iTalki Language Learning Program Review
Welcome to my review of the iTalki language learning program! In this review, I’ll introduce you to the system and how to use it, let you know what I consider to be all the pros and cons of the iTalki language system, and give you tips to get the most out of it. And of course, I’ll have my verdict at the end! If you want to learn more or sign up, you can click to join iTalki here! It costs nothing to join; you only pay if you want to take your first lesson. This article contains affiliate links for which I may earn a commission at absolutely NO cost to you. All proceeds will be used to support this blog, and I NEVER promote products I don’t personally use and enjoy. This article is not sponsored by iTalki, and I purchased lessons with my own money.
How To Get Started
It’s easy to get started with iTalki! First, you register for an account by providing your contact information. After you do that, you’re also invited to change your profile photo and provide a bio (both optional). I recommend providing a short bio to let any future instructors know a bit about you, your goals, your experience level, and your preferred learning style. The next step is to search for a teacher in the language, or languages, you want to learn. Yes! You can take as many languages as you want simultaneously. There are over 10,000 teachers on iTalki to choose from!
You’re on Your Language Learning Journey!
Then you schedule a lesson with your selected teacher, at a time that is convenient for you. You will need to add funds to your iTalki account to book a lesson, but you can get a trial lesson for only a few dollars. Finally, the last step is to prepare for and attend your session! Make sure you have Skype, or whatever your teacher’s preferred webcam meeting software is, installed, tested and ready to go! (Most teachers use Skype, which is free to download and use.) Then that’s it – mark your calendar and have a notebook handy!
Advantages of iTalki
iTalki is a great language learning system in many ways, which I’ve outlined below!
- Learn anywhere! You can use iTalki on their website with your computer. Or you can download their app, on Apple or Android, for your tablet and/or smartphone. It’s easy to take your lessons with you on the go! (Remember to download the Skype app, too!)
- One-on-one tutoring! With iTalki, the classroom consists on one teacher and one student – and that student is you.
- Choose your teacher. You have the freedom to choose your own teacher. There’s a lot of features on iTalki to base your decision on. Each teacher posts a video introducing themselves which you can watch, and you can check out their reviews, statistics, and schedule. You can schedule multiple sessions with one teacher, or switch it up and try multiple teachers!
- Choose your topic. Unlike other language programs, you’re completely in control of the content you’re learning. Just email your teacher before the lesson, and let them know what you want to learn about. Want to learn k-pop lyrics and terminology from your Korean teacher? No problem. Want to talk Brazilian football? Your Brazilian Portuguese teacher will be happy to oblige. Just want to stick to travel vocabulary and phrases, like how to check in to a hotel or order in a restaurant? You got it! This was a welcome relief for me, someone who took four languages in college and was barraged with boring “classroom” vocabulary…
- Great for visual learners. I’m a visual learner, so my attention span is very short for the many audio language learning programs available. Visual learners will get plenty of visual stimulation here, with real-time conversation with a person they can see, and the visual prompts their teacher provides.
- Virtually every language on the planet. You’d be hard-pressed to fail to find a teacher for any language from around the world here. Practically every language is represented. Whether you want to learn a popular language like Spanish or French, or a more obscure language like Zulu or Pashto, you’ll find it here. iTalki has many languages other programs don’t offer.
- Cultural immersion through time with a native. I think iTalki says it best on their website: “On iTalki it’s about mastering a timeless skill, cultivating new perspectives, and connecting with fascinating people from around the world.” Remember, you can talk about the culture of the country the teacher is from, not just the language, and get a more well-rounded experience. It may even further inspire you to learn!
- Good value. Teachers set their own prices, and most range between $5 an hour to $25 an hour. The majority are around $10-$15. And you can get trial lessons for a few bucks. There’s two types of instructors. The first type are certified teachers, which usually cost more. Then there’s community tutors which can be a very good bargain. They may also be very experienced with teaching even though they’re not certified. Have a look at how many lessons they’ve conducted on iTalki to find out!
- Learn at your own pace. You’re in the driver’s seat. Are you already overseas and need to pick up the language quickly? Let your instructor know, and they’ll put you on the fast track. You can also schedule more frequent lessons. Or are you super busy and need to slow things down? Ask your teacher to slow down the pace, and schedule fewer sessions.
- Learn on your own time. With 10,000+ teachers on iTalki, you’re sure to find one whose schedule perfectly suits yours. You choose the lesson blocks that best work for you. Schedule twelve hours in advance, or find a teacher that offers “instant” lessons!
Disadvantages of iTalki
- Some teachers are better than others. This isn’t a major issue though, because you can easily mitigate the problem by viewing teachers’ statistics and student reviews. It’s easy to weed out the “bad apples.”
- Intimidating for shy people. I admit, I’m one of those shy people, and I was very nervous when I attended my first session. But my instructor quickly made me feel comfortable, and I got over my self-consciousness fast. And you always have the option to turn your webcam off. Only the teacher is required to have their webcam turned on.
- Need to overcome “accent embarrassment.” A lot of people are uncomfortable practicing speaking foreign languages. They feel embarrassed that their accent is not “perfect.” But remember – you are a customer. The last thing a teacher wants to do is insult a paying customer. And your teacher will help you improve your pronunciation!
- Community features are lacking. This is definitely not a dealbreaker, but I rarely use the community features. There’s a forum and the occasional contest, but both come across as underwhelming.
Tips for Using iTalki
- Email your teacher ahead of time with your goals. To get the most out of your lesson, don’t waste time during the session to tell your teacher what you want. And give them a chance to prepare. If you have a textbook you’d like to use, they may even be able to access a copy.
- Set a reminder on your calendar. You’re getting a live lesson from a real person. Be considerate of their time by making sure you’re on-time for your lessons.
- Take notes. You’ll retain the information from your lesson better if you review it again later in the week. And the action of writing something down helps with retention better than just hearing it.
- Practice on your own after the lesson for retention. No where is the old adage “practice makes perfect” more true than in language learning… Your progress will be directly related to your practice.
- Be consistent. Don’t go weeks without a lesson and get rusty. Then you’ll have to waste time re-learning material you already learned. While it’s true that it’s easier to pick up material you’re rusty with than learning from scratch, it’s still more work than just keeping up. I recommend working with your language a couple of times a week at least. That could mean getting lessons on iTalki, or alternating your lessons on iTalki with independent study (with a textbook, YouTube, or other online program), and review of your lessons.
- Consider “package” plans to save money. Many teachers offer a “package plan” if you purchase multiple lessons from them at once. The cost of each individual lesson is cheaper than if you purchased each lesson individually.
I highly recommend iTalki as one of my favorite language learning programs! The ability to choose your own teacher, and have one-on-one instruction with them in real-time, learning about the topics YOU care about, is unique. You can join iTalki or get more information by clicking here. There’s no cost just to sign up or browse the site. And if you want to compare iTalki to another language learning program, check out my review of Fluenz in my Fluenz Review blog post here! Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this article, please remember to share on social media! And please leave a comment below – are you learning any foreign languages? What languages would you like to learn? And what systems are you using? I look forward to reading your responses!