Has Anyone Use italki?

I’m trying to really buckle down and boost my Japanese knowledge because I’m under a time limit to get this language mastered. A lot of youtube Japanese teachers recommend italki as a good resource for practicing speaking in Japanese, which is said to help a lot.

Unfortunately, I’m also a college student with a tight budget. I can afford to pay for italki if I cut corners in other places, but my question is, is it worth it?

Has anyone here used italki? What were your experiences? Was it useful overall? Are there other similar programs I could use to speak with someone in Japanese that you would recommend?

ありがとうみなさん!

Edit: This is so helpful, everyone, thank you!

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People here have, I haven’t. Just wanted to maybe bump your question back up the list.

I think the worth of iTalki really depends on if you jive with your teacher. So be sure to make use of free lessons on offer, but also go into the lesson with a clear goal that the teacher can play into. Do you want grammar classes? From what level? Aiming for JLPT? In what time frame? Just general conversation practice?

I think there is also hellotalk for language exchange. And with corona many language meetups have moved online, so look around for that, too!

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I use it two times a week for last 5-6 months. Found a good old lady with whom i speak on different topics. Sometimes we revisit grammar, read manga, but mostly we talk every lesson with a second of being quiet =)

There are no free lessons there, as i can remember, but you can take 3 test lessons (30 mins) which are usually much cheaper.

Look through the prices (there are a lot of people in 7-12$ per hour), watch introduction videos, choose a person which you feel you can conversate with. Not all people there are good teachers, but good conversation partners. And vice-versa. There are also good profesional tutors, but price goes up a bit of course.

Good luck, it’s really fun and also after a 10-20 lessons you will feel much confident in real speaking, even talking about only about weather, your country traditions or something similar =).

PS English is not my native, so sry for mistakes, lol

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The good thing about iTalki is that there are Japanese people on the platform who are willing to practice their English with you for free, and will exchange you helping them talk in English for them helping you talk Japanese. Just drop a post out there and see who responds, I had about four Japanese people added to my Skype from iTalki alone, I took a break from it but will defnitely return at some point soon.

If you have limited money and there are still learning resources you are yet to buy, I’d prioritise those first. And practising talking with yourself is an underrated learning technique and I would recommend getting used to speaking in Japanese before getting a teacher as it will just save some time and therefore money.

I’m playing Okami on the Switch at the moment and I make sure I read every word so I get the additional benefit of practicing speaking the language as I play (I use Japanese.io to log all the words I do not know).

At the point you come to choose a teacher, make sure you do your research on every teacher. There’s nothing wrong with getting a ‘community’ tutor (much cheaper), they know the language and will talk to you in Japanese, you don’t always need that added technical insight a professional can provide (you can always get the technical details from your other study resources). this is good if you want to use iTalki for purely conversational practice.

Good luck! :grin: :+1:

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I agree. However, how do you find out if you make mistakes?

Off on a tangent about practicing with yourself...

So very true!!! I’m am writing little “situational dialogues” for common situations that I believe I will find myself in when I go to Japan. I plan to use those for “vocabulary groups” to review. Then I can review that before I go to the situation.

That is a good question! I am going through Google translate first pass… Maybe I will post it out on a forum for people to pick apart? There is no limit on people who know more Japanese than me!! (See eg. Zizka’s thread )

Wow!! I never would have thought of that!

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I was going to suggest setting your Alexa or Siri language to Japanese and testing various commands. But I think support for non-English language in virtual assistants is currently weak.

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Only a couple of people responding have used it, so I’ll reply :slight_smile:

I have been using it for about 6 months now, after considering doing it for years. Personally, I love it and wish I had done it sooner. I was so shaky on my speaking skill because I mostly study alone, but I have seen my confidence and ability to quickly figure out what I want to say grow by leaps and bounds. It is not a magic bullet for language, but if your goal is to become comfortable conversationally, then I couldn’t recommend it more.

Couple of caveats—I love my teacher. We have a good vibe and I would enjoy talking to her even if we weren’t speaking Japanese. You might have to shop around for a bit to find a teacher you enjoy talking to–I doubt I would enjoy italki as much if it weren’t for her.
Secondly—you have to find a teacher who can provide what you want out of italki. Some teachers, like mine, focus solely on conversation. Some might give you some homework. If you look at their introduction pages, they usually say what their teaching style is like and you can find one that matches what you’re looking for.

Overall, I would recommend. Oh one other thing, in regards to price, you can find some very affordable teachers…usually people who aren’t professional teachers but still speak english and can still work with you to improve your japanese. My teacher is a bit expensive but if I couldn’t afford her I would just book cheaper teachers.

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I second this. Every teacher will have different experience and abilities, so make sure you find someone that can offer what you want. I meet my teacher once per week and we just talk in Japanese only for an hour - but that’s because I can do all the other stuff by myself. I just need to speaking practice
My friend has a teacher that does a lesson plan so they introduce grammar and treat it like a 1 on 1 classroom environment. This helps them with the basics so they can get a foundation

italki is actually pretty great, and talking with natives will supercharge your learning. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and you will start to see results very quickly

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I used italki for over a year. I had two long term tutors and a dozen one off ones. I gladly pay for italki because I don’t have access to a language school or anything similar.

With my current tutor we have a class twice a week where for the first 15 minutes we just chat about what happened in our lives since the last class. Right after we check my homework and then proceed to learn a new grammar structure and do exercises for practice.

Grammar aside I noticed a huge improvement in my ability to express myself in Japanese. Since we never speak English. The previous tutor was fluent in English and I liked it a lot since I could ask for nuanced explanations back when I could neither ask nor understand the answer well in Japanese. But after passing N3 I switched to a Japanese only tutor.

I buy a package of 5 1-hour classes, which costs $70, which is almost twice cheaper compared to my previous tutor. But I think I got lucky with my current one. Or rather she could’ve been charging more.

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Good question! It’s more to get used to speaking, the action of talking the language. You’ll pick up mistakes with the pitch absolutely, but I think it will take less time correcting those after you get a tutor than the amount of time it would take to build from scratch with a tutor costing you those big bucks.

Plus, as long as you do enough listening (as we should all be doing! cough Terrace House) your brain will be aligning your mind in the background (hopefully). That is my strategy anyway, seems like it’s going ok so far.

I’ve had one lesson on italki and would definitely recommend it.

WaniKani is invaluable and I think italki will be too. There are some really amazing language learning resources out there nowadays.

Learning Japanese in the 80s and 90s must have been an absolute nightmare!!!

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I tried a couple of teachers and tutors on iTalki before I found my current teacher. She’s a certified Japanese teacher, she speaks excellent English, and she helps me relax and try to speak Japanese. We go through a textbook together, but before starting the textbook she provided me with reading materials. Finding the right teacher can be hard so I recommend watching the teachers’ intro videos and reading their presentations before booking a test session. If you don’t feel comfortable with one teacher you can always try someone else. It’s really worth it for me. Good luck finding your teacher!

I have and still take lessons.
Big tip: take a professional teacher, it really makes a difference.
My teacher you can take different classes, free conversations, beginners and upper beginners.
I think you need to have a connection with the teacher. You can take up to 5 trail lessons (so 5 diff teachers if needed) . Take your time to go through the website and look at the YouTube videos of them. After 2nd trail I found the teacher that I have to good connection with.
Another tip once you find your teacher take the package deals it saves you money.
Good luck in finding the teacher that fits you best.

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I’ve been taking italki lessons for about 6 months. I tried a few teachers but settled on two professional teachers for a while. There were a few that I just didn’t really jive with. It was nothing they did, every teacher I’ve tried has been nice, I just had to admit that it didn’t work.

Of the two teachers that I settled on using, with one we focus a lot on new grammar while the other we mostly focused on conversation practice. Doing both professional teachers got really expensive to maintain so I recently found a tutor that I really like to go to instead of the conversational professional teacher. I’m sad because we had a lot of hobbies in common and she was so down to earth and fun to talk to but I think for my Japanese learning, this route will be better for me. The community tutor that I recently started with is super nice though and more helpful about helping me make phrases and sentences that sound more natural than any other teacher I’ve tried so I’m really excited to work with her more. :blush:

I get really nervous around people that I don’t know and tend to just be quiet. Trying to speak in a language I don’t know well made that even worse. After a few classes with a specific teacher though, I’m able to relax enough to stumble through a conversation in Japanese. I know my Japanese is really bad but we won’t get better if we don’t keep trying! Like I said, it’s been about 6 months and I am definitely seeing some improvement so I definitely recommend it.

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So I waited a long time to use italki. 3 years. I don’t recommend outputting until you have around JLPT N4 mastered. Anything below you should be listening more. I also think there’s more to be gained shadowing during this time than speaking freely. You’re going to create a lot of bad habits if you output too early. There’s learning from mistakes but if you don’t understand them, like your pronunciation, you won’t be capable of learning from them. Basically languages are broken down into listening > speaking > reading > writing.
If you haven’t done your fair share of listening to know what sounds natural, then you’re going to find yourself running before you can crawl and you’re not going to catch the little things you’re doing wrong.

Before I get chastised. No you don’t need to wait 3 years like me, but you do need the core 2000-2500 words and the basic grammar down with lots of listening practice under your belt. Italki is a great tool but if you’re spending that whole time in silence because you’re translating in your head, you’re wasting you and your teachers time and most importantly your money. Hope this helps.

I used a similar program but not italki itself. It was ok, can potentially get expensive really quickly if you want to do multiple lessons per month. If you’re going to use it, I highly recommend using a textbook and following the chapters bit by bit (with homework). Many tutors have access to multiple textbooks and will be more than happy to teach with them.

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I’m not sure if I understand what you mean. Sure, with no Japanese knowledge you can’t use Italki to practice speaking. But there’s nothing wrong with an Italki lesson mostly in English if you want to go over the first chapter of Genki! As long as you understand what you want out of the lesson, you can use Italki at any level in my oppinion.

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I’ve done this with Siri. Honestly though, it’s probably not that useful unless you go search for things to say, especially because Siri’s default commands (in the help section) are super heavy on words imported from English, so you learn practically nothing if you follow what’s given on the iPhone. I personally say stuff like
気温はなんですか
今何時ですか
タイマーを25分に設定してください (セットして is the default, but I refuse to use that because it teaches me nothing)
明日7時半に起こしてください
洗濯物のことを思い出させてください (again, the default command for ‘remind me’ is リマインドして, but what’s the point, right? Hahaha.)

That aside though, it’s really just a chance to construct relatively simple sentences as quickly as you can so that Siri doesn’t shut off and start processing your command mid-sentence. It’s not so great for more advanced Japanese speaking practice otherwise.

UPDATE: Did a quick check of the example commands for reminders, and it turns out there are some words that aren’t English words, like 作成 for ‘complete’. I guess they’re worth looking into, though you’ll probably want to search the dictionary for native Japanese/Sino-Japanese synonyms for the English words.

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depends on your purpose I guess. I’m thinking in terms of outputting the language, if you just need guidance then by all means that is one way to go.

I wish I had done that with Genki, could have kept me a little more accountable for sure.

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