Kylie enjoys learning Chinese from teachers all across China. She has been an italki member since October 2014.
I love learning about other cultures and making friends from other countries. I think learning other languages is one of the best ways we can break down barriers between people. I find that learning another language adds so much richness and excitement to my life, stimulates my brain, and makes possible so many wonderful experiences.
What is the role of online speaking lessons in your language learning process?
For me online speaking lessons are the most important and most enjoyable part of the learning process. I have been studying Chinese for two years, but I only starting using italki three months ago. In three months I have made far more progress than I ever have before. It has made learning so much fun for me. I used to fall asleep over a textbook every night. Now I am speaking to people from all over China, writing short essays, and learning Chinese songs. Studying has become something I look forward to.
What advice would you give to people who want to learn a new language?
Start with italki right away, even if you don’t know how to say anything in your target language at all. Don’t worry about feeling shy, or how you will look on Skype. You will very quickly get used to skype, and stop feeling shy. Once you find a teacher you like, that teacher will help you to find other teaching materials, and will guide your progress. I recommend trying lots of teachers–read other student’s reviews and go for teachers who have repeat students. I have found it doesn’t make a difference whether a teacher is a professional or a community tutor. Some of my best teachers are community tutors. After a while, you will find that there are certain teachers you just really click with and enjoy talking to. If you are a beginner, make sure to select a teacher who has a high level of English. I also recommend spending time before each lesson to think about what you might ask your teacher and what you want to learn. I also recommend recording your sessions on Skype (you can get an app for Skype to record lessons) and listening to them afterwards. Review all of the words and phrases you learned. I use an app for that purpose. Starting out with 30 minute lessons is a good way to get started with italki lessons.
What is the biggest benefit you get from italki?
There are so many benefits. Three months of lessons with italki has given me so much confidence in my ability to speak, and has improved my pronunciation so much. Online lessons make it possible for me to have so many more lessons in a week, as I can schedule lessons for early mornings or evenings, and not have to go anywhere for the lesson. Online lessons have kept me interested and motivated, and have given a structure to my language learning. I have also learned so much from talking to so many different people, from so many different cities in China and elsewhere. I love learning about different people’s lives, jobs and cities. I benefit so much from being able to learn from different teachers–everyone has a different approach and that makes it so much more fun.
Please share a story about something that happened for you because of italki:
Because of italki, I now have the confidence to walk up to people who are speaking Chinese, and start speaking to them. I’m a librarian and recently I hosted a meet and greet event for immigrant families at my library. At the event I was able to talk to several people in Chinese. Everyone understood me, and I understood almost everyone. I had a long conversation with a woman who just moved to America from Shanxi, China and speaks no English. She was so happy to meet me, she gave me a hug. It was so exciting for me, to really be able to communicate and to make connections with people in my community. I am now planning to visit China next summer.