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Ian How Teachers Make a Difference at italki

October 7, 2021 Apps No Comments
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Think back on all the teachers who have made a difference in your life. World Teachers’ Day was created by UNESCO in 1994 and is held every year on October 5 to honor teachers and recognize their contributions to society and the world around us. After all, you wouldn’t be the person you are today without teachers — which is why italki wants to celebrate and honor all of its amazing teachers at this special time of the year.

italki is the world’s leading online language platform, using technology and human connection to help people become fluent. And italki’s greatest secret weapon is its teachers. These are the people who help inspire and motivate students and who have a direct impact on your language learning journey. More than 10% of our teachers are polyglots — a rare skill — speaking more than four languages. Not only our students are language lovers, but a lot of them are also teachers. And you thought Harvard was tough to get into? The requirements to become an italki teacher are high, with less than 10% of applicants being accepted into the program. Rest assured that we are selecting the most professional, certified, and verified native teachers for you.
We talked to some of italki’s top teachers to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on what makes italki such a special experience, both for teachers and students.
The Advantages of Teaching and Learning Online
The first thing to know about italki is that it’s a unique model when it comes to language learning, offering personalized one-on-one online instruction in more than 150 languages. There’s no subscription required and it’s affordable, since students can select teachers through an open marketplace where the cost of classes ranges based on the teacher you choose.
On italki, you’ll meet people like Gio, a Korea-based teacher who offers instruction in Korean. For her, the online approach made a big difference. “I don’t need to worry about the place for a lesson,” she says. “In Korea if you work as a tutor, you need to find a place to teach. It could be a student’s house or a cafe. But there are no places where you can feel as comfortable as home. For me this was a big advantage of teaching online.”
The Flexibility of italki
Next up, meet Laura, a teacher from the United Kingdom who also happens to be an influencer with more than 40,000 subscribers on her YouTube channel. She loves italki because of its flexibility. “I am also an actor so I love that I can do both of the things that I love for a living and I don’t have to compromise for either of them,” she says.
According to Laura, this flexibility is also an advantage for students. “Online study allows for great flexibility and is very convenient for those who have busy schedules and busy lives,” says Laura. “For some, they can only spare an hour in a week and they might not want to spend 30 minutes of that travelling.”
The Range of Lessons
Alain dR is a self-described polyglot. Based in Ghent, Belgium, Alain specializes in Dutch and Flemish, but he also speaks English, German, Spanish, Maltese, Portuguese, and Turkish. He has touched the lives of more than 100 students in his four years with italki. What does he like the most about his profession? “Not a single lesson is the same,” says Alain.
Indeed, teachers on italki can choose whatever approach works best for their student. This could mean casual conversation or it could involve structured lessons. Teachers on italki customize the experience for each individual user.
“I constantly use pictures, videos, documents, online games, and all sorts of things to assist me in class,” says Laura. “I will end a lesson with a three year old where we are doing nursery rhymes, songs, games and stories. Then I will go to my next lesson with a business professional where we will role play a job interview. Then I head to a lesson where my student purely wants to talk and learn British slang. It’s always so different.”
A Student-Centric Approach in the Learning World
One of italki’s main differentiators is offering a student-centric approach to learning. What does that mean? Ask Burger, a teacher from the Faroe Islands who also works as a registered nurse at a rehab facility. “When the teacher puts an effort into assessing the individual student and planning the lesson for that student’s particular needs,” he says. “Sometimes it’s okay to reuse learning materials, other times new, personalized materials are required.”
The Rich Community
In addition to one-on-one instruction, italki gives students access to a vast community of users to help them practice their skills. This is a major part of the appeal for Burger. “italki has a great community and there are a lot of motivated students and teachers. It’s a special feeling, thousands upon thousands of people who are all ready to learn and teach and communicate,” he says. “Teaching is the highest level of learning. As long as I am learning, I am living.”
The Best Advice of All
Looking for more advice about online learning on italki? Burger shared the top three recommendations he would give to students:
1. Try new teachers. “It’s not always your first or second teacher who will be the one to help you most efficiently.”
2. Everybody needs a break sometimes. “If you have made a lesson plan with your teacher with a lesson or more every week and you feel like you are getting tired or losing motivation, tell your teacher honestly. All teachers will understand this and it will be best for everyone if you take a break when you need it.”
3. Balance your expectations. “If you and your teacher are on the same page with regards to learning output expectations and lesson attendance prioritization, I promise you that you will have much better lessons with much less downtime. Teachers spend a lot of time in-lesson assessing the student in order to plan for the next lesson. This time can be minimized if you write a message to the teacher a few days before each lesson with some pointers that the teacher can use to prepare for the lesson.”
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