Hello, my name is Angela and I’ve been using italki for about 2 months. I had been thinking for a while that I needed to improve my German (I live in Switzerland) and that I’d like to also learn Italian.
Over the past 6 months I’ve become more interested in language learning in general and whilst browsing online, I kept seeing people mentioning italki.
I discounted it at first as I thought that speaking to strangers online it wasn’t really my style! I had tried to teach myself Italian with various websites and iPad apps, but eventually I realized that these methods were never going to help me actually speak the language.
I thought briefly about going back to a language school, as a couple of years ago I went to night classes to learn German and I did learn a lot, but I was always frustrated by how slowly the class would work through a course book. Even in a small class of 6 people, the opportunities to actually speak are not that great.
So I ended up on the italki website. What really convinced me in the end were the video introductions made by the teachers. It’s a great way to get a feel for their personality and teaching style. I chose an Italian teacher who also spoke English and scheduled a trial session of 30 minutes.
Even though I use Skype a lot to speak with family and friends, right before my trial session, I was ridiculously nervous! But once I started speaking to my teacher – who is fabulous and really made me feel comfortable – I totally forgot about it. It was actually fun!
The trial session is an opportunity to get to know each other and to talk about what you expect from the lessons. At the end of the trial I was absolutely positive that this would be a great alternative to traditional language classes.
To list all the things that are great about italki: it is one-on-one. There is no hiding at the back of the class room letting other people do all the talking. (I used to do this). No, there is just you and the teacher and you need to do half, if not more of the talking! You can learn at your own pace. You can schedule lessons whenever it is convenient for you, like evenings and weekends.
You don’t even need to buy a course book; my teacher emails me the pages that we will work on in our next lesson, as well as sound clips. When I don’t understand something, my teacher can type into the message window. I often copy these messages and keep them in a Word file, so that I can review them later.
After a few Italian lessons, I started to search for a German teacher as well. My German level is intermediate and I found a teacher who is helping me improve my German and attain B2 level. We work from a course book as well as from her own books, articles, etc.
For people who are still unsure whether italki is for them, I would say look through the teacher video introductions and find someone you think you can work with. Schedule one or two trial sessions. You’ve got nothing to lose!
Angela has been a member of italki since August 2015