A few months ago, I switched up my usual role as a language teacher and became a student. I started learning Norwegian on an online language platform called italki. In this italki review, I’ll discuss what the platform is like as a student and what you should do if you want to become a teacher on italki!
But first, why Norwegian?
Well, I have plans to visit Norway this holiday season and I don’t want to be totally lost. Even though English is commonly spoken in Scandinavian countries, I know that having a few basics under my belt will help me communicate.
In the past, I tried apps like DuoLingo and Babble. This time, I wanted to find something more conversational. With my focus primarily on listening and speaking, I started to look for talk-based platforms.
I was aware of italki because it’s a popular online English teaching website. After reading several positive italki reviews, I decided to give them a try and I’m very happy I did!
You’re probably reading this post because you’re interested in
- Learning a new language OR
- Becoming an italki teacher
Either way, my biggest piece of advice is to sign up for a trial lesson and see what it’s like.
Trial lessons are inexpensive and fun. It’s the best way to find out if this platform matches your learning and teaching needs.
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What is italki?
iTalki is an online language lesson marketplace. Teachers make compelling profiles and interested students can book them for classes.
Thousands of teachers from around the world offer lessons in dozens of languages. Teachers create their own course offerings and set their own rates and schedules, so there are lots of options to choose from.
italki doesn’t have set lesson plans or curriculum. What you study will be arranged between you and your teacher or tutor.
The italki website also has discussion threads, groups to find language exchange partners, and articles where you can dig deeper into your language of study.
This post will focus on what one-on-one lessons are like from the student perspective and how to become an italki teacher.
How does italki work?
Start taking language classes on italki by making an account. The italki sign up form is pretty simple. You’ll fill in some basic information like your name, email, and a password.
Once you’ve made an account, you’ll search the language you’re interested in learning.
A list of instructors will come up for your target language. You’ll be able to see their profile picture, introductory video, bio, class schedule, and previous student reviews.
How to choose an italki Teacher
Choosing an italki teacher can be daunting because there are so many options. Here are a few tips to help you find the best fit.
In my italki experience, I looked for the following
- Good reviews, specifically reviews that mentioned working with true beginners
- A schedule with lots of availability that worked with my schedule
- A welcoming introduction video
- Reasonable Price
When you see an instructor that looks appealing, you can sign up for a trial class with them, usually at a discounted rate. Most teachers offer this trial class discount feature and some charge as little as $5 for 30 minutes.
You’ll select “book a lesson” and then choose the 30-minute trial lesson option. Then you’ll be taken to the teachers’ availability calendar to select your time slot. Once you choose your spot and put in your payment information, your teacher has 48 hours to approve the lesson and you’ll be good to go.
This is a great chance to meet and see if you’re a compatible teacher/student match before booking more language lessons.
In the time between booking and your first lesson, I recommend introducing yourself to your teacher through the italki messaging system. Explain your language level and tell them what you would like to learn so you get the most out of your lesson.
What are classes like on italki?
When it’s time for your class, you’ll receive an email reminder a few hours beforehand. When it’s class time, you’ll log into italki on your computer or on the italki app and click the “enter classroom” button on your account home page.
This will take you into a platform similar to skype. You’ll be able to see the teacher, a thumbnail of yourself, and a chatbox. Your teacher will be able to share their screen or send you materials via the chatbox. There is also a timer in the classroom to keep you on track.
After the lesson is concluded, you’ll receive an email to verify that the lesson went according to plan. If it did, you’ll confirm and italki will release payment to the teacher. If not, you’ll let them know and italki will help settle the problem.
How much does italki cost?
The cost of an italki lesson varies depending on the teacher and the length of your lesson. In general, most teachers seem to be changing between $10-$20/hour but there are outliers in both directions.
Remember that most teachers offer a discounted 30-minute trial class so you can try them out before you commit to a full price lesson.
Many teachers also offer packages or bundles of classes for a discounted italki price. If you connect with a teacher and are ready to commit to learning a language, doing a bundle of lessons could be a great fit.
After an impressive trial lesson, I chose to do a package of 10, 30-minute Norwegian lessons to prepare for my trip. I received a slight discount for booking in bulk and I got to schedule my lessons out over the next few weeks.
italki Payment Information:
When you book a package or lesson, you pay upfront through italki.
Once each lesson has occurred and you’ve confirmed that there were no issues, italki will transfer the money to the teacher’s account. If there is an issue, you can troubleshoot it through the italki platform.
Because you don’t have to exchange money directly with an instructor, there is less risk of someone disappearing on you which is nice!
One thing to note: On the platform, sometimes you’ll see your payment referred to as “italki Credits.” Don’t worry, 1 italki credit is the same as 1 USD, so it’s not too complicated.
Cancelations and Rescheduling
If a student needs to cancel or reschedule a class, they must do so at least 24 hours before the class is scheduled and the teacher must approve it.
If it’s done more than 24 hours in advance, you’ll have the option to move the class to another available spot or cancel it. You can’t change or reschedule classes within 24 hours of the booking.
Is italki Safe?
So far, I’ve had a great experience with italki. While any marketplace website could have a few creepy people, the tutors I’ve had so far have been professional and friendly.
If you’re nervous to talk to people online, stick with tutors who have several good reviews. Only interact with your teachers on the italki platform. Don’t share your personal contact information and use the built-in italki messaging system for communicating with your tutor.
In researching this post and reading reviews across the web, I didn’t see any complaints about safety regarding italki lessons. Of course, this isn’t saying that nothing weird has ever happened, but it doesn’t seem to be a common complaint among italki Teacher reviews or student reviews.
italki Review for Students: Pros and Cons
My italki teacher is the reason I can now make a few sentences in Norwegian! I’m not a language person either, so I’m very happy about this! If I can do it, you definitely can too.
I never would have learned the correct pronunciation or natural conversation flow without talking to a native speaker. My attempts to self teach on free apps just didn’t offer enough support for a brand new beginner like me.
italki Pros [as a student]
- One-on-one lessons with native language speaker
- Suitable for true beginners with plenty of support
- Excellent for conversation practice and practical application
- Lots of teachers to choose from with tons of backgrounds
italki Cons [as a student]
- Somewhat strict cancelation policy, can’t reschedule or change unless its 24 hours in advance
- You might have to try a few teachers before you find one that you really connect with
italki Review for Teachers
Part two of this review will focus on teaching with italki. If you want to teach English or another language online, this might be a good fit for you.
For clarity – I’m not an italki teacher, but my positive experience with the platform is making me tempted to try it out! This italki teacher review is based on the information on the italki website, conversations with existing teachers, and my impressions of the platform as a student.
Who should become an italki teacher?
italki is a popular website to teach English online (or any other language for that matter). It’s one of the more free-form platforms out there and getting started is easy.
italki might be a good fit for you if you:
- Want to teach online but don’t have a BA degree. With italki, you can apply to be a community tutor, no experience required! See more companies where you can teach English online without a degree here!
- Prefer to teach adult students
- Want to offer a variety of classes and create your own lessons, like business English, interview skills, etc.
- Speak multiple languages. You could tutor more than one for a wider pool of students.
- Require very flexible hours. Since your italki students come from all over the world, this job makes a good complement to companies like VIPKID that only operate during China peak times.
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How can I become an italki Teacher
If you’re wondering how to become a teacher on italki, the first thing you’ll need to do is make a free italki profile. You can sign up here.
Once you have an italki account, go to your italki dashboard and scroll to the bottom of the page. Under the “Teaching” section, you’ll see a link that says “Become a Teacher.”
You’ll be taken to the italki teacher application where you’ll read more information about the process and fill out your qualifications.
Read the application instructions and video instructions carefully so you know what they’re looking for. If your italki application is incomplete, it might get rejected and you’ll have to start over.
Also, when you fill out the form remember to highlight your best teaching qualifications since this will become your teacher profile if you’re approved.
italki Teacher Requirements: Community Tutor vs. Professional Teacher
There are two different kinds of teacher accounts you can make on italki, a Community Tutor profile and a Professional Teacher profile.
iTalki Community Tutor Requirements
- 18+ years old
- 1-3 minute introductory video
- Community tutors must be native speakers or at least level C2 in the languages taught
iTalki Professional Teacher Requirements
- 18+ years old
- 1-3 minute introductory video
- Native or at least level C2 in the languages you teach
- Professional teachers must provide CV, References, Employment Statements, TEFL Certificates, or any other documents showing your teaching experiences
- Bachelor’s Degree OR Teaching Qualification
To apply for italki jobs, all teachers are required to have
- reliable internet connection
- VOIP Software (via Skype, Facetime, etc)
- Webcam and microphone for classes
- A written introduction
- An italki video introduction
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How much does italki pay?
On iTalki, teachers set their own pay rates. You’ll see a wide range of rates on the platform but when I was looking through it seemed like most lessons were between $10-$20 per hour.
When you’re first starting, you might want to consider setting lower rates to attract more students and build up some good reviews. Then, once you have experience on the platform, you can increase your italki teacher salary gradually.
It’s free to sign up as a teacher and set up your account and course offerings. You won’t pay italki anything for being on the platform, but they keep 15% of the lesson fee you charge after each completed class.
They don’t charge this fee for trial lessons. Keep the italki fees in mind when setting your pay rate.
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Advice for aspiring italki language teachers
If you’re on the fence about becoming an italki teacher, my best advice would be to try a lesson for yourself before you apply.
Make an account as a student and see what it’s like to go through the platform, choose a teacher, and take a language class.
This will help you because
- You’ll get familiar with the technical sides of the platform
- You’ll get to see what activities other teachers do in their introductory trial classes to give you some inspiration when you’re just starting out
- By experiencing the platform as a student, you’ll get an insight into what students look for when picking a teacher. This could help you make a more attractive profile
- You can do some pricing research and see what people with your similar qualifications are charging for lessons
Considering that most teachers offer trial lessons for around $5, this is a great way to get your feet wet on the platform before diving right in. And you’ll get to practice another language! How fun is that?
Final thoughts about italki
My experience learning Norwegian on italki has been great so far and I’m excited to keep using the platform in the future.
I’m also interested in making a teacher account because I think it would be fun to work with more advanced and adult students in addition to my usual younger learners.
Whether you’re interested in teaching or learning on italki, start by booking a trial lesson to see if the platform feels like a good match. I hope you love it as much as I do!
If you have any questions about italki, feel free to comment below or send me a message.