iTalki Language Program Review: What’s it Like to Learn Through iTalki?

conversation can go a long way in learning a new language!
Conversation can go a long way in learning a new language! (Photo by @theexplorerdad at Unsplash.com)

In my last article, I talked about what it was like to work for iTalki as a teacher. My general conclusion was that it was a pretty good place to work, especially if you have an outgoing, social personality as well as proficiency in the languages that you speak. But I have not reviewed iTalki from the perspective of a learner, so some of you who have stumbled across my previous review might be wondering: what is it like to learn through iTalki?

Today, I’m going to review the iTalki language learning program, not as a teacher but this time as a student.

DISCLAIMER: I will be featuring affiliate links on this post, which means if you sign up and buy lessons through my link, I will make a commission off of it. However, you can be sure that this will not affect how I will review iTalki, as I am here to give you my genuine thoughts so that you can make an informed purchasing decision.

What is iTalki?

I went over this during my review of iTalki as a teaching job, but in case you haven’t read that article, allow me to briefly summarize what iTalki is.

iTalki is a website that is primarily based in China that connects language teachers to students. Students usually go to iTalki to practice their conversational skills in the language they are trying to learn. There are millions of users and thousands of teachers in more than 100 languages, including even some endangered languages!

What Does iTalki Membership Come With?

Once you sign up for a membership, you can browse through a wide selection of tutors and teachers on the iTalki website.

There are two types of teachers: community tutors and professional teachers.

Professional teachers come with fully prepared lessons and are required to have some form of teaching experience before becoming a professional teacher on iTalki. While the lessons can be more expensive than communtiy tutors’, you are guaranteed a high-quality lesson with a teacher guiding you (and helping you) every step of the way. Keep in mind, however, that experience will vary depending on who your teacher is, as every teacher will be different. But you can be sure at the very least that professional teachers are qualified and prepared to teach.

Community tutors are for people who want a more informal learning setting. With community tutors, students can practice their conversational skills with people who are usually fluent in the language being taught. This can make for some great practical learning. Of course, the quality of your lesson will depend on who your teacher is, so I would recommend that you explore with different tutors and see what works best.

How Much is iTalki?

While membership is free, the lessons are not. Depending on who your teacher is (and other factors like whether they are community vs. professional, their ratings, etc), prices can range from as low as $5 an hour to as high as $80 an hour.

However, iTalki teachers do offer trial lessons which can go as low as $1 to $5 an hour. I would recommend that you use these trial lessons to your advantage to find a teacher that is right for you.

Furthermore, there is a referral system for students. If you send someone a link and they sign up through it, for every $40 they spend on lessons, you get $20 of credit added to your account. This can be very useful if you are trying to practice regularly, as the cost of lessons can add up quickly if you are trying to take lessons often.

Pros/Cons

iTalki is a unique program compared to some of the other programs I have reviewed so far on this website. Thus, it will have its own set of pros and cons as I will list below.

Pros:

– PRACTICE OPPORTUNITY: Practice is one of the most important parts to learning a language. In order to be able to speak a new language (especially with native speakers), you will have to practice speaking it obviously. So what better way to do this than to practice with someone who is fluent in the language you are trying to learn?

-Trial lessons: The trial lesson offer can be super helpful, especially when you are starting off and trying to find a teacher that fits your needs best. Compared to going rates for hiring tutors and teachers on this site, a trial lesson is much cheaper.

-Professional vs. Community Tutors: I really liked this feature because it shows how versatile how iTalki can be for language learners. There are some situations where a prepared lesson might be needed and iTalki provides this through their professional teachers. But of course, if you aren’t looking to pay extra for a lesson and just want to practice, iTalki also has that through their community tutors.

-Easy to use: Their website is well designed so navigating through it was a breeze.

-Open minded about criticisms: If one has a complaint about iTalki, the website is very good at receiving feedback.

Cons:

-Ratings system: iTalki comes with a rating system you can use to rate each teacher after a lesson. This can be useful for deciding whether a teacher is worth your time and money. However, the problem is that bad reviews can really bring a teacher’s rating down, which might be necessary at times, but what if I just had a small constructive criticism of the teacher? I wish iTalki had some kind of PM or personal note feature I can use to offer some kind of constructive criticism.

-Multiple teachers: Sometimes one teacher might not be so great for you, so you might have to try different teachers to see who is right for you. This might be a bit of a hassle and drain on one’s wallet, but luckily iTalki has a trial lessons feature where you can try lessons for a reduced price. The trial lessons make this a lot easier as a process, so I can’t really complain about this. However, it is worth noting that you might have to go through a few teachers until you find the right one.

Conclusion

Overall, I really enjoyed iTalki. It offers something that few language learning programs do, which is the ability to practice with an actual native speaker of the language you are trying to learn. I can’t stress enough how important it is to be able to talk to someone who can proficiently speak the language. The prices are decent and the trial lessons are really helpful. I recommend this program, although I do think it should be used in conjunction with other language-learning programs if you are a beginner, so that you can get the other fundamentals of new languages down.

If you want to sign up for iTalki, please click on the image below!

Improve your English with a native teacher on italki today!

The Best Work at Home Computers for 2019

So you’re looking to start working at home…

Perhaps you’re trying to become a freelance translator, which might be why you’re on this site 😉

But your computer might not be the best for such a task. Maybe it’s too old, or maybe it’s not the best computer you bought.

Well today, I’m going to cover some of the best (in my humble opinion) business desktops and laptops of 2019 for people who are looking to start working from home.

A few things to understand, however before we dive right in:

1. Unless you’re trying to become a day trader or Twitch streamer, understand that you won’t have to completely splurge on a new computer for a work-at-home gig.

2. These recommendations come from my personal experiences with different computers from different companies and are simply my opinions.

3. Keep in mind that in my recommendations, I will have affiliate links up, which means that if you choose to purchase a computer using those links, I will get a commission. However, please be assured that this will not mean I will lie to you about what the best computers are. My goal here is to offer you some options. It is ultimately your choice whether to buy them or not.

Without further ado, let’s get right into it!

1. MacBook Pro

I’ve been a Mac user for several years now. I bought my first MacBook in 2016 and it has worked wonders for me. I recently decided to purchase a new one while giving a family member my old MacBook as I needed something with more processing power (for other projects), but that old MacBook has been with me through thick and thin.

I’ve found Macs to be a very good brand of computers. I’ve used my MacBooks for a wide variety of purposes, from working-at-home as a freelance translator to editing video and audio. MacBooks are powerful and can get so many things done. I’ve never had a serious problem with them. Currently I am using the 2018 version of the MacBook Pro and so far, it’s been very good. 

My only real issue with MacBooks is that they can be INCREDIBLY expensive, as Apple products normally are. The newest 13-inch MacBook Pro starts at about $1,300 and that doesn’t factor in other things like increased storage space, warranty/AppleCare, etc. 

Another great thing about MacBooks is that they last for a while. I’ve known people who have purchased MacBooks over five to ten years ago and they are still using them to this day. They might not work as well as they did when brand new, but they will still get the job done.

Finally, another thing I love about the MacBook is that it’s extremely portable. You might ask, “Isn’t that the point of a laptop?”

Sure, but some laptops are a lot bulkier than others (look at some of the Asus gaming laptops for example!). There are lighter laptops out there but oftentimes this comes at the cost of performance/computing power. MacBooks have both the portability and performance, which makes it the perfect computer to use on-the-go. 

MacBooks can be a great investment, but keep in mind that they are quite expensive. If you’re just starting off and don’t have too much money, I’d recommend something cheaper. I also wish there was more storage space on the MacBooks. Oftentimes I’ve found that I would need to buy a separate hard drive to contain a lot of the files I have.

However, if you do have the money and plan on working-from-home for a significant portion of your time, then I would  definitely recommend MacBooks. 

If you’re interested in purchasing a MacBook Pro, click on the image below! It will take you to the Amazon page where you can purchase your very own MacBook Pro 🙂


^MacBook Pro 13-inch on Amazon

2. Dell Inspiron Laptops

Before switching to Mac, I was a pretty committed Dell user. Not that I had any brand loyalty or anything… It was just the computer brand I was most familiar with.

Inspiron laptops are a lot cheaper than MacBooks, but how does it compare on other aspects?

For one, I thought that Inspiron laptops were decent when it came to performance. They can get quite slow with use over time though, which is something that wasn’t as bad with MacBooks. However, they do have some features that I found lacking with MacBooks.

For one, their hard drives store way more memory than MacBooks do. The newest Inspiron laptops on Amazon that I found have 1 TERABYTE of space!!! It kinda puts the MacBook Pro’s 128 GB to shame. 

Another thing I found useful is that each comes with a DVD drive. It might not be relevant if you’re working a job that doesn’t require handling DVD’s or CD’s, but it might be worth noting. Nowadays, however, everything can just be streamed online so maybe Apple was onto something when they took their DVD drives out (though you can buy a separate optical drive from Apple).

Overall, I’ve also found Inspiron laptops to be quite useful, especially for their prices. If you’re looking for an affordable laptop that can do all the basic work-at-home things you need to get done, this is definitely worth considering.

In the image below is a link to one of their newer Inspiron laptops. The pricing’s not bad! Click to buy!


^2019 Dell Inspiron 14 5000 2-in-1 15.6 Inch Touchscreen Laptop (Intel Core i3-8145U up tp 3.9GHz, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 1TB HDD, WiFi, Bluetooth, HDMI, Win10 Home, Black) (Renewed) on Amazon

3. Microtella Lenovo ThinkCentre M625Q

We’ve covered laptops mainly so far, so here is a desktop that I would recommend for those trying to set up a home office to work from.

I’ve always liked Lenovo computers (maybe because I get a rush of nostalgia when I use one of their ThinkPads). So when I saw the ThinkCentre M625Q, I really wanted to give this one a go.

This computer is not only compact (perfect for small home office spaces) but also runs really well. Setup was pretty easy and once I got that out of the way, it worked perfectly. For a small computer, it sure is fast! It’s also pretty durable, as I’ve accidentally knocked it over a few times and it still works perfectly fine. It can also support multiple displays, which is perfect if you’re like me and have a thousand different windows open at once.

Another thing I really liked about this computer is that it didn’t consume too much electricity either. I highly recommend this computer if you’re trying to start working from home and need an affordable, powerful and small computer to use. It’s also highly affordable, starting at $360 for a 500 GB hard drive and 4 GB of RAM.

If you want to pick one up, click on the image below!


^Microtella Lenovo ThinkCentre M625Q on Amazon

4. Dell Inspiron 22-3277 All-in-One PC

I’ve covered Dell Inspiron laptops, but what about the Dell Inspiron desktops?

This computer is another desktop that I would highly recommend for those trying to work at home. For a rather low price (not as cheap as the Lenovo computer though!), the Dell Inspiron 22-3277 All-in-One is a powerful workhorse that I’d argue should be a staple for any business (whether home-based or not).

This computer not only performed really well, but it also came with a wide variety of features from a large 21-inch touchscreen to drives for multiple kinds of memory cards. Not to mention, it also takes up little space, considering that everything is inside the monitor itself.

Starting at $650 for 1 TB hard drive space and 4 GB RAM, this is one of the best business computers I have worked with. It’s powerful, fairly compact, affordable and also features a touchscreen monitor with beautiful visuals. 

Click below if you’re interested in purchasing one of these powerful bois.


^Dell Inspiron All-In-One PC on Amazon

Conclusion

While this doesn’t nearly scratch the tip of the iceberg of 2019’s highest performing business/work at home computers that I would recommend, I can guarantee that these computers are just the kind you need to start successfully working from home.

If you have any insights, please leave comments and feedback below!