italki is one of the best language tutoring platforms on the market. They offer affordable tutoring lessons in hundreds of languages, and booking a lesson is easy and quick.
In this review, I take a look at some of the lesser-known features of italki and share some of my tips and tricks for using it
Since this review is quite extensive, I've included a handy contents table so you can navigate straight to the areas that you need the most.
What is italki?
italki is an online tutoring platform, that allows language learners to find teachers or tutors from around the world at an affordable rate. You'll also find a helpful community to help you on your language journey.
What can you do on italki?
The primary function of italki is as an online marketplace that facilitates online language lessons. If you’re looking for a professional teacher or an informal tutor for your language studies, you can find somebody on italki.
Similarly, if you’re a tutor or teacher yourself, or have ambitions of becoming one, italki is a great place to find new students. There are a lot of people looking for help, and as long as you make your profile stand out you will get a lot of business this way.
The other part is their community section where you can improve your language learning with a bunch of different features, which I'll get into later on in this review.
The community section has been slightly under the radar, possibly due to their branding as a tutoring platform for a long time. With the new website redesign in 2016, I feel like they took some good steps into integrating the other features into a coherent unit.
Get Online Language Tutoring with Tutors and Teachers
The biggest benefit of italki is the huge selection of teachers and tutors that you can find for just about any language.
The marketplace is very reasonably priced and I’ve had great success with tutors from there.
Note: If you want to know more about picking a tutor, I've written an extensive guide on what criteria and information I use to make my decision in this post: How To Pick The Right Language Tutor
The difference between an informal tutor and a professional teacher is that the teacher requires qualifications, whereas anyone can become a tutor.
Teachers are approved manually by verifying the credentials. So as a rule of thumb if you want someone academically educated in the language, go for professional. If you just want someone to speak with who can explain you the language on a basic level go for an informal tutor.
I used informal tutors exclusively for my online language lessons because the ambitious ones usually go above and beyond to provide an excellent service. Also, they price themselves cheaper because of this.
It’s worth trying both so you can find your favourite, but be sure to make it clear to a professional teacher that you expect a higher level of teaching for your money.
How much does italki cost?
Tutors and teachers set their own rates on italki so you'll find a huge variety of hourly fees. Generally speaking, and understandably so, tutors have lower rates, and qualified teachers, such as those with a TEFL, set higher rates.
The average cost of a one-hour private video lesson on italki is $7-12 but you can find teachers for as low as $3 and as high as $40+.
Take a Lesson on italki and get $10 free towards your next lesson!
italki operates a referral program, so if you join via my link, and pay for a lesson, you will get $10 worth of free credits.
I'll also get $10 credits! It's a win-win situation.
As a language learner, you also get invited by italki to take part in regular language challenges. When this article first appeared on the blog it was the italki New Year’s Challenge. The premise is simple: to get you doing more online language lessons – which is a great growth factor for language learning.
To entice you to complete more lessons they offer rewards in the form of bonuses and sometimes even credits to use on lessons. This means you’re getting paid to learn a language, or at least refunded some of the costs of the lessons.
That’s pretty cool.
Become an online language teacher yourself
You can also list yourself as a teacher and start making money online by doing online language lessons. This is something I did for Danish and although it doesn't pay fortunes from the start, it’s a very convenient way to earn some money on the side.
Some take it to the next level and teach/tutor 40+ lessons a week, but I know personally I could never do that. It’s an extremely demanding job to teach and so I would just do it on the side and limit the number of students I took on to a comfortable amount.
I know some who do the full time+ and love to do it, so don’t be discouraged by me saying I couldn't do that many hours. It’s totally possible to make a living tutoring your native language on the internet. You don’t even need qualifications or experience. Cool right?
Community – take it to the next level
With the teaching and tutoring aspect of italki out of the way let’s dive into the community side of the website. This used to be relatively well-hidden and the only way you would find out about it was to have an active account and to randomly click around on the website.
Now, they've greatly improved the visibility of the community and, with the recent facelift of the website, I'm very excited to see where this section of the website will go in the future.
The community section features articles for language learners as well as a host of other features. Here is a selection of what they offer right now.
The coolest part of the community is the “Notebook” where you can practice writing in the target language.
Other websites such as lang-8 offer this as well, but it’s great to see it integrated into a website that does a lot of other things for you learning too.
The premise of this section is simple.
You submit a text in a foreign language for practice and native speakers will correct you. I tried posting a Russian text once with my terrible Russian and somebody responded with corrections within 30 minutes.
After the post had run its course I had received 8 or 10 replies.
This is extremely powerful.
If you’re teaching on the site you can also use this feature to market yourself. Spend some time correcting people’s posts in the language you’re teaching and watch the student requests tick in.
On top of the proofreading, there is also a basic Q&A section where you can ask any question about the target language. Questions could be from “When do you use word X over word Y?” to “How do you pronounce this?”
In general a place to get all your questions answered. As a language learner, I have tons of them, and I’m really glad there’s a platform here to get them answered.
As with anything else, if you receive a lot of corrections or answers on italki be sure to reciprocate and help other people out. If everyone were completely selfish there would be no community.
2020 Update: The italki community is still going strong, with several different sections such as the italki Answers, italki Discussions and italki Notebook proving the most popular. These forums continue to be extremely useful for anyone wanting a quick correction for their work or those hoping to connect with other language learners and natives.
Last, but not least, italki also facilitates language exchanges so students of a language can help each other out on a more organised basis.
This is a great addition to getting lessons, as you can use the language in practice.
Doing a language exchange comes with its own set of challenges, but if you can manage to align the expectations of both parties then it can be very successful.
italki Review Conclusion
italki is undoubtedly the number one marketplace for finding a language tutor or teacher online. With their increasing focus on building a community, this might be the only language learning community you'll need.
I'm a huge fan and I can't recommend it enough.
On top of that, you can even make money by teaching online language lessons. There are lots of full-time teachers earning a living, and there is absolutely nothing stopping you from doing the same.
My first time as an Italki student: This is my complete breakthrough of taking online language lessons, after having put it off for 6-7 months. It literally changed my life.
How to take your italki tutoring to the next level: A helpful piece on how to get more out of your tutoring.
How to pick an italki tutor: In this article, I describe how I pick a tutor out of all the ones offering their services on italki.
Why italki Challenges are really powerful: In this post, I explain why the challenges italki run every now and again are so powerful.
I hope you enjoyed my italki review. Be sure to check out the other posts above for more tutoring information!