Italki Review 2023 // What’s Italki & Can It Lead Me To Fluency?

Is It Worth My Time? Our Comprehensive and Honest italki Review

italki Review: 7.5/10
The platform we’ve all been looking for! This platform connects teachers with pupils, but your experience really depends on how good your teacher is – which can be hit and miss. Nevertheless, loads of potential and their new community feature really sets it apart from the rest!

italki review updated for 2023.

One of the big names in the world of language learning these days is italki. For that reason alone, we felt it was the right time to bring you a complete, comprehensive, and honest italki review!

If you haven’t heard of italki, first and foremost, where have you been?!

Italki is arguably one of the biggest names around, providing language teachers and tutors in almost as many languages as you can imagine.

A platform that allows language learners to find native speakers and teachers, italki brings language enthusiasts together from around the world. It is a great way to get speaking in your target language.

For all its excellence there are some drawbacks and things to be aware of, and it’s these things which we want to make you aware of in this honest, down-to-earth italki review!

italki Review // Overview; Pros & Cons

italki Review // Introduction (+ Key Stats)

italki Review // What is Italki?

italki Review // How Does Italki Work?

italki Review // italki Languages

italki Review // The Lessons

italki Review // Weaknesses

italki Review // Other Useful Things To Know

italki Review // Safety & Security

italki Review // Should I Use It?

italki Review // Alternatives/Competitors

italki Review // What’s New For 2023?

italki Review // FAQs

Rather watch our video review? Check it out

italki Review // Overview; Pros & Cons

ITALKI PROSITALKI CONS
1. An incredible 150+ languages available to choose from. 1. No group classes, only 1-1 classes available which can be both expensive as well as not as beneficial as group classes (especially for beginner learners).
2. Great flexibility and wide selection of teachers to give you a choice in language, availability, and even personality in your teachers. 2. No genuine curriculum and unknown teacher quality so it’s tricky to make sure you’re finding the right teacher for you.
3. Reviews from users allow for good quality control. 3. Unnecessary processing fees are a big letdown.
italki Pros & Cons

BOTTOM LINE: Italki is a great tool for more advanced learners but its lack of structure, quality teaching, and group classes aren’t well-suited for beginners and can hinder learning.

It’s important to understand that italki itself is not a language learning tool. It won’t teach you anything and it does not provide any learning resources.

What it does provide is a platform. It facilitates language learning from those who need it (the students) to those who offer it (the teachers). In this way, it provides a convenient and safe platform for the two to meet.

It is in this way that italki facilitates language learning.

On italki, you can find the teachers who will help you learn.

They also offer a community page that allows you to connect with teachers and other students. On this community page, teachers and students offer resources that help you learn a language, too.

So in this way, you have two areas to learn on italki. The lessons with teachers, and in the community page (we talk about both separately in more detail below).

Nevertheless, italki’s teaching feature is its main one by far.

italki Review // Introduction (+ Key Stats)

italki Key Stats

Nameitalki
Description“Discover a world of languages with italki. Learn over 150 languages including English, Spanish, French, Chinese, etc. with professional online tutors.” (italki)
Websitehttps://www.italki.com/
No. of Languages Offered150+
PriceVaries from class to class. Prices start from around 10$ p/h
italki Key Stats

italki Since 2007

Despite its rapid growth in recent years, italki actually goes all the way back to 2007.

italki review - logo

italki was founded by Kevin Chen and Yongyue Jiang who foresaw italki as an online language exchange community.

“In 2009, the site launched its teacher marketplace, allowing teachers to earn money by providing online tutoring services. Teachers on italki set their own price and time schedule.”

Source – Wikipedia

The italki headquarters are based in Shanghai and their growth in recent years has been astronomical.

This was indeed heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic which of course saw many winners and losers worldwide… italki came off as a big winner since it’s run entirely online.

Free Hours - Flexi Classes

italki Review // What is Italki?

The concept behind italki is simple.

You have two entities:

  • Teachers / Tutors
  • Students

The student selects their target language of choice and browses through the list of available teachers and tutors.

Students can then select the best match for them based on a number of factors which include the teacher’s profile, price and dialect.

Teachers and tutors have the chance to essentially sell themselves with a short introductory video and by offering trial classes for a cheaper price which last 30 minutes.

This gives both parties the chance to see if the fit is a good one.

Having used italki myself to learn Italian, let’s see the steps I’d take after signing up.

Discover LTL Flexi Classes – Another great way to learn languages online

Italki Review // How Does Italki Work?

Selecting A Teacher or Tutor

It’s simple to find teachers on italki – but not so simple to select the right one.

We’ll cover our process below. But firstly, an introduction to selecting your teacher.

Firstly, you have to select your language.

Then, you have to select between a teacher and a ‘community tutor‘. The difference here is that one is a qualified teacher, the other is just a member of the community teaching online with no actual qualifications. Both have theirs ups and downsides, which we cover below.

Next, you should select your teacher from their profile in comparison to others. There are various factors you will want to consider. Again, we go over this below.

Once you’ve considered all the above factors, you should be able to find your teacher!

This process can be long and complicated, though. So let’s go over the mistakes we made below… so you don’t have to!

Selecting a Teacher (Our Journey & Tips)

After selecting Italian as my target language I will see a long list of teachers something like this:

Pick your favourite teacher or tutor

You can see there are 839 teachers and tutors to select in total. Of course, a large pool!

You can filter this down also using the set filters at the top of the screen… using criteria like price, native language etc.

How do you go about picking the right one for you?

  • Price – probably the most important factor for many.
  • Reviews – equally important for sure.
  • Experience – although generally the more experience the more costly.
  • Dialect – this should not be overlooked. In some countries accent and dialect can be major factors. I discovered this in Italian! Be aware of the dialect or accent you want to follow before selecting.
  • Intro video – of course it’s hard to gauge in just two minutes but pick someone you feel you’d work together well with. Maybe their teaching methods appeal, maybe they are simply more smiley. Whatever works for you.

Let’s say in this instance I want to look at Alessandro further given the fact he is slightly cheaper than Laura…

italki teacher profile

OK, so we can see a number of things here.

Firstly we have the big intro video which we can watch. Maybe we want to see if he speaks much English, or the level of his English – if these are important to you.

We can also see his reviews – so far so good it seems. But he’s only taught 32 lessons, which is quite small compared to Laura’s 1,000+.

Touching back on dialects again, let me give you my back story briefly.

Accents can vary a lot throughout Italy

I am studying Italian as my wife is Italian.

Unbeknownst to me before meeting my wife… Italian varies A LOT depending on the region.

Due to this, I was very keen to study with someone who is from the province of Lombardia (Lombardy), as that’s where my wife is from.

Lombardia is in the north of Italy and its most famous city is Milan.

Alessandro ticks this box although it does say he is from the south of Italy.

In this instance, I’d probably want to check with my wife about his accent before committing. But this gives you an idea of what you could and should be looking out for when selecting a match on italki.

The same would be true of many other languages and Mandarin is a great example. China is BIG, we all know that… and the accents can vary a lot in China!

On the screenshot, you can also see the teachers’ calendar. This shows their availability over a seven-day period.

Let’s delve more into the teacher profile anyway…

There are a few nice graphs scattered in here to add some colour but also value!

Alessandro has top marks for attendance and response which is always great to see and for those of you who don’t read Italian, Ricardo, Basma and Jackson have very positive opinions of him also!

The advice here is to make sure you do your research, but also just dip your toes in. Don’t try and pick out too many flaws. You don’t truly know until you try a teacher out.

I tried a number of teachers before sticking with two and then even cutting it down to just my favourite (shoutout to Teacher Sara)!

italki Review // italki Languages

What are the languages you can study on italki?

italki claims you can learn over 150 languages. We’re not going to list them all here, and those languages include various dialects and language subsets. Of course, the more popular the language, the better the choice you’ll have.

Less common languages have much less choice in terms of teachers.

Its popular languages include;

  • English
  • Japanese
  • Spanish
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • Italian
  • German
  • Portuguese
  • Arabic
  • Hindi
  • Russian

For these languages, you’ll find the most extensive choice and hundreds of teachers. But you can almost definitely find the language you want to learn here!

Italki Review // The Lessons

The cool thing about italki is the lessons can be whatever you want them to be.

Whilst that does seem quite nice, I must admit I find this a negative and is something I have since discovered.

With italki teachers, they tend to ask you what you want to study and I would just say I want to improve my speaking.

I made a mistake here.

Indeed, I should be giving the teacher more to go by here but my idea was I just wanted to get my mouth moving in Italian.

Whilst I no doubt made progress during this time, I found I never really got to grips with the grammar and I kept making the same mistakes.

My advice here would be to have a clear idea what you want to study and give your teacher as much detail as possible – I never did this and I think I hampered myself in doing so.

If you want to study Mandarin online – these are the teachers you need to be learning with!

On the contrary, after having a little break from italki, I moved to an online Italian school (Scuola Parola for anyone interested) and felt my progress significantly increased here.

Normally I’d much prefer individual classes over groups – the focus is on you and you can really push forward faster. However, in my case, I needed to nail down the basics – past tense, pronouns, infinitives and all that headache stuff!

This worked really well in a group and Scuola Parola provided it at a super cheap price.

My wife even confirmed this for me… “your Italian has improved so much more since joining that school”. Thanks Teacher Gaia!

Jackpot!

Now of course this isn’t me saying pick a school over italki… it’s more just understanding where you are at in your language journey.

For me I’d probably sum it up by saying if you are a beginner, it’s best to get into a small group class and nail down the basics. When you get beyond this and to more intermediate and advanced levels, get yourself a private tutor like on italki.

Italki Review // Weaknesses

For me, there are four key weaknesses of italki. These are:

  1. Lack of group classes
  2. Lack of a genuine curriculum
  3. Unknown teacher quality
  4. Stupid processing fees

Interestingly enough, all these are quite easily solvable. Or if you’re reading this italki… take note!

1. Lack of Group Classes

I mentioned why this was important to me above and how it impacted my progress with Italian.

That is nothing against my italki teacher Sara who was super… but I needed a curriculum and I needed to study with others.

I needed to see it wasn’t just me struggling, I needed to hear other foreigners speak, I needed guidance.

Group classes offer that. In an individual class, I was too overwhelmed. I wanted to speak, but my level was so basic it was counter-productive.

GO FOR GROUPS at the start of learning a new language.

Where? If you want to study languages like Japanese, Korean, Mandarin or Vietnamese then Flexi Classes is the way to go without any doubt!

For Italian, as mentioned above, Scuola Parola gave me a great experience and I’ll be back with them soon to push further forward!

Flexi Classes do something else that italki does not… and that’s our next point.

2. Lack of Curriculum

I never quite realised how important this was before.

Guidance, when you are a beginner, is so key.

It’s all good and well me saying “I just want to speak” when languages have so many elements.

Flexi Classes Reviews

I think I was drawn in by my previous experience with Mandarin.

I did a lot of talking and less classroom practice for Mandarin but I still had lessons to nail down the grammar, the characters and the radicals in an intensive two-week program.

I didn’t do this with Italian and it showed.

You need a structure and you need a curriculum when studying a language.

You can of course set this up with an italki tutor. But whereas some will have their own curriculums, others will not. These curriculums can also vary in quality and style. You need something proven.

It can take a lot of time and money until you find the right path on italki… not the case using a platform like Flexi Classes.

3. Unknown Teacher Quality

Anyone can teach on italki… anyone from a fully qualified, expert teacher to, well, me!

That means italki can be somewhat of a lottery.

italki tries to differentiate between the likes of a teacher and me by referring to people as teachers or community tutors.

Taiwan Teachers Online
  • Teacher = a genuine, professional teacher.
  • Community Tutor = essentially you and I, everyday people who are happy to be a language partner.

Now of course with this teachers become more expensive, so if money isn’t a question for you… go higher and go for the best if you are serious about learning a language.

If you are more casual or just want general chit-chat… go with a community tutor.

The fact with either though is the quality is unknown. You have no idea except for those reviews.

Reviews of course help massively, but everyone is different and ultimately you don’t know until you try yourself.

It can take some time finding the right teacher… with Flexi Classes, every single teacher is a professional, with a degree, and qualified to teach.

Problem solved.

4. Annoying Fees

Yes, it’s how apps like italki make their money but how annoying is it to get to the checkout to see you have to pay more than what is shown.

The processing fee varies depending on how much you spend and the method of payment.

Italki doesn’t mention these fees until the checkout, of course. And why would they?

Well to be transparent for a start.

Even a little note/pop-up on a page just to say “We are run by people like you and therefore these fees help keep us provide you with the best team and the best service”.

This makes me feel more inclined to pay. It’s honest, it’s nice to see they aren’t shirking the issue.

It is what it is, but for me, it’s a weakness.

Once again, Flexi Classes is different. NEVER do you pay extra fees to book a class. You subscribe, and that’s it.

Italki Review // Other Useful Things To Know

italki lessons are taken on either Skype, another third-party program, or the italki teaching platform.

You can choose your preference when booking.

Both work equally fine in my experience. I’ve rarely had issues with either which is great.

Italki also has an app you can download. Although I never did myself, opting instead to stay on desktop and a bigger screen.

italki Review // Safety & Security

italki offers a safe platform for teachers and students to connect. It’s safer than trying to find native speakers on chatrooms or on groups on social media since the teachers here all have ratings and reviews.

Despite the fact that anyone can become a teacher on italki, the peer reviews really help to 1. make sure of the quality, and 2. ensure online safety.

Of course, with any platform that allows *anyone* to “be a teacher” there will always be safety concerns so you should remain diligent when online. Nevertheless, finding teachers through italki and noting reviews before starting lessons is a surefire way to stay secure online.

One step further and you could use the italki platform to have your lesson and this means italki can also view your lesson, too.

Italki Review // Should I Use It?

Italki is a great tool and despite the list of weaknesses posted above it’s a fantastic way to get speaking and studying a new language, whilst also meeting people who can become genuine friends.

There is a huge community of teachers and students from all over the world – with pretty much any language listed there.

Whether you want to study Portuguese or Polish, Afrikaans or Armenian – you’ve got a teacher there!

The key with italki is using it correctly.

Learn from my mistakes, but most of all, go and enjoy it.

Once you find the right teacher, you can really make progress… but don’t dismiss those online language schools.

They are called schools for a reason and in my experience, my Italian shot up by using the latter, not italki.

italki Review // Alternatives/Competitors

Below are some of the competitors doing similar things to italki. But every one has their own unique points…

Verbling

A platform very similar to italki, there are fewer languages here (only 70..!) and have thousands of verified tutors with previous teaching experience.

Chatterbug

Access their streams for free or pay for the lessons! The streams feature on Chatterbug is pretty cool as you can “watch engaging and interactive live and pre-recorded videos”.

Preply

Preply feels like a company that kind of just wanted to get a bit of the action. An entrepreneur that saw the profit-making ability in these teacher-student platforms. The website feels a bit lifeless and I don’t feel like it was made by someone passionate about languages. Nevertheless, they have tens of thousands of language tutors in over 120 languages.

Baselang

Baselang offers a monthly subscription (for a hefty fee!) for unlimited classes. This is probably a really good idea if you have tons of time and a really good tutor.

Pimsleur

Pimsleur operates on what they coin the ‘Pimsleur’ method which incorporated various teaching methods to help you learn a language in the most effective way possible, so they claim!

LTL Language School

How could we leave ourselves out here…! Of course we think our product is great. And we’ve got the reviews to prove it, too! LTL is a cross between italki and your traditional language classroom. You can find teachers online and take curriculum-based lessons in groups or privately according to your needs. You can also take lessons in person in a lot of our locations, too!

BOOK A FREE TRIAL TODAY

italki Review // What’s New For 2023

Community Feature

The community feature which used to be available only via the app is now available on desktop, too.

You can filter by language, and also the type of content you want to see. It’s divided into sections; ‘For You’, ‘Podcasts’, ‘Exercises’, and ‘Questions’.

Italki Review // FAQs

When was italki founded?

italki was founded in 2007 by Kevin Chen and Yongyue Jiang who foresaw italki as an online language exchange community.

Can I take part in group classes on italki?

No, italki is only a 1-to-1 platform for a student and a teacher.

Does italki charge a processing fee?

Yes unfortunately there is a fee.

This varies depending on how much you spend and the method of payment.

What are the costs of italki?

Costs vary per teacher and would generally become more expensive if a teacher has more experience.

Want more from Flexi Classes?

We offer a 7 day free trial to all new online students where you can study Mandarin 24/7. Come and check it out free of charge and see what you think!

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  • LTL Avatar Manuel Saldaña Quintans
    Manuel Saldaña Quintans , Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Language School!

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