them and here’s wishing you a happy and fulfilling learning journey in learning a foreign language!

Patrick Tay is a Communications and Life Skills Training Specialist who is based in Singapore. He has been teaching communication studies and international issues in polytechnics and writes regularly on various issues of interest in education, media, business and global issues at patricktay.wordpress.com. He can be contacted at teachingwitheart@gmail.com

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