My name is Sri Lestari. I am an English learner from Indonesia. I have always wanted to study English for quite a long time. A desire to learn has been in me since I was in the 4th grade. English was taught since primary school but often it did not meet my expectations. Therefore, I ended up doing self-study, albeit with limited resources. My fascination with the language led me to take an English literature major. However, during my freshman year I was sort of discouraged and apprehensive after knowing thatmy English remained terrible.
I planned to take an English course outside the class to strengthen the foundation of the language, yet I was skeptical. Not that I don’t trust the local teachers, I just think that the good ones are too pricey. Well, there
were myriad of institutions offering courses that are reasonably-priced, but the tutors do not seem to know English very well. So, instead of paying for a course, I tried to find another way.
It was in 2011 that the idea to meet English speakers popped up in my head. I just thought it would be great to find people to practice with. Besides, I have never met foreigners before and I really wanted to experience the
feeling of conversing with them and getting to know their culture as well. However, a question aroused; how could I find them? I am a suburbanite and it was really hard to find English speakers around here. But thanks to the
aid of internet which makes things possible; enabling people to connect with each other easily through various social networks.
I started to look for conversational exchange and discovered italki. Actually I have tried so many conversational platforms before but was not contented at all. I just felt that they were not the sites I was looking for. Most of the sites I came across were full of people who just wanted flirtatious conversation and not interested in language or cultures. Unlike those sites, italki was so different. The site is really appealing and user-friendly. It was its large community that I was most interested in; people were just amazing and willing to help.
I still vividly remember the first friend I got from italki, who was apparently not a native English speaker but Russian. He spoke English well though, so I just thought we both could help each other to learn English. We shared Skype ID and had long conversation talking about various topics I was not familiar with. I should admit that I was quite overwhelmed since the conversation did not solely focus on language. However, I learned a lot from him. He ignited my passion to learn many things. After talking with him, I became interested in Russia and got lots of Russian friends through italki.
Another aspect I love most from italki is its interface and features. The site is easy to use and provides some features that are extremely useful for the language enthusiast. One of the features is notebook entry, I found
this tool really helpful for those who want to hone their writing skill. Try to write notebook in whatever language you are studying! By the time you post it, all of the members can read it and there are native speakers who voluntarily review your writing. I recall the first time I knew this feature; I was so exaggerated that I even wrote so many notebooks and exceeded the limits. Soon after I posted them, I received some corrections
from a couple of English native speakers and I was really excited. This kind of thing encourages me to write over and over again which is good for my writing progress.
Different from the other language websites, italki does not provide free materials. The site merely focuses on human-based interaction. This is why I stick with italki; learners are not distracted by rigid language materials, rather they set their own way to study with the features italki has provided. If you have budget, you can connect with so many professional teachers or community tutors and they will gladly structure the lesson for you with the most affordable rate. I once checked similar site and it charges 25-30 USD/ hour, whilst in italki you can find so many tutors with 5-15 USD hourly rate. To tell the truth, I came here with no budget but this by no means I can’t learn my target language. I could still do many things on the site, like getting involved in discussion forum, writing notebook entry, asking questions, or just doing language exchange with native speakers. It was free after all.
Italki has been a huge part of my language learning. After three years joining this site, I got lots of benefits. Not only have I improved my English, but I also met so many amazing people. I befriended with some Iranian and palestinian women (Sarah, Elina, Ocean, Arwa) who always write beautifully and motivate me to practice more, uncle kevinzim from UK with whom I often share my interest about Russian, Margarita from Russia who often laughs for no reason at midnight ))). Gerardo from Mexico who always talks about chili and telenovela stars jeje :D. Walter_mellon and Shawn who often help me improve my English and I always admire their views. I even met some friends in person. I met Rafi in 2013, an Indonesian learner who later became a good friend. In 2014 I met Yustitia, it was the first and the last time we met since she decided to move to Bulgaria. I also met Ibrahim, an 18-year-old boy from UK whom I already considered as my grandson. And last but not least, I met my guru while he visited Indonesia. There is so much respect for him, for he has helped and taught me many things. He is guru in life.
With italki, I’ve been able to do distant learning and make friends with people from another part of the world which I never thought it was feasible. Forgot to mention that I am also a community tutor here and I found the site mutually beneficial for my students and me. I can earn income and my students can get tutored with reasonable price. It always brings me the inner satisfaction every time I see my students are learning from me. Now I have been teaching for eight months and I have gained lots of useful experience working with the students who are from Taiwan, UK, USA, Japan, and Russia. I am really thankful that I found italki, it gave me everything beyond my expectations!
Sri Lestari joined italki in 2011 to learn English. As she recounts in her story above, she now teaches Indonesian as a Community Tutor. She’s available and looking for new students.