All About italki! (How to Use it Best, What to Expect, + More!)

All about italki. How to use it, what to expect, and more! Plurilingualism.com

italki is one of my favorite language learning resources.

It is entirely customizable to your lifestyle and will certainly help even an absolute beginner reach a C1 level, with time.

However, no matter your level, goal, time restraint, or study routine, italki is a benefit.

When used with other resources (like fun games, music, lesson based sites, vocab learning sites, watching TV or reading, etc) italki can help create the best language learning routine for any language learner.


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What is italki and how do you use it?

italki benefits

italki is a language learning community with the goal of connecting students and teachers for private, online language tutoring sessions.

Via italki, you can personalize your study plan and find a teacher that fit your lifestyle and language learning style!

They also have a community feature which is helpful for practicing the language, asking questions, setting up language exchanges, correcting others work, etc.

On top of this, italki offers language tests in several languages, as well!

More on the italki community and the language tests below.


How to find an italki tutor and book a lesson:

italki - finding a teacher
As you can see here, you have tons of options to narrow down the search for the perfect teacher!

Finding a tutor and booking a lesson is super easy!

Once you make an account, you just click on the “find a teacher” button and select your criteria.

Here are all of the filters:

– The language you wish to learn (they offer 150 so far!)

– Exactly where the teacher is from (great for focusing on a specific accent or dialect)

– What language(s) the teacher also speaks (so you can communicate in your native language, as well. This is very important if you are new to your target language and cant speak it yet)

– The price (this ranges greatly! Some lessons are quite cheap at 5 USD per hour and some are 50 USD or more per hour!)

– The type of lesson (communication based, grammar based, writing practice, test prep, etc)

– Time and date (I usually leave this blank, but if you have only one specific time you can do a lesson, this is a great filter)

– The type of teacher (professional or a “community” teacher – more on that below)

When you book a lesson with a teacher of your choice, you can either book a 30 minute trial (italki allows only a set number of trials per user) or a full lesson.

Tutors decide what types of lessons they want to offer. Lessons can be 30, 45, or 60 minutes and can be on a wide variety of topics.

When you choose the lesson type and length you want, you are taken to a calendar to look at the tutor’s availability.

If you see a green slot, you can select and book the lesson right away! A gray, striped slot means someone else has booked this time already.

If you cant find an ideal time, you can also try requesting a custom slot and the tutor may (or may not) accept!

What is the difference between a professional italki teacher and an italki community tutor?

A professional teacher is a “highly-skilled and qualified teacher who have experience helping students reach their goals”. Basically: they have certifications to teach and/or have extensive professional experience.

A community tutor is a “native or advanced speaker who helps students through informal tutoring or speaking practice”. Basically: they might not have any teaching certifications or have worked in a professional teaching job in the past, but they are happy to help others learn!

Weather you choose a professional teacher or a community tutor is up to you. There are pros and cons to both!

Professional teachers will have more experience, in general, and will be able to often offer a more in-depth, high quality lesson (that has been well practiced in the past!), but they can be pricey.

Community tutors are generally much cheaper. They typically are a bit more “loose” in their lesson planning (i.e conversation classes with only talking are most popular, rather than any advanced grammar lessons, test prep, etc), but you can always find amazing, highly experienced, and advanced community tutors if you search!

With italki you can always try out one teacher and switch to another if the fit is not right. There is no contract to stick with only one teacher (unless you bought a lesson package with them!). You can try out as many teachers as needed to find your perfect match.


How to use the italki community:

italki community

The community section on italki has really grown in recent years and is something that can be very helpful!

You can view several different subsections here, such as:

For You – a curated list of content, mostly from italki, that is popular or relevant to the time of year, etc.

Podcasts – a section of podcasts in multiple languages from italki and italki teachers

Exercise – lots of exercises for you to complete, or correct from others, in multiple languages. There are always fresh “daily practice” prompts in your target language(s) up top for you to complete

Questions – you can ask (or answer!) any questions related to any languages here. I have asked questions about grammar, idioms, my homework, etc. in the past and have always gotten helpful answers!


italki language tests:

If you are learning English, Spanish, French, German, Japanese, Italian, or Portuguese, you can complete a language test on italki!

They offer a True North Speaking Test for all languages and a WebCAPE Grammar Test for all languages except Japanese and Portuguese.

These tests do come at a cost though – 30 USD as of 2022.

The tests seem to be very high quality, professional, and you do get the results immediately!

I have never taken a language test from italki myself, however if an employer/school/etc. is looking for you to take a language test, it would be worth asking them about the italki language test as a possibility, I believe!


What to expect in an italki lesson:

This depends a lot on what you have booked.

However, in general, you will be notified on italki and via email that your lesson will begin 30 minutes before the scheduled time.

The lesson will be via Zoom or Skype (whichever you prefer) and will cover the topic(s) you selected and last the amount of time you have selected as well.

Afterwards, you will be prompted by italki to confirm the lesson took place and asked if you want to submit a review. The teacher can review you, as a student, as well!

You can then schedule more lessons, switch to a new teacher if this was not a good fit, etc.

In general, I have found the teachers to be very patient and helpful.

They will usually guide the conversation and help you open up, if you are not naturally extroverted!

The first lesson is almost always a “get to know” lesson. The teachers want to see if you are a good fit together, get an idea of your language level and goals, learn about your interests, etc.

After this, my teachers have always made a plan just for me (based on what we talked about in that first lesson!) and adjusted later, as needed.

I personally like to find teachers who offer homework as well! So you may or may not have a few homework assignments (if you ask for it!) or, at the very least, some guidelines or tips for studying in-between your lessons as well!


italki Language Challenge:

The italki Language Challenge is a fun challenge to complete a certain number of hours of lessons within a certain time period (usually 1-2 months).

If you achieve your goal (or just any goal from 12 hours on – even if its less than your initial goal), you win certain prizes.

If you reach the top 3, 10, or 50 spots worldwide, you also get extra special rewards per level – like a tote bag or credits (up to $500!)

Signing up for this challenge is free, though you will have to pay for each lesson you take. How much that is depends on the teacher you have chosen!

If you are looking for a fun way to propel you forward in language learning, this challenge is a great option.

If you want to take it slow with italki and are looking for something 100% free, though, try one of these challenges instead!


italki Tips & Tricks!

Record your lessons, if possible!

If you have the consent of your teacher, this is a great way to get much more out of the lesson!

I personally tend to forget 90% of a lesson afterwards, if I don’t take notes or record it.

Recording the lesson allows you to go back and remember everything that was said and catch what you might have missed.

You can slow down a recording, for example, to catch small pronunciation or grammatical features. One idea is to take note of what you said or did wrong and study it extra that week!

Or you can re-listen to a part you just didn’t understand the first time. Maybe it clicks right away on the second listen! If not, make a note to research it that week and/or talk to your teacher about it next time.

You can also re-listen to then take notes in peace! Writing notes with no time pressure makes for much better notes, I find.

There are lots of ways you can use a recording to help you. Even just storing the recording and looking back in a year or two is great! You will have most certainly improved greatly and having proof of that improvement is a huge motivator.

Take notes!

As mentioned above, I tend to forget a lesson if I don’t record it or take notes.

If your teacher doesn’t want you to record the lesson, or you just don’t feel comfortable asking, no worries!

Taking notes will help you retain and understand the information much better than if you just attend the lesson and move on afterwards.

I like to get a notebook just for my lessons and homework (as mentioned, I love homework and always seek a teacher who assigns me some).

I am obsessed with my Scribbles That Matter notebook as I love to use color and draw around my notes when I review them (STM has some thick pages), but any old notebook will work!

In my notebook, I will write the date and topic of the lesson. I will have a section for new words and phrases, a section for new grammar topics, a section for me to look into more later, and a main section where I take notes on the actual lesson. I will write down what we talk about, how we practice, etc.

Later on, I will go back and enter any new words and vocab into Memrise (my favorite vocab tool), find some sites to practice the grammar with, and research topics I didn’t fully understand.

This helps me to fill up an entire week’s worth of language learning with just one italki lesson!

Find a tutor who assigns homework!

As mentioned, I am a big fan of homework.

I hated it in school, but now that I am old enough to choose to study what I want (goodbye high school. I will never miss you), I love homework.

Homework will help you practice what you learn in your lessons.

You will retain the information much better and you will know how to use it next time!

You cannot expect to learn a complex grammatical feature of a language in any decent time period just by talking about it with a teacher. If you want to learn well and quickly, you need to put what you learn into practice.

Finding a teacher who has homework and will assign it to you will skyrocket your learning.

Have a goal and let your teacher know!

Having good language goals is so important.

If you have no goal, you can tend to learn aimlessly, just striving to be “fluent” one day. That is too abstract and will hinder your learning greatly.

Having a concrete goal will help you learn better and faster!

Having a concrete goal and letting your teacher know your goal will really help you!

If your teacher knows your goal and you keep them on the up and up, they can work as an accountability partner for you. They will help you stay on track and (ideally) adjust lessons for this goal.

If you have a goal to pass a specific language exam within 6 months, for example, search for a teacher who specializes in that exam. Tell them your goal and work with them to achieve it.

If you have a goal to be able to comfortably hold a 30 minute conversation in 2 months with no dictionary help, tell your teacher! Have them customize your lessons to help you smash this goal.

I have found all of my teachers to be very supportive and encouraging. If I ever told them my goal, they made sure to help me achieve it! They will surely do the same for you and this will improve your language learning massively.


Have you used italki before? If not, are you thinking of trying it out now? I hope so!

I hope you make leaps and bounds in your language learning this year and hit all of your language goals! πŸ™‚


Don’t forget to check out my language learning printables on Etsy! πŸ™‚

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