You have probably heard me mention italki throughout several of my posts and if you follow me on Twitter you will know that I’ve been a Community Tutor there for quite some time. So I figured it was time to give a full review seeing as I was a recent participant in their language challenge for this month.
Let’s start off with the pros:
Language Tutoring At A Cheap Price
italki is probably one of the few language learning websites where you can find a native or fluent speaker in the language you’re learning for a very reasonable price. Depending on which tutor you choose you could have lessons for roughly $5.00 (convert currency) per lesson! Not to mention that many of the Community Tutors offer trial lessons for only $1.00. (including myself) Which means you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to have a tutor effectively teach your target language!
Professional Teachers, Informal Tutoring and Instant Tutoring
I love that italki allows you to have more than one option for choosing how you would like to improve your language abilities. If you’re someone who wants structured lessons by someone with a certification or degree then choosing a Professional Teacher might be the most ideal option for you. I have not taken lessons with a Professional Teacher (yet!) so I cannot compare how they differentiate from experience but, I can tell you that quality will much better than taking the Informal or Instant tutoring.
Informal tutoring is a great way to interact with native or fluent speakers in the language with the ability to learn things you might not find in a dictionary or textbook. They could even provide you with excellent insight into their culture that you wouldn’t otherwise learn from taking structured lessons in a classroom setting. I do informal tutoring for English and it’s a great opportunity for me to get to know a wide variety of people through helping them improve their language skills.
Now let’s move on to instant tutoring. This is a newer option available for tutors to utilise when they have extra time to tutor and are available to tutor you right away. This is a great way for students looking for a tutor immediately instead of having to schedule a specific time to practise. It’s a better way for tutors to be more flexible for students and allows for live one-on-one sessions almost instantaneously.
Written Corrections In Your Notebook
This feature is a great way to improve your writing skills in your target language(s). By writing an entry in your notebook, you can the necessary corrections needed to help your writing flow better. There are other websites that also have this capability, but italki is one of the few websites where you get this done for FREE. Which can really be beneficial if you would like to improve your literacy ability in the language as well.
Answers To Your Burning Questions
I love that italki as a separate section for questions relating to the specific language you’re learning. Natives and fluent speakers can help demystify the language for you by providing an insightful answer to help take the confusion away. Whether it’s differentiating similar language patterns, finding the meaning to difficult to translate words or even learning how to construct sentences more correctly. The sky’s the limit!
One of the most beneficial things a language learning website can have is an active forum of enthusiastic language learners. It was stumbling across forums that my interest for languages was piqued to begin with. Just like the Answers section, this area is divided according to language so that way it’s easy to locate discussions relevant to the language you happen to be learning.
However, there have been multiple instances where someone would post a topic on a very sensitive issue and it would almost always end up with users flaming each other as a result. My advice is to simply avoid those topics, especially if you highly disagree with what the person/people have to say about it. It’s best to just report it and allow the iTalki moderators take care of the situation.
The only reason why I bring this up is that it’s a common occurrence that happens far too regularly. I’ve seen many users not only get annoyed but also end up insulting each other in the end. It’s not worth damaging your credibility over!
Now let’s move to the cons:
Unable To Edit Posts In The Discussions Forum
One of the things that I found incredibly frustrating was not being able to edit your posts, especially for those accidental typos. It can be really frustrating to not be able to do that. So make sure you proofread your post before clicking the submit button. There have been a few circumstances where I’ve made a typo or simply felt the wrath of auto-correct because I was using my phone.
No Input Based Activities
What do I mean by this? Well, to put it simply I mean activities that increase your reading and listening comprehension in the language apart from speaking and writing (or output based activities). This might be covered with a Professional Teacher but it would be nice to have some content just for input too. However, I do understand that italki’s primary focus is to get you to speak your target language with a native speaker.
I would recommend italki to any serious language learner out there. Not only can you find an affordable tutor but you can also take professional lessons as well. That aspect alone is what makes italki a powerful resource to have at your disposal. Especially, if you can’t find a native speaker in your local area or unable to live, study or travel abroad. italki makes it extraordinarily convenient to learn a language online. They even offer language challenges to boost your motivation as well as confidence in learning a new language.
Take a lesson with a Community Tutor or Teacher and see for yourself! Who knows you might even end up fluent too!