Michael Sarlitt, a 30-year-old American, is enjoying his life in Shenzhen and very passionate about his job promoting a language exchange app, HelloTalk, which his company developed.
Shenzhen is the first city in China where Sarlitt has lived and worked. Although he has already adapted to the city’s environment, the language barrier is still an issue, as most of the people he encounters outside of work have quite a low level of proficiency in English.
“My Chinese is terrible because I have lived in Shenzhen for only nine months,” said Sarlitt. “I think for many expats who’ve just moved to another country like me, a convenient language learning app is quite necessary.”
In Sarlitt’s eyes, talking with native speakers is the only true way to achieve fluency and accuracy in a language and using a language exchange app helps a lot.
“HelloTalk is a cool online app through which you can quickly and easily meet native-speaking language partners around the world and look for those nearest to you, by country or city.”
“If you aren’t living in an area with native speakers of the language you’re learning, it’s the best way to learn through a language exchange app by which you can make friends with them online. Even if you are living around native speakers, it’s a more efficient way to practice through the app because both people have the same goal, to learn each other’s language,” Sarlitt told Shenzhen Daily.
As the head of the growth department at the company, Sarlitt is mainly responsible for product development and marketing.
“We use a lot of marketing channels ranging from online promotion, partnerships with other language companies and recently experimenting with real-life events,” Sarlitt told Shenzhen Daily.
“The language exchange app is a promising market but very competitive now. It’s also a difficult business model. You need an equal number of learners and speakers of each language pair to make it a good experience for everyone,” he said. “It’s been a fun challenge, especially since I don’t speak the working language, Chinese.”
“I’m passionate about getting different cultures to interact with each other. I think it’s the key to world peace. A language exchange app like HelloTalk is a natural way to facilitate this.”