Born in the US to Jamaican immigrant parents, I studied Spanish for 8 years, between the ages of 11 and 19. However, I took a break from it, and only resumed my studies 5 years later, at the age of 24, after going on a mission trip with my church to South America.
In order to close the 5 year gap in my Spanish studies (as well as reach “the point” of fluency), I sought a trustworthy community of tutors/language-partners that I could engage with regularly in the fervent desire that I might improve my conversational skills.
Having created an italki account in July 2014, I failed to make use of its services for two months when, in September, I arrived in Barcelona. I contacted a teacher native to the country, and found the first session to be surprisingly comfortable. The professor took the time to assess my level in order to develop the right program for us moving forward.
My reluctances were two fold. Firstly, I feared that online learning would not hold a candle to face-to-face learning. Secondly, I doubted that I would be able to find the time to learn. To the second point, just find a teacher and schedule something! The scheduling holds you accountable to follow through and, within a few sessions, once you’ve built a rapport with a tutor, you will see how easy it is to find a routine time. I went from being skeptical and hesitant to having 4 italki sessions per week within a very short space of time. And they’ve all been well worth it.
My naive skepticism was that I wouldn’t be able to learn through a virtual teaching session as much as I would during a face-to-face tutor session. The reality couldn’t have been further from the truth. I now believe that it’s what you put into the sessions that you get back. There truly is nothing inherently inferior about online learning. Of course, a face-to-face tutor session with you putting in 5% effort will produce less fruit than if you gave 110% over the internet. While there may be the occasional technical difficulty, that’s life – nothing ever goes entirely to plan. For me, the best part is that I get to have conversations at locations that are comfortable to me. In summary, it has been a truly wonderful experience.
Anthony has been a member of italki since July 2014