My First iTalki Lesson
A while back, I made a post about my personal language learning goals. I mentioned that my languages of interest were Korean, Thai, and Brazilian Portuguese. Well, I have started re-learning Korean (I had experience with it before moving to South Korea) and I have finally gotten a start on Thai.
I really had to build up some courage to book my first trial lesson on iTalki. Why? Because, stranger danger! Lol. There are some crazy and dangerous people on the internet. There are also people who call themselves teachers but they might not actually be good teachers. I’ve also heard good and bad things about iTalki over the past two years. I don’t know about you, but for me, even if I read one or two bad reviews out of many, I remain skeptical and put off purchasing whatever I’m researching.
Anyway! I finally took the plunge and here is my experience as well as a brief iTalki review.
Starting off with iTalki, you get three trial lessons which are 30-minute lessons at a significantly cheaper price point. The exact price depends on your teacher and the language being spoken. Teachers set their own prices. I have seen lessons for some languages at $9 an hour while I’ve seen other teachers set their price at $25 an hour and up.
iTalki has professional teachers and community tutors. Community tutors are people who are not certified teachers but still teach the language. The professional teachers are teachers that actually have licenses and certifications and they have to submit these things in order to be branded as a professional teacher on iTalki. You can refine your search for an iTalki teacher by choosing to look for only professional teachers or only community tutors. But I will say this, just because someone is a professional teacher, doesn’t mean they are a good teacher. There are some community tutors that are just as good as professional teachers.
My Lesson Experience
My language of choice for iTalki is Thai. For Thai language, there are significantly less teachers available in comparison to languages like English, Korean, Spanish, French, etc. I scrolled through ALL of the Thai teachers in order to check their teacher profiles, watch their introduction videos, read the reviews left for them, etc. I settled on a young Thai teacher here in the states which was perfect because there won’t be a huge time difference concern. My teacher was enthusiastic, positive, encouraging, and really made me feel comfortable as I bumbled my way through pronouncing Thai words.
With iTalki, you can pick your platform of choice for your video lessons. The teacher themself will list platforms they have available to use and you can choose from that list the platforms you also would like to use. I’ve seen Skype, Google Hangouts, Google Classroom, FaceTime, and others. My lesson was on Google Hangouts and after the initial login process, the lesson went smoothly.
Since it was a trial lesson, the lesson was only 30 minutes long. My teacher presented a basic lesson that was easy to grasp but still had a lot of information. I came away from the lesson with more vocabulary than I went in with. In 30 minutes, I learned everything that is usually in the first chapter of a language book: different ways to say hello, self introductions, telling where I am from and what I do for a job, asking people’s names, and asking where others are from. And while we did not go into Thai numbers, I learned how to say my age. My teacher literally covered so much in 30 minutes yet I wasn’t overwhelmed.
Some teachers choose to present their own material. Some other teachers teach from actual textbooks. And others teach whatever it is you want to learn, you just have to discuss this beforehand. My teacher creates his own material and his powerpoint was easy to follow and easy on the eyes. It wasn’t bogged down with a bunch of text nor was it only pictures.
I will 100% be booking another lesson with the teacher that I found. It was a great experience for me.
Purchasing A Lesson
To purchase a lesson on iTalki, you do not just buy it like you would buy anything online with your credit or debit card. With iTalki, you have to purchase what are called “iTalki credits”. You have to by a minimum of $10 worth of credits. There is no processing fee on iTalki’s end but depending on your bank, there can be a processing fee from them. I chose to purchase the minimum of $10 and my processing fee was only 69 cents. You can choose to buy in bulk to try and cut down on processing fees from your bank. But since this was just a trial lesson for me, I didn’t do that.
One thing I don’t like about that whole “iTalki credits” thing is that once you purchase credits, there are no refunds. Once the credits are purchased and in your iTalki account, you can not get a refund. So if you purchase in bulk but then never use the credits, the money will just sit there. The only positive about this is that the credits never expire as long as you keep your account active.
If you have a bad lesson with a teacher and need to dispute a payment, you can get your credits back for that lesson. But they go into your iTalki account as credits and not back to your bank card or whatever you used to purchase the credits.
My purchasing process was easy and smooth; I had no issues. But I will probably stick to only buying the minimum or a little above the minimum of credits. I do not want to fall into a situation where I stop taking lessons yet I have all this money sitting in my iTalki account that I can’t get back.
Overall, I enjoyed my first experience on iTalki. I plan to book more lessons with the teacher that I found and I appreciate just how easy the website is to navigate. I did not have to reach out to customer service for any issues and I’m happy for that. If you want to try iTalki, give it a shot! There are many languages to choose from and it’s easy to find a teacher within your budget.