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italki for learning languages
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Author:  serge_gorodish [ Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:04 pm ]
Post subject:  italki for learning languages

Many of you know I am a foreign-language enthusiast. For about a year now one of my favorite pastimes has been a both effective and enjoyable learning resource, which also brings a touch of Bond to my daily life. This is the Italki website (italki.com).

Italki facilitates connections between students and teachers for on-line language lessons (generally using Skype). It’s a convenient and extremely affordable option (usually around $10/hour) for private lessons in the language of your choice. I have now done almost two hundred such lessons with several teachers, and have found the following points:

• I have yet to encounter a “bad” teacher. I have found teacher quality ranges from good to excellent. In the worst case, I could always write off my $10 and choose someone else next time.

• This is an excellent way to get actual “field training” in a foreign language. I do much study with software, audio recordings, etc., but nothing substitutes for talking with an actual human being. A good teacher really helps you get over the hump from studying books to actual usage.

• Many italki teachers are young people (frequently college students) located in various countries of the world. Owing to exchange rates and life situations, these lessons can work out to be a great deal financially for both you and the teacher.

• No matter your level in the language, you can find a teacher eager to work with you.

• Via italki, I get to spend an hour of any given morning essentially visiting a foreign country, chatting with a lovely, charming, intelligent, and enthusiastic lady—a very Bond feeling.

• A charming teacher also motivates one to keep studying.

• And I make visible progress. In one year, I’ve become quite comfortable conversing in Chinese, for example—even though I still have much to learn.

How does it work? You can go to italki.com, click on “Find a Teacher”, and enter the language you are interested in, Chinese Mandarin, for example. A list of teachers will come up. Click on one that looks interesting and you will see a profile including a picture, statistics on the teacher’s record with italki, and usually a video self-introduction.

On the right-hand side is a “Schedule a Lesson” button you can click if you choose. Each teacher sets his or her own rates. Choose a type of lesson (depending on what the teacher offers), and schedule a time using italki’s easy interface. You will need to set up a profile which includes, for example, your Skype contact.

Italki handles the payment for you, using an escrow system. You buy “credits” at the time the lesson is scheduled (using credit card, Paypal, etc.), but these are transferred to the teacher only when you certify the lesson as completed.

You can also find “language partners” who will for example, swap practice in English for practice in a foreign language, but I have found paid teachers to be more reliable.

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