In order to close the 5 years gap in my Spanish studies (as well as to reach the “point” of Spanish fluency), I sought for a trustworthy community of tutors/language partners that I could engage with regularly in hopes to improve my talking/listening skills.
While I created an italki account in the summer of 2014, I actually didn’t have my first italki teaching experience until September 2015 when I came to Barcelona. I connected with a couple Spanish teachers who also lived in Spain, and the first teaching session was surprisingly very comfortable. The professor took the time to assess my Spanish level in order to develop the right program for us moving forward.
The biggest skepticism I had 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 of it couldn’t have been further from the truth. I now believe that it’s dependent what you put into the sessions that you will receive, because of course a face-to-face tutor session with you putting in 5% will produce less fruit than if you gave 110% over the internet. Sure at times you may experience technical difficulties, but that’s life – overall, it has been an amazing experience. I’ve learned a lot, and the best part is that I get to have conversations at locations that are comfortable to me!
My reluctance was because
1) I was afraid learning online would be subpar to learning face-to-face
2) I didn’t know when I could find the time.
As I said earlier, online tutor sessions are just a tool; the real learning comes from the amount of effort you put in (supplemented with good teachers). Thus, there’s nothing inherently inferior about online tutoring. To the second point, just find a teacher and schedule something! The benefit is that most teachers have restricted schedules, so it’s mutual timing. Plus, the scheduling holds you accountable to follow through. After a few sessions and building a rapport with a tutor, you will see how easy it is to find a routine time. I went from being skeptical to having italki sessions 3-5 times per week, and they’ve been worth it!