A new way to homeschool

This post originally appeared on Bible Based Homeschooling {on a budget!} a personal blog site about Homeschooling by Karen DeBeus.  Reposted with her permission.


Learning a foregin language? I am excited to tell you about a new option available to homeschoolers!

What is italki?

When I first heard of italki I will admit, I was a bit skeptical for the purposes in our homeschool. I even almost backed out of doing this post, because I wasn’t sure. Boy, am I glad that we stuck with it. We had an amazing experience with italki and my daughter is begging for more! italki is definitely a safe place for online homeschool language lessons!

italki is a an online community where you can learn a language from an online language teacher, or practice a language with native speakers from that country. All lessons are done via Skype with a professional teacher of your choosing. There are many teachers and languages to choose from. You can also choose to have a an online language tutor. 

We chose Spanish, because we are currently using Rosetta Stone to study Spanish Level 1 in our homeschool.  After signing up, we were sent a list of recommended teachers for our needs. We contacted the teacher and scheduled our first lesson. It was incredibly easy to get started and to find a teacher.

Our experience with our online language teacher

My daughter (12) and son (10) were present for the first lesson. I sat with them and told the teacher our needs. Cynthia, our teacher asked what our previous experience was and what we wanted out of these lessons. My children are still learning basic Spanish, so she went over the basics with them.

What struck me most was how interactive it was. Since Cynthia knew she was working with children, she tailored it so nicely for them. She said she didn’t want them to be bored! So she had us get a ball and the children would toss it back and forth while reciting the numbers, days of week, etc. I thought that was wonderful!

What I also loved about Cynthia was how she really catered to both children’s needs. My son is extremely shy and felt uncomfortable talking through the computer to her, so she told him to write down his answers when she asked him a question, and then my daughter read them to her. I thought that was so creative of her- this way they could both participate!

My daughter isn’t shy at all, and in fact preferred this method to Rosetta Stone. She loved that she had feedback immediately from the teacher, especially with help in pronunciation. She really enjoyed the first lesson.

For our next lesson, I just had my daughter participate. Once again, Cynthia was so dynamic. She had my daughter write various verbs down on cards and as she spoke the verbs, my daughter was to walk over to each card on the table and actually act out the verb. For example, for “run” she would go over and run in place. Things got really fun when Cynthia added in descriptive words such as “run quickly” or “slowly.” My daughter loved this game.

Again, having the immediate feedback form Cynthia was what my daughter loved most.Rather than talking into the computer with Rosetta Stone,  she was conversing with a real, live person. I enjoyed the fact that Cynthia was so dynamic, gentle, and attentive.

I loved the fact that the lessons were very timely as well. We signed onto Skype a few minutes before our scheduled lesson, and at the exact moment it was supposed to begin, Cynthia would sign on to start. We would also end precisely at the end time.

I was also impressed that she was able to interact by sending over some worksheets to help, so that could be up on the screen to help as they were interacting. She gave my daughter various exercises to conjugate verbs, and they also worked on pronunciation. I was pleased when Cynthia asked about my son. I told her he wasn’t going to participate, but she said she wanted to make sure I knew she didn’t forget about him. :) She was really a great teacher for kids!

Is italki suitable for homeschoolers?

Yes! italki is definitely a viable option of learning a foreign language. It also can be extremely helpful to use for tutoring. If you are already using a program you love, itlaki can help by supplementing. Giving you a real live person to practice with, converse with, and ask questions to is definitely helpful. I can see using this as tutoring along with your current language program or you can purchase professional lessons from a teacher.

What languages does italki offer to homeschoolers?

There are many languages available- some of which are:

  • Spanish

  • Portugese

  • French

  • Arabic

  • Hebrew

  • Japanese

  • Chinese

  • Italian