By James Coulson | Read time 15min | Visit Italki | Get $10 italki credit
An Honest italki Review – Perfect if Your Focus is Speaking
This italki review provides a comprehensive overview of the italki platform and its main features.
italki is a superb resource for anybody who wants to practice their speaking and pronunciation online with native tutors. It is not without its flaws, but its easy booking, payment and scheduling system make it the best in the market.
👍 Affordable Lesson Prices
👍 Flexible Scheduling & Payment System
👍 Great in-built online classroom
👍 Thousands of Tutors on the Platform
👎 Tutor Quality Can Vary
👎 Some Features only Available through App
👎 You May Need to Trial Several Tutors
👎 Steady Internet Connection Required
This italki review is quite extensive. I discuss how much italki costs, the italki classroom feature, the italki app, the languages you can learn with italki and much more.
Please feel free to use the menu below to find the part most relevant to you.
Table of Contents
- How I Did This Review
- What is italki?
- Why Choose italki?
- Which Languages Can You Learn with italki?
- How Much Does italki Cost?
- Where Do italki Lessons Take Place?
- The italki Tutor Search Feature
- My Tutors on italki
- The italki Payment Process
- Scheduling a Lesson with italki
- What are italki Lessons Like?
- The italki Community
- italki Language Exchange
- Final Thoughts on italki – Review Summary
- Alternatives to italki – its Competitors
How I did this italki review
I have been using italki as student for the last 10 weeks to help me with German and Japanese; my aim is to reach intermediate level in both of these languages. I am also a teacher on italki, providing lessons in English, Spanish and French.
In this review, I explain the features of the app on mobile and desktop, what I think makes italki such a great online resource and what I think should be improved. Essentially, I take you through my experience of italki as a student.
What is italki?
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.
It is 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 class pricing. Thus, teachers set their own prices and availability – you just select the tutor that matches your budget range and schedule.
Why choose italki?
There is a clear and obvious reason that most italki reviews online are so positive. italki provides what so many online language resources cannot…
Today, the world is full of genuinely excellent language learning resources that set out to help learners memorize 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. Arguably, nothing is needed more. italki satisfies this need by connecting learners with tutors in a way that is quick, easy and affordable for language learners, no matter the budget or language.
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 1,700 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.
This particular feature means italki stands out amongst its main competitors, Preply.
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?
One of the reasons this italki review is so in favour of the app is that 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.
At the time of writing, the pricing range on italki varies between $4 and $80 per hour, as you will see below.
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 spend. However, it does lead me to question how many tutors can afford to teach for $3 per hour.
As italki’s tutors are located in different parts of the world, some do offer classes for as low as this. I can only assume this is simply because they need the work and custom. In addition to costing, you can see how many lessons each tutor has completed at that price.
Not all tutors are cheap on italki, though. There are also some extremely expensive language professionals on the platform.
Often, I am sure higher fees are justified, but sometimes they mean nothing. From my experience learning languages online, an expensive tutor is not always a good tutor!
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.
As a student, I use two tutors on italki regularly, one to learn German and one to learn Japanese. Both of these tutors are native speakers. I pay between $12 and $18 per lesson.
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 by Community Teacher and Professional Teacher 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. Some of the best online teaching I have received as a student has been by ‘amateur’ part-time online language tutors.
Teachers that are not officially qualified are obviously much cheaper but, from my experience, the quality of Community Teachers on italki has been of a high level.
Ultimately, the tutor you choose should depend 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
Any italki review will show that the 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:
The Quality of the video introduction – Each tutor has a video in which they introduce themselves. This way, you can see who they are, what they’re like and how they teach. It’s a good idea to use this to determine how your lesson quality may 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. Also, the less likely they are to cancel your lesson at short notice.
Some advice: Don’t spend ages reading reviews online or scrolling on italki to find the right tutor. There are literally thousands of tutors on the platform. Just go with your instinct based on tutor videos and schedule a trial.
My Tutors on italki
As I mentioned earlier in this italki review, I am using the platform to learn German and Japanese. Of course, I cannot give feedback on every tutor on italki. Each tutor is different, as is the case with mine.
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. Ideally, 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. The italki Classroom feature makes this very easy.
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. The great thing about italki, compared to competitors, is that they give you 3 trial lessons so that you can find the right tutor for you.
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 does 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 (see image above) 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 after listing themselves as available.
Once you have booked, credits leave your italki wallet temporarily but you will not use them until after the lesson has taken place.
Also, 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?
Perhaps the most important part of this italki review. From my experience, italki lessons have been excellent, but this is thanks to the individual teachers, not italki.
Remember, italki is not responsible for the quality of the lessons on its site. It 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.
This italki review has focused on the platform’s main features and how they can help you to learn a language fast.
However, italki is more than just a place to learn a language with a tutor. It has many other pretty unique community features that other platforms don’t have.
Discover –Under the Discover tab in the italki app, there’s a lot 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 used only to be available via the italki app, not via the website. They are now available on the website too, which I think makes sense, given that 90% of italki users are on desktop!
italki Language Exchange
It would not be right to finish this italki review without mentioning italki language exchange. This 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. However, if you really don’t have money to spend, 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.
Well, 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. As well as this, posting on Facebook Language Groups is also a great way to find out about less well known online language resources.
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.
Final Thoughts on italki – Review Summary
I hope this italki review has been useful to you. As you’ll see, I believe italki is one of, if not 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, it is 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.
However, 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.
Italki Vs other language alternatives
Italki vs Preply
Preply is a marketplace where students from all over the world can find one-on-one online tutors for personalized learning programs.
It is very similar to italki, with the same common goals and the same main features. Preply also contains an in-built classroom which enhances the quality and efficiency of lessons for both tutors and students.
Italki vs Pimsleur
With its trialled and tested method, Pimsleur is one of the most effective and slickest language learning resources of its type.
It’s a great way to learn a language by yourself, placing a strong emphasis on aural and pronunciation skills, with less detail around grammar, reading or writing than many other language courses.
Whilst you will not have face to face interaction with a tutor like italki, the Pimsleur app and desktop versions are smart, user-friendly and packed with a variety of content that balances vocabulary, daily scenarios and culture in a way that is digestible even for complete beginners.
Pimsleur offers all users a Free 7 Day Trial.
Italki vs Babbel
Babbel is a subscription based language learning app that to help you learn a new language. It currently offers 14 languages on its unique, user friendly platform. You can use Babbel on desktop and mobile.
Babbel’s desktop and app format is curriculum-based with pre-recorded content including games, quizzes, tests, games and grammar exercises.
It is a great resource if you are looking to learn a language on your own. Babbel’s latest feature, Babbel Live, enables you to connect with tutors without leaving the platform.
Read our Babbel Review.