Do you want to learn a language? How about five languages at one time? Do you want your instruction to be efficient, personal, affordable, and convenient? Than iTalki is what you are looking for. But what is ITalki, does it really work and is it affordable? We will dive into iTalki and see if it is the best online platform for learning a language.
What is iTalki?
You may have heard of iTalki, seen reviews on blogs, and even youtube. It seems to be everywhere, but what is it? iTalki is an online language learning provider that offers lessons in over 100 languages. Currently, over five million people learn at least one language using iTalki. Employing over 10,000 professional, qualified teachers, iTalki leads the way in facilitating the learning of a language. iTalki claims that you will learn more than just a language. They claim you will discover a timeless skill, new perspectives, and connect with fascinating people.
Launched in 2006, iTalki was a social network designed for language exchange with learning new words as the primary purpose. They wanted to teach languages by connecting with others. In 2008, iTalki began the marketplace version you have today. It was a new idea met with skepticism. However, the concept proved to be ideal because, in 2012, iTalki expanded its marketplace with angel financing. To keep the business growing, iTalki rebranded and relaunched its website and apps in 2016. Growth continued, and iTalki completed its first acquisition in 2019. iTalki acquired Lingbe, a Spain based company. Now, in 2020, iTalk is looking towards the future with no looking back and not an end in sight.
iTalki is more than just a place to take language lessons; it is also a community. iTalki encourages its users to interact with people who are learning the same language socially.
The first way they do this is through articles. iTalki publishes articles a couple of times a week. These articles correlate with words and the best way to learn languages. The next way iTalki encourages a community of interaction is through the notebook, answers, and discussion platforms. These platforms allow you to post in the language you are learning and answer in the same style on other people’s posts. We’ll look at these in-depth a little later. The final way iTalki encourages a community of interaction is through their “language partners” section. This section allows you to search for people learning the same language as you. Once you find someone, you can message each other and work on your conversational skills so that you can learn together.
iTalki started as a social network designed for language exchange, and they have kept this purpose at the forefront with the community aspect.
iTalki provides efficient instruction. Once you’ve chosen the language you wish to learn, iTalki helps pair you with an attentive teacher that will deliver one-on-one lessons. You don’t have to worry about the teacher helping another student during your time. Customized lessons will meet your needs and desires, and you get to converse with the teacher before the lesson about what will take place during your experience.
One of the most efficient ways to learn a new language is through human conversation. iTalki began with the human conversation being the best way to learn a language, and they incorporate this when hiring knowledgable teachers. During this social conversation, the teacher will guide you through real-world scenarios using conversational skills. Lessons delivered this way are far more efficient than merely repeating what a computer tells you to say, as many other platforms teach new languages. Having a qualified/knowledgable teacher is very important in learning a new language.
As mentioned before, iTalki employs over 10,000 professional, qualified teachers. One of the positive aspects of iTalki is that you get to choose the teacher you work with to learn the new language. iTalki classifies its teachers as either advanced or native speaking. You also get the choice of a community teacher or a pro-teacher. A pro-teacher is a teacher that has passed several teaching exams and is fully qualified to teach the lessons. So depending on your level of expertise, iTalki has a teacher for you.
Once you decide which type of teacher you’d like, you can narrow down your search for the perfect teacher by hourly rate, language, and skills. The skill section refers to exam prep and age. For example, if you want your child to learn Spanish, you can select the skills section to teach children. Now that you have chosen all the criteria you want in a teacher, you can search through a list of teachers. Some things to look for when searching through the list include stats, star ratings, and availability. The availability times will be in your time zone, so there is no need to try to convert back and forth. Presenting times in your time zone is a positive aspect of iTalki.
Once you find a teacher you like, you can click on their name and watch a prerecorded video that will give you an idea of how they will interact during a lesson. It will also give you an idea of their audio/visual capabilities and see if you like them. Teachers often offer discounted trial lessons to see if you are a good fit for them. They may also provide packages for lessons all on the same topic. For example, if you are traveling to France and want to learn French for the aspect of tourism, a teacher might lump together five lessons about tourism in France.
A word of advice, sometimes you can find teachers on other forms of social media such as Facebook and YouTube. Look into these resources to see if they will fit with you. A lot of them upload language videos onto youtube, so youtube is another source to see how they teach.
Also, take advantage of trial lessons; this will give you an idea if they are the perfect fit for you. Once you book an experience with one of the teachers, iTalki will send you reminders of your lessons to ensure efficiency and preparation.
Learning a new language has been made extremely convenient with iTalki. You have complete access wherever you go with iTalki. The access convenience is because it works as a web-based program as well as on an app. You can select which language you want to learn, and whatever time is convenient for you. Some teachers offer teaching now an option that will allow you to take a lesson whenever suitable for you. You have 30 minutes of downtime you didn’t plan for, and you can take a lesson during that time. Conveniently, iTalki provides multiple platforms for having video lessons. These platforms include Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and QQ. You get to pay per lesson, which is convenient because you don’t have to commit to several lessons. Taking lessons with iTalki is very convenient.
iTalki is one of the most affordable online language platforms. It is more affordable than many other common ways to learn a language. Offline tutors cost more than 30% than iTalki. Language software can cost multiple hundreds of dollars for just a beginner. For example, the first piece of software for Rosetta Stone costs the same amount as 20 hours with a live teacher on iTalki. An offline language school can cost thousands of dollars. Offline schools offer no flexibility and limited teacher attentiveness. iTalki is a fraction of the cost of an offline school. iTalki offers various rates depending on what the teachers charge. Teachers can charge as low as $4/lesson-$80/lesson. There are even trial lessons that are as low as $1/lesson. When you join iTalki, you receive three free trial lessons as well. The free trial lessons make getting started very affordable.
Keep in mind; there are teachers from all over the world, and prices may reflect where they live. Just because a lesson costs $80/hour does not mean it will be a better lesson. Just because a lesson costs $4/hour does not mean you will get an inefficient lesson. Teachers set their pricing. New teachers tend to set their prices lower so they can get good reviews and raise rates once they have established a positive rating. This shows you they are working at pleasing their students. Maintaining the lessons is also affordable.
iTalki teachers create a personal-customized learning atmosphere. With iTalki, you can achieve language learning goals that you set with the help of a teacher. iTalki does not only offer language, but they offer dialects as well. For example, under the Chinese language, there are seven different dialects (Taiwanese, Mandarin, Shanghainese, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, and other). They even offer 13 various forms of sign language with different languages. Many teachers provide niche classes. For example, you can take courses in business in English or tourism in French. You could also learn Latin American Spanish vs. American Spanish or Spain Spanish.
The personal aspect also comes into play in the community interaction discussed earlier. iTalki will also let you take lessons in multiple languages at one time as well if that is what you’d like. As mentioned earlier, the lessons are catered to your desires and are taught by experienced native speakers in both language and culture. Because iTalki only does private lessons, you don’t have to worry about sitting through an experience that is not personalized. Speak up in your lessons, if something is not going well, let the teacher know. If they are talking too fast or you don’t like the resources they are using, let them know. The direction the lesson should go is up to you, don’t accept a bad lesson. The iTalki experience is entirely personal and customized to your desires and goals.
We mentioned earlier that iTalki started as a social network to get people connected to learn a new language through conversation. We want to take a moment and look at each of these components in-depth. To find these components, look in the drop-down menu of the community tab.
If you are looking for a way to improve your writing in your new language, the notebook is an excellent place to get started. Using your newly acquired skills, write about any topic, and share it in the notebook section. It is a public forum, so be sure whatever you write, you are comfortable with other people reading. Usually, a native speaker will come along, read your post, and correct it. It’s like peer editing in your new language. Use the “pay it forward” mentality when using the notebook section. If someone corrects your writing, you should correct someone else’s that is written in your native language. Fixing other people’s writing helps keep the flow going in the notebook section.
This section is similar to the notebook section, but it is all questions and answers. If you have a question you’ve come across while studying, you can post it in the answers section, and people will give you the answer. These questions can be anything from grammar-related to pronunciation, culture questions, or anything relevant to learning a new language. Much similar to the notebook section, be sure not only to ask questions but also to answer some. You can learn a lot about your new language by simply scrolling through this section and reading questions people have already asked.
Similar to a discussion board from an online college class, the discussions section is a forum for people to discuss anything that deals with learning a new language or the language in general. Not many people use the discussions component because they have the notebook and answer sections that work just as well for anything they may want to discuss.
The language partners tab is probably one of the best components of iTalki. If you want a real person to practice speaking your new language with, you can find someone in the language partners component. Both people help each other learn the language. You can filter through all language partners until you find one you think is the best fit for you. Once you do, you can message them or add them as a friend. Once they message you back, you can begin your partnership and learn from each other.
The community tab on the iTalki dashboard leads you to multiple places where personal learning can take place. Did we mention that everything in the community tab is free? That’s right, you can post to all the different components and find a language partner, and it is free. You can’t beat that!
iTalki provides a language learning experience that is efficient, convenient, affordable, and personal. However, the process can be a bit tricky. Choosing a teacher can be overwhelming. With so many teachers, it is hard to pick the best fit. Also, iTalki does not have any technical requirements for their teachers, which can make lessons difficult. We all know that some video platforms require faster internet speeds. If teachers don’t have these quicker speeds, lessons can be choppy and distracting.
The system to pay for a class at iTalki is also not the most simple way to make a payment. You have to deposit money on a digital wallet to pay for classes. You can not refund this money and iTalki charges fees. Be cautious when depositing money to make sure you don’t overpay.
That being said, we think the positive aspects outweigh the negative aspects. We love that you can take lessons in multiple languages at one time. The price range is very affordable, making it far more likely for someone to be able to take more lessons and become a more fluent speaker. Being able to take trial lessons helps pick the teacher and helps you know if you want to learn the language you have chosen.
iTalki is excellent for people who are just beginning to learn a new language, as the lessons are easily tailored. iTalki offers several free components that help with language learning, and we absolutely love these components. Realworld application is so important when learning a language and iTalki offers those, for free! With iTalki acting as a facilitator, people are guaranteed to learn a new language. Having a human conversation will get them there.
The need for learning a new language has always been there, and people love iTalki because it meets this need. Whether you want to learn a new language because of travel, education, or as a personal goal, iTalki is the resource for you! So, leave the Rosetta Stone CDs in their cases, hop online and have a real conversation, with a real human being practicing a language you’ve wanted to learn.