italki.com is a website I decided to check out after watching this video by Rachel and Jun reviewing the site. Turns out I’d already signed up for the website at the beginning of this year, I’d just completely forgotten about it until recently!
This website allows people to connect with people who speak the language their learning, it’s not just Japanese, but all kinds of languages! You can practice Japanese in a number of ways:
- Hire teachers who will give you lessons!
- Find language partners to type messages to talk to them via skype!
- Post notes and ask questions and other people will correct/answer them for you!
Bellow I review each of these features.
Finding A Teacher Through italki.com
It’s surprisingly easy to get a good teacher through this site. I decided to get one after my JLPT preparation lesson in London got cancelled due to lack of interest and after a few weeks it’s going well!
To find a teacher you can click on the “Professional Lessons” tab and from there search for teachers who teach the language you want to learn, and can specify the search to specific times and days that suit you best. Although note, all lessons are through Skype, so you need a camera and mic to communicate.
Most teachers will let you have a trial lesson with them so you can get to know each other and ask them about how they do lessons. If you don’t like a teacher you don’t have to use them and can find someone else.
You do need to pay for lessons but these aren’t that bad. The site works in
italki credits called ITC, and 100 ICT = $10 dollars (they don’t use ITC anymore, just dollars).
The lessons are not expensive. A one-to-one Japanese lesson in the UK is about £20-£25 ($30-$40) for an hour, through italki they’re between £6-£14 ($9-$21) an hour! Each teacher charges different rates, this could be dues to experience and qualifications. You can do your research easily as teachers will say what they specialise in and people who have had lessons with them leave reviews.
You can also choose to have Informal Tutoring, which still cost money but are incredibly cheap as these are with non-professional teachers.
Have a free day and want a quick lesson? You can also see if you can find an Instant Tutoring, who will be a teacher online with free time and is looking for a student. These are, again, cheaper than booked lessons, although it’s hit-and-miss if you can find a Japanese teacher.
Once you’ve scheduled a lesson the website will keep a notification of your next lesson and once the lesson is complete you can review it and leave notes for the teacher.
It’s important to find someone who you will work best with and who you think you’ll get the most out of.
- Great for people who don’t have Japanese teachers near them.
- Cheap for one-to-one lessons!
- Can have as often as you like.
- Fits around your schedule (even if that means the middle of the night).
- You can have trial lessons and choose not to have that teacher if you don’t like them.
- Can be flexible if you want formal teaching or informal.
- Easy to schedule lessons (times are provided in your time-zone).
- You need skype and a camera with mic.
- All teachers cost money (but not very expensive)
- It’s hit-and-miss if you get a good teacher that will suit you (although you can tell from the reviews and trial lessons.)
Finding a Speaking Partner through italki.com
If you don’t want to pay for lessons you can try and find a speaking partner. This is done by clicking on “Community” and “Language Exchange”. Just like the teachers you can search for people who speak the language you’re learning and who are learning your native language. You can also search based on where they live.
Once you’ve found someone who you’d like to connect with you can check out their profile. From there you can “Follow” them to keep track of what they’re doing, and “Message” them. Messaging them is a good way to begin communication. Some people just type messages to one another, correcting each other’s languages, and some prefer to have skype sessions. You might even find someone who lives in your town who you can meet up with.
- Free if you don’t want to pay for lessons, or just get extra practice.
- Can practice Japanese through typed messages, skype, or in person.
- Great language practice (especially if you have lessons as well).
- Not as certain as teachers.
- Might get contacted by people who don’t speak Japanese and are just after your English.
- Your schedule needs to match theirs.
Create Notes, Ask Questions, Get Corrections
Similar to Lang-8 this feature lets you write notes, questions or start discussions in the language you’re learning. Other users, normally native people, will correct your Japanese and leave responses. People can highlight where you went wrong so you can clearly see where you need to work. This is not only a great way to practice typing Japanese, but also meet new people and get answers on topics you’re interested in.
Vice-versa, you can explore other people’s notebooks, questions and discussions on the “Community” tab. Correcting their English (or what ever your native language is) also allows you to meet people and engage in international conversation. You can even reply in Japanese.
- Another free feature!
- Can practice typing/writing and reading Japanese.
- Can post topics you’re interested in, essays for class, practice translations – anything!
- Not certain you’re going to get responses to your notes/discussions.
- Best to invest time in correcting others and helping them (it is a language exchange).
Final Thoughts and Overall Review (the TL;DR part)
italki.com is a website I regret neglecting before! I’ve had a great time with my Japanese teacher, and new speaking partners. It’s incredibly easy to use and doesn’t send you a billion e-mails, only when you have a session coming up (which is understandable, standing up a teacher is rude and you loose out on money!). The only feature that costs anything is the proffesional lessons, but these are cheap in comparison to one-to-one lessons irl. There’s no advertising and they don’t constantly ask you for money.
It’s a great website for meeting new people and practising Japanese! If you have the time and want a language partner or two it’s worth checking out.
If you decide to sign-up and buy ITC for a teacher please do so through this link as I’ll get $10 of credit if you do! (You don’t have to, I’m just putting it out there): Sign-up to italki.com