I can confidently say that Italki is THE BEST language resource there is (Okay, it’s my opinion, but I really mean it!) I have a million reasons to use Italki, the main ones being that I wouldn’t have been able to learn conversational Italian without it or that moving to France would have been nearly impossible without it! I’ve put together a list that will convince you that you have to try it out!
1. Lessons are Really Cheap
Since the whole basis of this blog (and my whole life) is “Live Cheap, Travel More” this was a huge selling point for me. I honestly don’t think that any other way of learning a language gets you as much ROI than Italki.
For the money that you spend, you are progressing so much more than if you took a generic language class (I’m looking at you, college!!) that focuses on all the wrong things.
Instead, for the amount you would spend on a language course, you could be VERY fluent in one or more languages with Italki!
Of course, you can take very expensive classes on Italki as well, but the best way to use Italki is a conversation practice which is much cheaper. This brings us to reason #2…
However, if you’d rather not pay for iTalki lessons, here’s how to use iTalki for free!
2. Lessons are Conversation-Based
There are two types of classes or “teacher types” you can take on Italki. The first is a more expensive lesson that will cover specific topics like a traditional classroom would.
Usually, these cost $12 and up (usually more) and are more organized.
These teachers have to have a degree in language and experience in the field in order to teach these classes. They are called “Professional” teachers
The second type of class is a conversation class, which is less rigid and much cheaper. These teachers are called “Community Tutors.”
There is a common misconception that these classes are for more advanced students, which is not correct.
Usually, I spend a couple of weeks learning basic vocabulary on my own through Duolingo, then I jump right into this type of class right from the beginning.
I have done this with Italian and French, starting with almost no knowledge of either language.
It is very important to express to your teacher that you DO NOT want any part of the lesson to be in English. Your main goal is to force your brain to understand by giving it no other choice.
When you are talking one-on-one with someone, having a conversation even with broken language, true learning can happen.
You will start to WANT to communicate with them, which is why you are learning the language in the first place!
Also, here’s how you can buy an iTalki gift card!
3. Relaxed Classroom (Less Scary)
So the process I just explained might sound absolutely terrifying to some people. However, since the class is all about helping you to communicate in another language, it is very relaxed.
You can make as many mistakes as you want and they won’t get frustrated with you. Why? Cuz you’re paying them!!
You can get feedback on your mistakes without feeling like you’re inconveniencing the person you’re talking to.
When I wanted to learn Italian, Jake and I moved to Italy for a few months. However, since I hadn’t taken enough Italki lessons before going, my level wasn’t high enough to converse with locals.
They would get frustrated with my language skills and I would get embarrassed so quickly and then my language would freeze up even more.
However, with French, I learned from my mistakes with Italian and took months of classes and spent more time in the italki classroom(about 2 per week), and by the time I got to France I was able to have simple conversations without frustrating everyone around me.
This doesn’t mean that my French is great (I have a lot of work to do still!) but since locals are more willing to talk to me, I am able to learn a lot more than I did in Italy and in a much shorter period of time.
Is iTalki Free? Read this post to find out.
4. Super Friendly Language Teachers
This goes a bit with the last reason, but it’s one reason why I keep returning to Italki as a language learner! I absolutely love my teachers and I miss them when I’m not taking classes.
We have talked about all kinds of things in our hours of conversation and have become friends!
I’ve been invited to visit them in Spain, Italy, and France and I keep in contact with some of them even when I’m not taking classes.
5. Flexible Cancellation
All Italki classes can be canceled and rescheduled up to 24 hours before your class time. This is a huge plus for me since we are able to be super flexible with our schedule.
If you don’t show up for your class and communicate with your teacher, you might be able to change the class time even within 24 hours depending on the teacher.
Lots of things can go wrong with online classes (I know this too well, it’s my job with VIPKID!) and if something technical goes wrong, you can report it and come to an agreement with your teacher to reschedule the class.
5. Conversation Classes Can Include Grammar, Too
Although the conversation classes are cheaper, that doesn’t mean that your teachers are any less prepared! If there is a specific grammar topic that you don’t understand, feel free to discuss it with them! They will help you figure it out.
I have some teachers who even have ebooks and worksheets that they bring to class to help with reading skills and grammar. Just because you aren’t taking a “professional” class doesn’t mean you aren’t learning as much!
6. You Can Learn Anywhere
This should go up much higher on the list, but here we are! lol You can learn a language ANYWHERE with online language classes. All you need is a stable internet connection and you’ll be learning a language with online language lessons in no time!
When people ask me how I learned Italian and I tell them that I took Skype lessons, they are completely shocked.
But like I told you before, when we lived in Italy I almost got NO practice because my level was so low.
They would either not talk to me or only talk to me in English (which I repeatedly asked them not to since I really wanted to learn, but it didn’t work), and by the time we left I still was at a very basic level of Italian.
So what did I do? We moved to Turkey and I started taking multiple Italki lessons per week as well as talking with free conversation partners that I met on Italki (we’ll talk about that in the next point).
By the time we left Turkey (2 months later), I was able to hold conversations in Italian without making them feel uncomfortable!
7. Free Conversation Partners
UPDATE: This part of iTalki has been shut down, unfortunately.
If you are really trying to save money, then free language exchanges on iTalki might be a good option for you! Italki doesn’t only have paid teachers, but you can find people who want to do “language exchanges.”
After making an account on Italki, you can log in and under the “Community” tab you can click “Find Language Partners.”
Here you can choose what language you speak fluently and what language you’d like to learn. It will show you all the people who would like to speak to you for free!
I have met a few really good friends through this and it is super fun, but it can be difficult to find language partners who will actually show up when they say.
It might take a week or so to find the right person, but once you exchange Skype information and talk to them, it is worth it!
You can decide with your language exchange partners how long you want to talk, but usually, I would do an hour (30 minutes in each language).
8. When You Pay For Something, You Show Up
Although free sounds better, it can sometimes not be as good for language learning. Like I mentioned in the last section when the class is free, sometimes the language partner doesn’t actually show up.
The same can go for you! It’s easier to forget or to cancel because it doesn’t affect you as much. When it comes to learning a new language, sometimes paying a fee for italki credits is exactly what you need to actually show up for yourself and start learning.
I sometimes dread going to the class that I signed up for when I was in a way better mood lol. But I know that I paid for it and I respect my teacher, so I show up.
I ALWAYS feel better after taking the class (learning languages and getting it right can be such a high!) and I honestly don’t think I’d be at the level I’m at now without actually investing in paid classes.
9. You’ll Actually See Results
My very favorite reason for using Italki is that I actually can see a difference in my language skills. When you actually conjugate a sentence in the past tense correctly, or when a word you learned in the last class pops in your head right when you needed it, there’s nothing better!
Although I supplement my classes with Duolingo and Netflix (Spanish TV shows are SO GOOD!) I don’t do very much outside of my classes. But I can now speak 3 different languages in varying levels of ability thanks to Italki!
So stop saying that you wish you could speak a language and just force yourself through some Italki classes, you’ll be speaking with native speakers in no time!
10. You Can Set Your Own Schedule
As someone who moves around a lot, it’s a huge deal that you can change the time zone every time you’re in a new country and check your teacher’s calendar to see if it fits.
This has made it so I sometimes have had to try out new teachers if I was in Mexico and they were in Italy and our schedules didn’t match or they didn’t have any availability for that time. But italki has made learning a foreign language so much more accessible as a traveler and digital nomad.
11. You Can Try Out Teachers With Trial Lessons
iTalki has 15-minute or 30-minute trial lessons that allow you to try out a class for a super low price to see if you are a good fit.
Although I’ve had a great experience with most of the teachers I’ve met through iTalki, there have been a few that I didn’t continue to take classes with.
12. iTalki is Way Better than Preply
I have to say that I think iTalki is the best platform available for language learners. In fact, I wrote a very brutal review of Preply and why I don’t use it.
Other competitors to iTalki really can’t compete on price.