Hallo connects English teachers and students around the world

By Jenny Rollins

A Provo-based language learning platform, Hallo, instantly connects hundreds of thousands of people who want to learn English to native-speaker teachers who help them practice the language.

Similar to Uber, Hallo allows users to instantly connect with teachers and other students to practice English within seconds of opening the app. You can also schedule private or group lessons in advance with your favorite teacher.

Since its launch in 2019, the app has grown to a global user base, with over two million downloads and hundreds of thousands of monthly users. The company’s monthly turnover has tripled over the past year.

The story behind Hallo

Joon Beh, the founder of Hallo, was born and raised in Seoul, Korea. Her family moved to the United States about 15 years ago when her older sister entered Brigham Young University. He also attended BYU and earned a degree in accounting.

While at BYU, he wanted to give up and pursue his entrepreneurial dreams, but he held on, graduated, and moved to Silicon Valley as a consultant for Deloitte, interviewing engineering executives. from tech giants like Amazon, LinkedIn and Uber.

One day he was talking with engineers at Uber and had an idea: an Uber-like platform that would connect language learners to native speakers via video chat in seconds.

“As an immigrant, I understand the challenges of learning a new language, and the biggest thing for me was finding speaking opportunities,” Beh told TechBuzz.

When he lived in Korea, he thought his English was good. He knew grammar and vocabulary and could read. But when he arrived in America, he found he still had trouble communicating with native speakers.

“Learning the basics is important for learning a new language, but being able to communicate and speak is a whole other level,” he added.

So he moved back to Utah and started creating Hallo. It launched two products similar to Hallo’s current product in 2017 and 2018, but they lacked the Uber-like element of immediately connecting people for a service.

Beh created what he calls “the Uber of language learning” and launched the platform in 2019. From there, it began to grow exponentially and organically. At first, it was just to connect students of a similar level who wanted to practice English with each other.

This peer-to-peer practice feature is always unlimited and available for free to everyone. Current daily Hallo users spend 32 minutes on the app per day, which is three times higher than the average time Duolingo spends on its app.

As Beh worked on the company names, he noticed that big companies like Google, Apple, Samsung, and Intel all had names that were made up of two easy-to-pronounce syllables. The word “hello” or “hallo” in German is an almost universal greeting in most countries. It’s also the first English word Beh started using with his family when they moved to the United States.

After organically building this language learning community, Beh introduced Hallo to native English speakers. Students access the app when they want to practice, and the app shows which teachers are available for lessons. Then the student pays to practice and learn instantly with an available teacher.

The pairing process is simple. You see profiles that show the experience and ratings of the person available to practice, and you accept or ignore. If you both agree, you can start talking instantly. There are a limited number of dumpsters.

There is an option for individual learning and group learning, which is more like a classroom led by a teacher whose native language is English.

For private and group lessons with native teachers on Hallo, students choose the number of times they want to learn each week and pay a subscription fee.

If you like a specific teacher, you can schedule private lessons with those teachers rather than doing on-demand learning.

“We make language learning fun, affordable, and interactive all at once,” Beh said. “You can just click a button or browse the list, find the right classes you want, and learn with a teacher anytime, anywhere.”

How do you become a Hallo teacher?

To become a Hallo teacher, you must submit an application through the company’s website.

While the preference is for teachers to be native speakers of the language, there are specific proficiency criteria teachers must meet, as well as criteria for the device and network they would use to teach. Applicants also submit a demonstration video of themselves teaching a concept.

People who pass the first round begin training to ensure they understand the business and the technology. Then they create their profile and start teaching. The third round of judging is through Hallo’s five-star rating system.

“If you’re not good at teaching and if you don’t provide value to students, you won’t be able to find students,” Beh said.

Hallo staff review applications once a week and only accept 15-20% of applicants.

And after?

Beh and his team have focused on English as they define the business model, then plan to expand into B2B and new languages ​​by the end of next year. The next languages ​​in the queue are Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Arabic, Hindi, Korean, Chinese and Japanese.

“One of the unique things about Hallo is that we spent almost no dollars on paid acquisitions, so we just grew organically through the freemium model we have,” Beh said.

Beh explained that the online language learning market is expected to grow by $30 billion over the next five years. He attributes much of this to the increase in remote working during COVID which has opened up job opportunities across the globe.

“With our B2B initiative that we are taking at the end of this year, I could see us working with global organizations that have overseas employees in the future,” he said.

Hallo also has an AI system that monitors calls 24/7 to make sure nothing inappropriate happens during a call, as well as admins that monitor the community.

Beh said learning English is no longer a hobby. This is a must as the world is getting smaller and smaller due to globalization. Learning a new language is a passport to new opportunities and lasting relationships, and he is happy to be able to help people around the world realize their dreams and reach their full potential through the language.

Note: Joon Beh was honored earlier this year as a WIN100 winner.

Jenny Rollins is an award-winning writer, editor and content producer. Jenny is an editor for Business.org and manages her own freelance business story writing and editing.