Italki Review Summary
Take a look at any italki review online and you’ll find praise for this platform, which has revolutionized the way we learn languages online. italki is a global language learning community that connects students and teachers for 1-on-1 online language lessons. Today, more than 10,000 teachers are teaching more than 5 million students over 130 languages on the italki platform.
italki is up against fierce competition out there as more and more language learning services adopt this model, but it has been described as the most affordable place to learn a language online with a native tutor.
As a learner, you are able to browse through the many teachers that teach the language you want to learn and choose the one that best suits your preferred learning style, methods and personality. italki does not set the pricing. Instead, teachers set their own prices and availability – you just select the tutor that matches your budget range and schedule.
If you’re reading this then it’s likely you’re interested in finding out whether or not italki is the right language learning solution for you; you’ve probably already stumbled upon the italki website whilst searching for ways to learn a language online.
This italki review is quite extensive as I discuss how much italki costs, the italki classroom feature, the italki app, the languages you can learn with italki and much more. If any of this is not relevant to you, just select the part that is via the menu below.
What is italki and why do you see it whenever you search for online language learning resources?
italki is an online space that connects language learners with language teachers. It has a handful of unique features, but this is pretty much the main USP.
There are several reasons that italki has been so successful, more so than many most other language learning resources out there.
Firstly, it satisfies the need not necessarily of any language learner, but of anybody who wants to learn to actually speak a foreign a language. What is that need?
The world is full of genuinely excellent language learning resources that set out to help learners memorise grammar and vocabulary. I’ve tried many of them.
Companies like Memrise, Pimsleur and Rocket Languages use trialled and tested language learning methods that have helped thousands of people master fluency in a foreign language.
However, few things are as effective as face to face human interaction when it comes to learning a new language fast, and nothing is needed more. italki satisfies this need by connecting learner with tutor in a way that is quick, easy and affordable.
Which Languages Can You Learn with italki?
There’s no other place online, or anywhere in the world, with as many teachers or as many languages being taught as italki.
As of today, the platform provides tutors in more than 130 languages. The main and most popular languages include:
There are more than 1700 tutors alone teaching Spanish on italki, more than 950 teaching French, more than 700 teaching Chinese and almost 300 teaching Korean.
All of these italki tutors can be filtered easily by price, availability, teacher type and a italki’s new instant booking feature, which lets you book a lesson on the spot, ready to start immediately.
The ability to filter through teachers so easily means you can select a tutor that is native to a specific country or within a certain age range.
Each tutor even has a pre-recorded video on their profile which means you can get to know a little about them and hear about their teaching style before committing to learning a language or booking a lesson with them.
How much does italki cost?
italki tutors set the cost of their own lessons, so the cost of a lesson depends entirely on how much you want to spend and the tutor you choose to learn with.
italki encourages pricing competition which means you can find some unbelievably cheap lessons on there if you use the pricing filter. This is positive if you don’t have much money to learn, but also negative because it has been known to lead to exploitation.
As italki’s tutors are located in different parts of the world, some even offer classes for as low as $3 per hour simply because they need the work and custom.
There are also some extremely expensive language professionals on the platform. Often, I am sure higher fees are justified, but sometimes they mean nothing. Remember, an expensive tutor is not necessarily a good tutor!
The pricing range at present varies between $3 and $60 per hour. So, the amount you are going to spend to learn a new language really depends on who you choose to teach you and how frequently you want language classes.
I have used two native tutors on italki, one to learn Italian and one to learn Chinese. I bonded with both of them and we are still in contact today! The cost varied between $14 and $18 per hour.
Where do italki lessons take place?
Lessons take place on the italki classroom platform which is all accessible via the italki website or app.
The italki Classroom platform works really well for video lessons and it has an in-built messaging and screen sharing feature. These tools are super easy to use and enable your tutor to send language resources, chats, vocabulary sheets etc.
There’s nothing stopping you taking your italki classes offline and onto platforms like Zoom or Skype but from my experience there’s no reason to do so.
The italki classroom works just fine and I’ve never had any internet connection issues. My tutor did once, but the platform reconnected us.
Are the tutors on italki good? Finding the Right Tutor for You
You can filter tutors on italki by:
– Teacher Type (Community Teacher and Professional Teacher)
– Languages spoken
– Languages taught
– Further skills
The ability to filter tutors in this way means that, in theory, you’re able to see who is teaching with a certification and who is not. This is a positive feature but you should not be put off by amateur teachers.
The level of teaching is usually really good and teachers that are not officially qualified are obviously much cheaper. Ultimately it depends on how much you want to spend and what your main aims are.
I recommend community teachers for conversational practice, but if you are studying for an exam then it may be worth using italki to find a qualified tutor with exam preparation experience.
You can usually see this in each individual tutor bio. If you are learning for fun then you’re likely to have just as much luck and success with a cheaper, non-qualified teacher.
Find a Tutor on italki using the Tutor Search Feature
The italki search and filter feature is excellent and probably now superior to its competitors. From what I have seen online, most italki reviews agree with this.
All the information you require is displayed on tutor cards so you do not need to leave the page or visit individual tutor pages.
The tutor card displays the number of lessons a tutor has completed (how many lessons a tutor has taught), the tutor schedule (which you can use to match your own availability) the review stars (out of 5 – this is set by other language learners) and the price.
The number of lessons taught feature is useful if you are looking for a tutor with experience on italki, but remember everybody is new once so it is not reflective of a tutor’s quality or experience!
When you do leave the main page to review a teacher profile, here are things to look out for:
- Quality of their video introduction – each tutor has a video which means you can see who they are, what they’re like and how they teach. Use this to determine how your lesson quality will be – if the video is bright with good sound quality, this is a good sign.
- Returning students (here you can see how many students have returned to take more lessons with a tutor. A high number of returning students is always a good sign).
- Response and attendance rates (teachers who respond quickly are likely to be more efficient. The quicker they respond, the more reliable they are likely to be, and the less likely they are to cancel your lesson at short notice).
Some advice: Don’t spend ages finding the right tutor – it’s a waste of time. There are literally thousands of tutors on italki. Just go with your gut and schedule a trial.
My Tutors on italki
As I mentioned earlier, I have used italki to learn Italian and Chinese.
As any italki review will confirm, each tutor is different, as was the case with mine, but there are certain characteristics to look out for in a language tutor. I am going to use my positive experience with italki to say that if you have never had a face to face language lesson online then I recommend finding a tutor with the following characteristics.
- Majority student talk time (You are paying to improve your speaking in the new language, above all else. You should speak more than your tutor.)
- Teaching without a textbook (If you wanted a textbook, you’d buy one! Your tutor should be using interactive resources and online tools to make the class interesting.)
- Majority teaching during the session (It’s easy to shy away from speaking a new language by chatting with the teacher in your main language. Your teacher should discourage this and focus on what you’re paying for!)
The italki Payment Process
Booking a lesson on italki is really simple and takes seconds. The good thing is that you can book a 30 minute trial with any tutor in order to see if you get on with them, you enjoy their teaching style etc.
I recommend taking advantage of this feature. There’s less financial risk with a 30 minute trial.
italki has set up an awesome ‘credit currency’ system for payments. Each credit carries the same value as USD as goes straight into your italki wallet.
So, rather than depositing money straight out of your bank and into italki pockets, you buy lesson credits.
Generally you buy these, but you can also opt to have referrals added as credits too (if you refer a friend to use italki, for example, you gain from it).
I like this feature but just bear in mind you can’t transfer credits back into cash. So, use your credits when you have them if possible and don’t overcommit.
Personally I think the italki credit currency system is a great way to budget for your language learning journey. You can put a fixed amount of money in one space and say ‘this is how much I am investing in learning Spanish’ for example.
A negative about the italki payment system is that you pay more if you are paying for a lesson directly via bank transfer. There is a transaction fee of up to double if you use this method instead of the credits system. Obviously, italki do this because they want you to purchase credits.
Scheduling a Lesson with italki
I’ve mentioned this already but I thought it would be worthwhile explaining exactly how easy it is to schedule a lesson on italki. The whole process is really straightforward.
All you need to do is check a teacher’s availability, which is highlighted in their calendar, and choose a time that works for you. Easy! Teachers then have a window of time to approve or deny your request.
From experience, a tutor has never denied me a lesson.
Credits then leave your italki wallet temporarily but you will not use them until after the lesson has taken place. If the lesson doesn’t happen or you are not happy with the quality of the lesson, italki will give the credits back to you.
What are italki lessons like?
Maybe this is the most important part of this italki review to you. Remember, italki is not responsible for the quality of the lessons on its site. From my experience, italki lessons have been excellent, but this is thanks to the individual teachers, not italki.
italki is simply providing a platform for you, as a language learner, to meet a qualified or community teacher for valuable face to face language lessons.
It’s simple but so effective and so vital in the language learning process. I have had a really impressive experience with my tutors on italki, but I have also had some pretty crappy lessons on similar language learning platforms. I am sure these crappy teachers are on italki too! Luckily, I would say that good teachers are definitely a majority.
One final point on this is to remember that certifications on italki are not checked (and I am not sure they can be). italki teachers are required to fill in their teaching certifications or qualifications when they sign up to become a teacher. Just remember that a teacher may not be a professional just because they say they are.
I am sure in the vast majority of cases they are not lying, but this point is definitely worth bearing in mind!
As a reminder, you can book a 30 minute trial lesson on italki with any teacher in order to see if the teacher’s lesson and teaching style is right for you.
By now you are aware of italki’s features and how it can help you to learn a language fast through face to face interaction with a teacher.
However, italki is more than just a place to learn a language with a tutor. It has many other cool community features that other platforms don’t have.
- Discover – Under the Discover tab in the italki app, there’s a bunch of content created by other members of the italki community including teachers and fellow language learners.
- Topics and Posts – The “For You” section provides a lot of language related posts that are categorized into topics.These posts include general language discussion, conversations on more specific cultural topics and people asking specific questions about language learning. Many of them are language learners looking for language partners to have conversational practice with.These benefits are only available via the italki app, not via the website. I think this is an area for improvement for italki.
italki Language Exchange
In addition to the cool and pretty unique community features, italki language exchange offers language learners on a budget the chance to take part in a language exchange with somebody else completely free of charge.
Given that lessons on italki are pretty cheap anyway, I think you’ll benefit more from booking a cheap class with an actual teacher. That said if you really don’t have money to spend on this then the italki language exchange is a great option.
This feature is not as easy to use as it once was. I’m not sure if this is due to a decline in demand or because italki (naturally) would rather users spent money on their platform.
It’s probably a mix of both. Finding somebody to practice with for free is useful when you’re learning a language but I am not convinced italki is the best place to do this. There are hundreds of Facebook groups for hundreds of different languages where you can find a potential language exchange.
I have not used the italki language exchange feature myself and I do not plan to. I still think the platform is best for actual lessons, so that you can use the italki classroom feature and learn from actual language teachers.
italki vs … its competitors
To save you the reading I am going to summarise these other offerings below.
- Verbling – Very similar to italki and pretty much the same offering. Verbling has its own in-built platform similar to italki classroom where you can connect with tutors. The pricing model is the same, equally as competitive. I have taught Spanish and French on Verbling and used it to learn Italian alongside italki.I don’t mind the Verbling platform but for me the italki classroom feature is better. Having been a tutor, I believe italki also takes a smaller cut than Verbling so italki tutors receive more of the money they are earning.
- Preply – Just like italki and Verbling, Preply is another online educational platform that pairs students with private tutors remotely via online chat.I have not used it to learn a language personally but the user experience for me is nowhere near as good. The italki platform just looks nicer and more thought has gone into making it easy to pair learners with teachers.
- Baselang – Baselang is a different proposition and exclusive to Spanish learning. You pay a fixed rate of $149 per month for unlimited Spanish tutoring. The tutors are all located in Venezuela. You can read our review on Baselang here.
Final Thoughts on italki - Review Summary
italki is the best option out there for learning a foreign language online. With a wide range of tutors to choose from and a long list of languages available, italki a great place to find a language tutor that suits your preferred learning style, budget and schedule.
The italki Community feature could definitely be improved but the emphasis and investment by italki has clearly gone on italki Classroom, which is much more important. After all, that’s what you’re paying for!
italki is a great place to learn how to speak a foreign language but not necessarily focus on reading or writing.
If reading and writing in a foreign language are of higher importance to you then I would recommend using a provider such as Rocket Languages or Fluencia. These courses focus more on reading and do no provide actual tutors.
Whilst italki remains the best place to learn a language online, it will not replace physical human interaction. Use italki and its features to supplement your language learning process but meet native speakers and talk to people in person whenever you can!
I am a firm believer that online language learning will never replace physical human interaction and classroom learning. However, as far as tools go for learning to speak a language online, I don’t believe anything beats italki.