I am a retired writer living in the U.S. near Cleveland, Ohio. I became interested in learning Spanish after visiting Central America several years ago. As a first step I worked through a computer program featuring a teacher in recorded video sessions. At its conclusion I had the resources of an advanced beginner, but then my progress came to a halt. I visited instructional websites daily, compiled word lists and flashcards, and went nowhere. It was frustrating, wandering around in a language without direction or feedback.
I discovered italki a few months ago through the website of Olly Richards and immediately scheduled trial lessons with three Latin American tutors. The day of the sessions I was so nervous I wrote a brief biography in Spanish so I could read it verbatim rather than trying to improvise. This marked the first time I had talked to native speakers and I was very self-conscious about my limited vocabulary, frequently retreating to English.
Two of the tutors quickly put me at ease and impressed me with their friendliness and enthusiasm so I decided to schedule weekly lessons with both. One lives in Bogota, Colombia, and her passion for teaching and learning is really infectious. She assigns online exercises for each session, concentrating on areas where I need improvement. In addition, we research and discuss current topics in the news. This week, for example, we talked about the Zika virus and how Colombia and the U.S. are responding to the problem. So in addition to speaking Spanish, we’re sharing insight into each other’s lives and cultures.
My second instructor is also brilliant and resourceful. Along with assigning challenging online homework for our classes, he has encouraged me to begin writing a novel in Spanish which I have set in his hometown of San José, Costa Rica. I post it on Google docs, and as I read aloud he monitors my pronunciation and grammar, correcting faulty verb conjugations, vocab, and idiomatic expressions which make sense in English but not “en Español.”
Thanks to italki, I am moving forward on the beautiful Spanish language and having fun along the way. As time passes the Skype sessions feel more and more like exchanges between friends, and I’m now increasing the length of my lessons with both tutors. The cost is minimal, so why not? Along with that, I’m thinking about finding language partners to hook up with for casual conversations in Spanish and English.
I strongly recommend italki to anyone interested in acquiring a new language. Skype provides an excellent platform for one-on-one communication. I have even downloaded a free MP3 audio recorder that lets me replay the sessions after they’re over. And the number of italki tutors is amazing. All you have to do is put anxiety aside and dive in. Soon you’ll be learning by interacting with new friends in other countries. This is the best way to go.
Stuart has been a member of italki since December 2015