Singing the Praises of italki

I know that I’ve mentioned italki a thousand times on my blog, but it bears repeating:

italkiitalki is one of the most powerful tools that I’ve used as a language learner.

It’s been a huge part of my language learning since I first registered in July 2013. I’ve visited the site nearly every day, and I credit the connections that I’ve made on italki with a lot of my progress in both Spanish and Tagalog.

I’ve been getting some new readers lately (Hello! Welcome!), so I thought that I might briefly share some of the many benefits of this site for language learners.

Not-so-free resources on italki:

  • italki is the best source of online language tutors that I’ve found. I’ve taken well over 100 tutoring sessions since I started learning Spanish (and then Tagalog). I have four scheduled for next week alone. If that’s not an endorsement, then I don’t know what is! Tutors vary in skill, experience and price, but I’ve been extremely satisfied with my experiences so far.

italki regularly hosts challenges for members, encouraging them to complete a certain number of lessons in a set time period. Participants pledge a set amount of credits to participate, and winners get their credits back plus extra credits as a prize.

I love this funny, inspirational italki challenge video by English teacher Brian Foley (who doesn’t seem to be actively teaching right now, but who would probably be very easy to talk to!)

I’ve won two italki challenges so far, and I’m looking forward to the next one. For a pledge of 100 ITC (10 dollars), you can join the October Challenge. Finish 12 lessons during the month, and you win back your 100 ITC plus 200 more!

Looking for a Spanish tutor? I highly recommend Auri, Mati and Rocío.

Looking for a Tagalog tutor? I highly recommend Fats and Joanna.

Free resources on italki:

  • You can find a language exchange partner. Search by language, location, even gender, and connect with someone who is interested in trading languages. I’ve met and spoken with partners from Spain, Argentina, Mexico and the United States.
  • You can find a penpal. Sometimes schedules just don’t match for language exchanges, but I’ve had several penpals in both Spanish and Tagalog. I write in my target language, then they correct my message and respond in their target language, and so on. This is a great way to start communicating with native speakers if you’re feeling anxious about Skype conversations.
  • You can post your writing and have it corrected by native speakers. I go through periods where I post two or three paragraphs per week, and I’ve found that the corrections that I receive are timely and very useful. Writing is great practice, but it’s much more valuable if you have someone to help you reword and correct your work.
  • You can ask quick questions in your target language. Not sure if you should use “para” or “por” in a sentence? Not sure what verb tense to use? Not sure how to say “I’d rather not eat liver and lima beans tonight?” in your target language? Just ask, and someone will probably answer.
  • You can browse through useful articles (if you’re learning English, Mandarin, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, Italian or Russian). Articles contain some real gems about grammar, culture, study strategies, and the way that “real people talk”.

I teach a very limited number of French lessons on italki. I’m not actively looking for students right now, but I have written a few articles on italki that might be of interest to you if you’re learning French:

If you’re not already a member of italki, then I highly recommend that you check it out!

Note: If you join and purchase credits using this link, you’ll provide me with the equivalent of 30-60 minutes of tutoring at no cost to you. To Be Fluent is a personal, non-commercial blog, and I’m posting about italki because I think that it’s one of the best tools out there for language learners. If you think that you might someday like to try out online tutoring, and if you’d like to support my language learning at the same time, then please consider signing up using the referral link!

6 thoughts on “Singing the Praises of italki

  1. Siskia

    Great post (although I think we’ll both agree, Italki holds more graces than can be sung). It truly is one of the biggest information repositories for the linguistically inclined, and their business practices have been well and truly tested–that’s why it’s one of the few websites I like to recommend to other people, myself. 🙂

    The absurd thing is I’ve been a member for the longest time, but I only recently decided to participate in a Challenge for the first time. Are you participating in the October challenge?

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Yes, I do like their business practices! They’re very approachable and available if you have any questions or suggestions. I’m not planning on participating in October. I’m moving across province, I have a sick dog, and my credits on italki are running low. But I may change my mind before then! Good luck in the challenge!

      1. Izzy

        Hi, thanks for all your advice. I am learning Spanish as well. I wanted to know, how much do your language skills improve after taking a challenge?

        I signed up to italki this month so missed the October challenge. Are these challenges quite frequent, since I really want to do one?

        Thanks 🙂

        1. Stephanie Post author

          Hi Izzy! Thanks for stopping by! The challenges work well for me, because they motivate me to spend more time actually speaking. I find that it’s the perfect mix of negative (oh crap, if I don’t do the lessons, I’ll lose my money) and positive (hey, if I finish all of these lessons, I get some free credits!). My ability to speak in a language definitely improves after 12+ hours of speaking. I would recommend contacting teachers before the challenge starts, so that you can explain in writing what you’re looking for (for me, that means speaking only in the target language), and you can hit the ground running. I think that italki ran 3 challenges this year – one at the beginning of the year, one in the summer, and one in October. ¡Buena suerte!

  2. Leese

    I love iTalki! So far I’ve only used it for text conversations because I’ve found it difficult to schedule Skype sessions with people. I work irregular hours and my shifts change from week to week (sometimes day-to-day). Even chatting through text has been a great boost to my confidence, though. I’ve scheduled my first lesson with a tutor for Friday after taking the October Challenge pledge. Time to kick myself in the butt and stop shying away from actually speaking!

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Hi Leese! Skype language exchange is definitely tricky if you don’t have a regular schedule. That’s one of the reasons why I tend to do more tutoring than exchanges now – I can schedule them at my convenience, without all of the back-and-forth to try to find a mutually convenient time. Good luck with your first tutoring session! It’s a bit scary to talk for the first time, but I think you’ll be amazed at the progress you make. Buena suerte!


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