Whether you’re a complete beginner or a Korean master, we all could do with the extra practice.
If you’re travelling to Korea soon, wouldn’t it be amazing to be able to speak confidently and to enjoy your vacation that little bit more?
Italki is a fantastic language learning platform that connects you with skilled Korean tutors from the comfort of your own home.
Lessons are conducted virtually, making them extremely flexible, and there are hundreds of tutors to choose from.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way of practising with fluent Korean speakers, Italki is a no brainer!
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Learning Korean With An Online Korean Tutor
Learning Korean is definitely rewarding, it will expose you to a whole new culture and help you make new friends.
But the question is, how to do it in the easiest, most comfortable way?
Language learning is a hot topic with more and more people striving to enjoy foreign languages and cultures. Better still, there are tonnes of benefits to learning a second language, including increased career opportunities, a wider friendship circle and a deep sense of accomplishment.
But for many, it still remains an overwhelming subject to start.
There are many methods out there to help you on your journey. You probably know that learning a foreign language is often associated with boring and monotonous exercises. Remember all those tedious books, long courses and endless grammar drills?
But things quickly turn around when you get to talk to real people.
What Is Italki?
Italki is an online language learning platform facilitating interaction between the student and teacher.
To put it simply, Italki helps you, as a student, to find an online Korean tutor.
If you’re learning Korean, finding real Koreans who can instruct you is incredibly useful! And in the field of language learning, Italki clearly stands out.
Unlike many other platforms, its essence is pure and simple: no courses, no exercises, no complicated, unnecessary stuff. Unless of course that is what you want.
What you do get is just other human beings, you interact with them and with them only. Talk and learn.
A Fun and Effective Way to Practice
The italki platform makes learning Korean an easy and straightforward process.
Unfortunately, many people fail to understand what learning a foreign language is truly about.
It’s not just about memorizing a long list of words, and thank goodness learning a foreign language is not just about grammar (although, it’s quite imporatant!)
First and foremost, it is about practice! And practice comes through talking, which is the most common, natural way of using a language.
Of course, any language is inseparable from the culture of its speakers. By learning a foreign language such as Korean, you inevitably immerse yourself in its culture, heritage, traditions and unique worldview.
How Did Italki Start?
The history of italki is kind of interesting.
Its co-creator, Kevin, had a lot of trouble learning Chinese despite having gone through many courses.
The reason? Traditional methods of language learning are hugely detached from real life.
Only after immersing himself in a real Chinese environment and conversing with real people daily, did Kevin finally make real progress.
This gave Kevin massive inspiration to start italki, because the platform lets you talk, converse and learn in a much more natural way.
How Much Does Italki Cost?
The platform does not have a fixed price, it all depends on individual teachers who are responsible for setting their own rates.
Technically, you can spend as much, or as little as you want. Just keep in mind that if you’re wanting to learn from someone with a lot of experience, you will have to pay a little more.
Since you pay for each lesson separately, the exact cost depends on the intensity of your learning, as well as your tutor’s rate.
Note that Italki has a generous mechanism of trial lessons, which are like regular lessons but cheaper. This gives you the opportunity to meet with a tutor and experience their teaching style, at a reduced cost.
Although trials are offered as a way to test out the Italki platform, as a new user, you can take a trial lesson with 3 different tutors. This helps you to identify the best teacher for your needs.
“Try before you buy”, as they say.
What Kind of Tutors Are Available on Italki?
With Italki, you have the freedom to choose your own tutor (as well as switch between them, if you like).
Language learners have three different options:
Italki guarantees the quality of all the professional teachers and informal tutors on their platform, by ensuring they are at native level (C2) of the language they teach.
Furthermore, a tutor can only feature on the platform once they have been personally approved by Italki staff, so you can have peace of mind you’re paying for an experienced and qualified professional.
Language exchange partners can be found in the active forum on the italki website, where you can meet fellow language learners who are willing to help.
Which Level Of Tutor Should I Pick?
It all depends on your experience and what exactly it is you want to achieve from Italki.
If you are brand new, we would recommend a professional teacher, whose lessons would be more structured and tailored towards a beginner learner.
If you already have some experience and are just looking to polish your knowledge, an informal tutor is a fantastic (and often cheaper) alternative.
How to Find the Right Tutor
When it comes to teachers, you’re spoilt for choice as there are so many available.
Each has a unique style and a different approach. But don’t worry, finding the right Korean tutor is not difficult.
Remember that thanks to the trial system, you can try up to three different teachers at a significant discount until you find the perfect one.
A significant benefit of Italki is that you can view a short introductory video for each tutor. Here, they can explain their teaching style, what they can offer you, and give you an idea of what to expect in their lessons.
This helps narrow down the vast choice available to you, helping you to pick out someone you believe you can comfortably work with.
One more note about professional teachers and vs informal tutors.
Professionally certified teachers are more expensive, and their expertise is guaranteed by the italki platform. But that doesn’t mean informal tutors are necessarily worse. Certified tutors sometimes stick to a fixed, rigid plan which maybe not exactly the right fit for you.
Among the informal tutors, there are plenty of talented and dedicated people who’ll adjust to your personality and provide immediate feedback in real-time (this is the most important part of language learning).
And, of course, you can always take a trial lesson for a fraction of the price, to be certain.
Who Uses Italki?
Lots of people!
When I was first learning Korean, I used it a lot, just to get in the practice.
Judging by other online reviews, language learners clearly love italki. People from all around the world are actively using the platform for language learning and language exchange.
Moreover, Italki is home to a significant number of professional language teachers, among whom, of course, there are a lot of Korean native speakers.
Italki is the platform of choice for many thousands of language learners around the world.
How Do I Schedule a Class?
It’s straightforward to schedule a lesson, the entire process is quick and simple to do, right from the website.
All teachers have their own individual calendars, so take a look and select the best time to reserve a lesson. One of the biggest advantages of Italki is the flexibility over timings of the lessons, as you can schedule your class at the most convenient time for you.
The request gets submitted and, after the teacher approves the request, points are deducted from your Italki credits balance.
What Happens in a Lesson?
The beauty of Italki is that you call the shots!
After scheduling a lesson, you can choose the platform you’ll use to connect.
Most of the time, lessons are conducted over Skype, but if there is another platform you prefer (such as Google Hangouts or Zoom), simply put in a request to your tutor. Skype is probably the most popular option, especially in Korea.
Before the lesson, you can send a message to your new teacher so that he or she gets a better idea of your preferences and your language skills.
It’s important in this message to let your tutor know exactly how you want to structure the lesson.
Perhaps you prefer something formal, working through a textbook for example.
If you’re just looking to practice your listening and speaking skills, you can opt for just a conversation based session instead, which is a fantastic way to practice what you have learned.
Teachers will often charge a reduced price for just conversation, where they don’t necessarily have to do any ‘teaching’.
How Do I Pay Italki?
You can pay with conventional payment methods such as credit card or PayPal.
In order to use the platform, you have to top up your balance and purchase virtual credits, which are denominated in USD.
You exchange them for the services of numerous Korean teachers (needless to say, there is no shortage of them!)
Alternatives to Italki
Duolingo is particularly famous for its mnemonic approach when you gradually learn more and more words and expressions by using flashcards.
The other two follow a similar model to Italki, connecting you with Korean natives to help you learn.
While these websites have some interesting features, we found that Italki is in a league of its own due to it’s popularity amongst language learners.
As for Duolingo, while not necessarily bad, it stands in stark contrast to italki, which is all about real-time communication with native speakers and immediate feedback.
Drill-based language learning tools have their benefits, but they lack the natural, visceral touch of italki and real-time communication with the tutor.
We know that learning Korean is not the easiest task in the world, but with the help of Italki, it becomes so much easier and more enjoyable!
Don’t forget that no matter how many methods of learning languages there are, nothing can substitute authentic human contact. This is exactly why Italki is so great.
By choosing from a huge number of online Korean tutors who can accommodate any schedule, skill level and individual preferences, you’re getting first-hand language experience.
As long as you’re passionate about Korea and the Korean language, italki is certainly worth taking a look at.