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italki Review: Is italki A Language Learner’s Best Friend? [Prices, Tips, Pros & Cons]

by Michele
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italki review 2021 - Prices, pros and cons, and top tips
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Want to learn a language from anywhere and anytime that suits you? italki is changing the way we learn languages, for the better! From prices, pros and cons, to top tips, here’s everything you need to know about using italki.

Nowadays, the opportunities for learning foreign languages are ever-increasing. It seems like there is always a new cutting-edge app or a fresh super-efficient technique out there. However, the traditional way of learning a foreign language with a teacher still remains one of the most effective ways of doing it. 

The advantages of working with a teacher come down to one key idea: you get the support, expertise, and guidance of someone, who not only has a thorough knowledge of your target language but is also an expert in helping others learn the language. A good teacher will build a learning plan tailored specifically to your needs, help you find the best – and most fun – learning materials, and provide feedback on your learning. 

Modern technology makes this way of learning even better: through the Internet, you can learn with teachers from all over the world, at any time, wherever you are. Which makes it perfect when you have a busy lifestyle.

One of the best platforms to find teachers online is italki. On italki, you can literally find thousands of teachers teaching over a hundred different languages. That’s no exaggeration either! italki is an amazing resource that any language learner or enthusiast can benefit from. In fact, italki is the preferred platform of many well-known polyglots that I interviewed.

In this guide, you will learn all there is to know about italki: what it is, how it works, what it can offer you, and more! Plus, I’ve also included several top tips on how to make the most of it. 

Introduction to italki 

italki review - Use the search to find teachers and tutorsitalki is an online platform that helps foreign language learners and teachers from all over the world find each other and arrange classes. The platform itself doesn’t offer classes, but it allows language teachers to present themselves so that learners can choose a suitable teacher from a wide variety of alternatives. 

Each teacher sets their schedule and prices themselves. They have different qualifications and experiences and they come from different countries. This variety allows you to choose an option that fits you the most. 

The platform has a website as well as a mobile app which is free to sign up and browse. Payment for lessons is made through italki, while classes themselves happen on a variety of platforms: Skype, Zoom, WeChat, FaceTime, and others. 

It is important to know that italki is not responsible for the quality of the lessons: the platform gives teachers an opportunity to work independently but does not monitor their content, lessons, or lesson plans. Having said that, there is an excellent system in place to vet teachers before they are added. There are also reviews written by students which help to promote good quality lessons and great teachers so learners can find what they need – but more on reviews later. 

italki review - Leave a review after your lesson

Signing up on italki

Signing up on italki is super-easy, you just need to enter your email or phone number and come up with a password. You can also sign up with a Facebook, Google, Apple ID, or WeChat account. Signing up and browsing italki is free – you will only need to pay when you book a lesson. 

When you sign up, you need to enter your name or nickname, the language you speak, your target language and your level of proficiency (you can add more than one target language later in your profile), and your time zone (this allows you to display the schedules in ‘your’ time and helps avoid confusion).

That’s it! You are signed up and can now look for a teacher or browse the content on the italki community page. The user interface of italki supports 19 languages – so you can browse in your mother tongue or in your target language. 

Languages offered and prices on italki

italki review - Over 15000 teachers in over 100 languagesOne of the disadvantages many language learning resources have is the number of languages they offer: quite a few are limited to just a small selection of the most popular languages, while learners of more bespoke or rarer languages have to go on looking for something else.

italki doesn’t have this problem: there are teachers for over 100 languages on the platform. There is no other website or app where you can have such a wide choice.  To find out more, you sign up here.

Before I found italki, I had this exact issue when I started learning Norwegian. Now I have lessons on italki every week and use it to maintain my other languages, including Italian.

The most popular language on italki is English, with over 4000 teachers, followed by Spanish, French, Chinese, and Japanese. Languages that are less widespread are represented by fewer teachers, but no matter whether you want to study Afrikaans, Basque, Welsh, Croatian, Javanese, Luo, or Wolof, you can find a teacher for it on italki. 

The great variety of teachers on italki opens up lots of opportunities; it allows you to be quite ‘picky’ and choose a teacher that fits you the most. You can look for teachers from a particular country, speaking a particular dialect, within a certain age range, or having specialised experience in a particular area (business, academic, etc.).

The teachers on italki set their own prices which also gives learners the opportunity to choose what is convenient for them: the prices range from $4 to $80. Paying 80 dollars for a lesson sounds a bit too steep, but there are only a few teachers who charge that – the majority of the lessons are about $10-$15, and you can take a trial lesson for as low as $1-$2. 

The prices depend on a variety of factors: the popularity of the language, the availability and demand for teachers, the teacher’s experience, and the country the teacher is from. Lower cost does not mean lower quality. For instance, teachers from countries with a lower cost of living tend to have lower lesson prices. For example, learning Afrikaans is much cheaper compared to Norwegian (as I personally found out).

As soon as you sign up to italki, you get 3 trial lessons. With the ‘trial lessons’ feature, you can try out lessons with different teachers at a discounted price. Not all teachers offer trial lessons, but many do. You can buy either packages or book single lessons with teachers without a long-term commitment and switch to a new teacher easily if you prefer. 

italki also has a great referral program that can help you pay for your lessons. When you invite a friend and they successfully take their first lesson on the platform, you get $15 in italki credits and they get $10 in credits which can be used to pay for lessons on the platform. As your friend continues to take lessons you will get further rewards in the form of credit coupons. If you’ve got language learner friends, why not invite them to italki then you both get rewarded. You can find your referral link in your italki profile. 

The huge number of teachers on italki has another significant advantage: as there are a lot of teachers who come from all over the world, there is a great chance that you can find someone who teaches your target language but also speaks your mother tongue. This is even a feature in italki’s teacher filter: for instance, you can look for a Spanish teacher who also speaks English or another language. 

Having a teacher who also speaks your mother tongue can be quite convenient, especially at lower levels. Such a teacher will be able to explain certain things to you in more detail, as well as compare and contrast the two languages to facilitate better understanding. 

Two types of teachers on italki

italki review - Choose between a professional teacher and a community tutoritalki aims at providing the users with a variety of great language learning options. One of the ways the platform does this is by dividing the teachers into two distinct types, labelled as ‘professional teachers’ and ‘community tutors’.

‘Professional teachers’ are those who have a relevant university degree or a teaching certificate. These are people who usually also have professional teaching experience in schools or universities. Their status is verified by italki staff, and the verification process is quite stringent. 

‘Community tutors’ are native speakers of a language or language learners with a high proficiency level who can provide informal lessons and conversation sessions. 

There is an assumption that lessons from professional teachers are more expensive but higher in quality – this is not quite, or at least not always, true. Prices differ from teacher to teacher regardless of their status, and some community tutors charge more than some professional teachers. Lesson quality differs as well: some learners even report better experience with community tutors than with professional teachers. 

Community tutors may be a better fit if you are looking for informal conversation practice rather than language lessons. This way, you can chat with native speakers on some interesting topics, but they will also be able to give you some feedback if needed. 

Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict with 100% certainty which teacher would be the perfect fit for you. However, there are a few things you can do when choosing a teacher to get as close to it as possible – read on to find out! 

How to choose a teacher and schedule classes on italki

italki review - Browse the search results One of the problems you may have with italki is the problem of choice. Let’s say you are learning Spanish. There are over 1900 Spanish teachers on italki! Having many options to choose from is great but at times it also makes you feel a little lost. 

First of all, it is important to know your own goals and requirements in learning your target language. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Would you like the teacher to be able to explain things in your native language?
  • Are there any particular language aspects, grammar points, or topics you want to study?
  • Would you prefer a formal lesson or casual speaking practice? 

There are no right or wrong answers here – we all have different preferences and needs in language learning when it comes to our learner type and goals. 

In general, think of what you need to learn, what you want to achieve, things you would like or dislike in a language lesson. It would help you narrow down the wide choice of teachers as well as communicate more effectively when you start lessons. 

After you have clarified some of your wants and needs, make use of the filter on the platform as this will allows you to filter teachers by:

  • The country they are from (can be great if you are learning a particular dialect of your target language)
  • The language(s) they also speak
  • Their lesson price
  • Their availability 
  • Their type (professional teacher or community tutor)
  • Language category (general, business, test preparation, etc.)

You can also select among native speakers only and/or teachers who have enabled ‘instant booking’ and will accept your lesson request immediately. 

italki review - Use the search filters to find the right teacher for youHowever, after using the filter, you can still be left with a lot of teachers to choose from. What next? Visiting the teachers’ profiles will help you make a further selection. There are a few informative things there:

  • A video introduction – you can hear the teacher speak and get at least a general idea of their personality.
  • A description with 4 sections: ‘about me’, ‘me as a teacher’, ‘my lessons and teaching style’, and ‘my teaching material’ – it will help you get to know the teacher as a person and their approach to learning a bit better
  • A resume (for professional teachers) and italki statistics – you’ll get an idea of the teacher’s experience
  • The types of lessons they offer in terms of language level, topic, or category; you can click on each lesson type for more details to see if it matches what you need
  • Student reviews – you can see the teacher’s average rating as well as detailed reviews from their students 

italki review - Explore the teachers profileStudent reviews are a super helpful feature. Although people rarely leave negative reviews, the positive ones can give you an idea of what the teacher can offer and what their lessons are like – and you can then decide if it fits you. 

But what if you still can’t choose? While looking for a teacher on italki, it is important not to obsess about finding ‘the perfect one’ – otherwise, you may spend hours browsing teacher profiles instead of actually learning. 

You can never know for sure if the teacher is right for you until you have a lesson with them. Fortunately, on italki you don’t have to make a long-term commitment before you meet the teacher – you can schedule a single lesson or even a shorter and cheaper trial lesson (most teachers offer them) to see for yourself what this teacher is like. 

Even if a teacher turns out to not to be a good fit, it is still better than wasting hours browsing teacher profiles and trying to figure out who is the perfect one. By taking a lesson and moving on if it’s not a good fit you still get some language practice in the process – as well as a better understanding of what works for you. 

italki review - Read the the teacher reviews to help you choose a teacher

How to book lessons on italki and pay for them

When you find a teacher you like on italki, you can book a lesson with them in a few different ways: 

  • If you’d like to start with a trial lesson, click on ‘trial lesson’ and select a suitable available slot
  • Click on ‘book now’ on the teacher’s page, select the lesson type and a suitable timeslot
  • Click on the teacher’s schedule, see if a suitable slot is available, then proceed with booking by clicking on ‘book a lesson’
  • In the ‘lessons’ section, select a suitable lesson type and then click on ‘book now’

italki review - Explore the teachers profile and see their availability and lesson packages they offer italki review - Choose lesson typeWhile booking, you will often see different lesson lengths: often, 30-, 45-, and 60-minute lessons are available. After selecting the lesson’s duration and time, you’ll also be able to select the platform where it will take place: Skype, Hangouts, Facetime, etc. (options differ from teacher to teacher). 

italki review - Choose lessons duration from 30 minutes to 60 minutesitalki review - How to schedule a lesson italki review - How to buy italki creditsYou can also send the teacher a message before taking a lesson to ask questions or to tell them a little about yourself and your language learning needs. 

After you book a lesson, you need to pay for it, of course. You can pay directly for a particular teacher’s lesson or you can purchase italki credits (1 credit = 1 USD) which you can use later to pay for any teacher’s lessons on the platform. 

There is a small processing fee for each payment (69 cents for $10 paid with a debit card) which gets smaller if you buy credits in bulk: if you are planning on taking multiple lessons with one or several teachers, you can do that to save a bit. The credits you purchase will stay in your account until you use them, they don’t expire. 

However, the credits are non-refundable, so try not to buy more credits than you need. If you are just beginning to use italki and are still in the process of looking for teachers and getting used to the whole process, paying for lessons individually may be a better option. 

Depending on where you live, different payments are available, but paying via debit card, PayPal, or bank transfer is available for most countries. 

What are lessons like on italki?

Each teacher on italki is unique in their own way, and their lessons are unique as well: you can never know for sure if a teacher’s lesson-style fits you unless you take at least one. 

Teacher’s lessons will differ in their approach, pacing, structure, formality, how the teacher deals with mistakes, how they provide feedback, and so on. This is great, because different learners have different needs and likes, and what works for one may be terrible for another. 

Take a look at students’ reviews, but also make sure to take a few trial lessons from different teachers when you begin to use italki. By comparing these experiences, you’ll get a better idea of what is right for you. 

Most teachers on italki are quite flexible and accommodating to their students’ needs and wishes. If you have some specific needs, like, say, getting ready for an exam or doing homework for a language class at school, you can discuss this with your italki teacher in advance: most likely, they will be able to meet your needs.

The italki community and special features 

italki is famous as a platform that helps language learners and teachers connect with each other. However, it can offer you much more than that to help take your target language to a new level of proficiency. 

You will find these additional features in the ‘Community’ section. They are free to use, and you can use them as stand-alone features or to supplement your classes with italki teachers. 

italki review - Use the Community feature

Here are some of the things you will find in the community section: 

Topics and posts

These can be about anything and everything. You can find some great language learning tips here, general language-related discussions, book and movie clubs, people asking specific questions about their target languages or looking for language exchange partners. The platform offers you topics and posts in the languages that you selected in your profile, so don’t forget to select all your target languages if there are more than one. Like on any social network, the number of posts can be a bit overwhelming. You can use hashtags to filter the posts a bit (like #picturestory or #boostyourcareer) or take a look at the editor’s pick for a selection of some of the best topics. You can post yourself in this section as well: share your language learning experience, help people learn your mother tongue, or connect with other language learners. 


This great feature allows you to practice your target language through writing and speaking. The idea is very simple: you write something in your target language (or record your voice – available in the app only) and other users on the platform can see what you write, comment, provide feedback, and correct your mistakes. You can write freeform about whatever you want or use one of the prompts on italki to get you started – there are some interesting questions out there that are great not only for language practice but for self-reflection as well. Whatever you write, remember: your posts are public and all other users can see them; make sure that you are comfortable with strangers reading what you write and that you don’t post any sensitive information about yourself. 


This is another very useful italki community feature. Basically, it is for asking specific questions about language learning and your target language in particular which you might have. There are thousands of users on italki, there most likely will be someone who can help you. It is also a nice way to pay it forward and to help others when you can – it is a community, after all, by supporting other learners and getting their support, you can learn even more efficiently. 

italki review - Ask a question on the Community tab

How to find language exchange partners on italki

Although lessons on italki are not that expensive, there may come a time when you prefer not to spend any money on lessons at all. Finding a language exchange partner to practice your target language with can be a good solution in this situation. It is also a great way to vary your learning and have some extra practice. 

italki not a language exchange platform. There used to be a feature on the platform that allowed you to look for other users based on where they are from, the language(s) they speak, their age, etc. The feature has since been disabled, and connecting with uses is not as easy now. However, you don’t have to go elsewhere to search for language exchange partners – you can still do it on italki. 

In the community section, you’ll see many posts from other users, and there are quite a few posts from people specifically looking for language exchange partners – you can get in touch with the ones that interest you.

Language exchange is usually about mutual help: the best option is to find someone who is learning your mother tongue and speaks your target language. This way, you can communicate by interchanging the two languages and help each other. However, depending on how widespread your target language is, you can quite often find people who are just happy to help someone learning their mother tongue or other people with the same target language.

Advantages and disadvantages of italki

italki is a great resource that has a lot to offer language learners. In this section, we’ll sum up its main advantages, as well as discuss some drawbacks that you can come across. 

Here are some of the benefits italki offers to language learners:

  • A huge number of teachers from all over the world to choose from
  • A wide selection of languages 
  • A flexible schedule 
  • A convenient booking system 
  • Affordable prices 
  • A great referral program 
  • Great free community features 
  • Language exchange 

However, no language-learning resource is perfect and there is always room for improvement. It also depends a lot on your preferences and learning needs: some things may come across as disadvantages if they don’t match your requirements. 

Here are some of the things that can be counted as disadvantages of italki:

  • No dedicated feature for finding language exchange partners and connecting with other users
  • There is no instant lesson feature – if you are in the mood for a spontaneous lesson or have an unexpected free window in your busy schedule, there’s no opportunity to have a lesson within a few minutes of logging in on the platform 
  • Teacher quality can differ greatly – this is not italki’s fault but it is something you need to be aware of; price is not an indicator of quality; user reviews can help, but you can never be 100% sure
  • No other features available – if you want some vocabulary flashcards or extra grammar exercises you’ll have to look for other resources; however, italki is mainly a place to find language teachers – it has never been positioned as an ‘all-in-one’ platform, anyway. 

As you can see, the so-called disadvantages are actually fairly minor and, depending on your learning style and your needs, you may not even notice them. 

How to make the most out of italki 

As you can see, italki is an amazing language-learning resource that offers language learners a variety of choices and opportunities. However, as discussed above, one can sometimes get lost in such variety and so many options available. Don’t worry, though, I’ve got you covered – with these tips that will help you make the most of italki as a language learner. 

  • Try out several different teachers at first, especially if you are new to learning online. You can take shorter discounted trial lessons or just book single lessons from different teachers without making a long-term commitment. This will allow you to see how online learning works, compare different teachers, clarify what works for you and what doesn’t – all without spending too much money. After that, you can take classes from one or two teachers you like – or keep working with multiple ones for a more varied experience. 
  • Work with community tutors as well as professional teachers. As discussed above, the label of a ‘professional teacher’ doesn’t immediately guarantee better quality and more effective lessons. Community tutors have their own unique experiences and advantages; they can be great for informal language practice – don’t miss out on this opportunity just because they don’t qualify for the ‘professional’ label. 
  • Use the free features. Don’t ignore the community features on italki – they are free to use, and through them, you can get some extra language practice and meet other users for language exchange. 
  • Put in the effort. No matter how great the resource, how experienced the teacher, they can’t learn your target language for you. To be successful in mastering your target language you need to put effort into your learning and practice – fortunately, italki and its great teachers help make it easier.

Want to book your first trial lesson? Sign up to italki here 

Become a teacher on italki 

Another way to make the most of italki is to teach on the platform: even if you don’t have any teaching certificates, you can become a community tutor. After all, working from home setting your own schedule and your own prices can be a great way to make some extra money. If you have considered teaching, give italki a try!

There are a few things to keep in mind before you start:

  • italki takes a 15% commission 
  • Not all languages are open for teachers to apply – for instance, italki doesn’t accept English, Spanish, or Chinese teachers at the moment, possibly because the market for these languages is oversaturated 
  • Being accepted doesn’t mean that you’ll immediately have lots of students – you’ll have to invest some time and effort in presenting yourself and giving great classes 

Final thoughts 

italki review - Benefits of italkiitalki is one of the most useful language learning tools out there and my personal go-to for online lessons. It is convenient and affordable, but the opportunities it provides are immense and practically priceless. If you are serious about mastering your target language, checking out italki is a must! Sign up to italki here. 

Want to know more about learning languages? Start here!

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italki Review 2021 - Prices, Pros and Cons and Top Tips

Over to you!

Have you tried italki? What did you think? Do you have a question?
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