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.
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.
– 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.
-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.
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!