Sarah Gontijo of hello-hello

In this interview I talked to Sarah Gontijo, Founder and CEO of hello-hello a language learning community.

Similar to other language learning communities like Livemocha, Busuu or Babbel hello-hello offers a free community where people from around the globe can meet each other, do language exchange and correct each others exercises.

What makes hello-hello different from its competitors is that the courses are developed in partnership with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages and that the platform offers its premium courses on the iPad. The first course was even included in the launch version of the iPad store and made it up to place number 2 in the education category.

During the interview Sarah tells her really interesting story and gives us some great insights about how the idea was born, what made her decide to go all in on the iPad when she first saw the device and about her plans to grow the company in the near future.

hello-hello is entirely self funded and you will see how far real passion for a project can bring you.


Audio only:

1. EDUKWEST #30 with Sarah Gontijo of hello-hello     

Additional Links:

ACTFL: Hello Hello launches free German and Italian Courses

Kirsten Winkler is the founder and editor of EDUKWEST. She also writes about Social Media, Digital Society and Startups at

  • ChinaMike

    At long last I figured out how to listen to these pod casts in China. Sarah claims her methodology is “better” at the end of this pod cast. Better than who? Better how? How I wonder is “her” methodology unique? Is there some secret recipe that others of us in language teaching don't have access to?

    She also claims that they are “the” pioneers of mobile language learning (yes, she used the definite article). In point of fact, people have been developing mobile apps for years. Check out what Chinese Pod has done. They were talking about this fully two years ago.

    I congratulate Sarah on her success. But, I would temper your claims a bit if you want to be believed by people in this industry.

    • Welcome to EDUKWEST Mike 🙂

      Yes, she is excited about her product and I wish more founders would be. She might go over the top with the claim to be better than who ever and THE pioneer in mobile learning. But in the end the customers will decide and those are not the people in the industry. 😉

      I like her energy, I like that she set on an emerging technology and I like the upcoming application I saw after this interview.

      • ChinaMike

        Yes, yes, yes, I understand. You can't be everywhere when you start a new business. I will allow a little latitude, but the statements she was making go to core benefits. If she said, we are here to make people happy and our students are the happiest students on the planet then I might have let it go but she went further…. she implied that her ACTFL sauce has significant ingredients others don't as well as that she practically pioneered mobile learning. These statements don't wash….

        My guess is that the content of her program is extremely traditional. My guess is that what sets her apart is her access to great programmers, her capacity for hard work, her business savvy, and being able to self finance so she can start by charging nothing.

        I'm guessing that content wise, especially since she has partnered with a very traditional ACTFl, that her materials are also very mainstream and traditional. Nothing bad here but content wise nothing very remarkable either.

        • You can test the courses on the hello-hello website. The applications are based on the same content / methodology just ported to the iPad.

          But in general I agree. It is of course a classic course structure. Like the premium ones on Livemocha, Busuu, Babbel, Rosetta Stone, you name them.

          What I am looking forward to is the integration of real teachers into the process. This will be interesting to see as this is something I am talking about for over a year now. 🙂

          • ChinaMike

            Add one more to your waiting list! 🙂