Italki prep suggestions

I’m doing my very first italki lesson thursday morning. It’ll be conversation practice, not going through a textbook or anything like that. But I’m not really sure what people talk about in these things and I’m worried that I’ll freeze because a) I won’t know what to talk about and b) if I do figure out what to talk about, I won’t know how to say it. I have very little experience speaking Japanese and have a very hard time with listening comprehension, hence why I’m taking lessons in the first place! So I would like to prepare a little.

Does anyone with experience with italki know the sorts of things you talk about during a trial lesson or in the first few lessons of conversation practice? Also, should I use casual or polite speech?

Also I’m surprisingly not as anxious about this as I would have been one year ago (when I started really working on my social anxiety). I’ve accepted that I will mess up and I know that the instructor is here to help me and she seems like a very patient person from her page. But I also don’t want to just sit there like o_o when she asks me something as basic as どんな食べ物が好きですか。


In my experience, lesson styles vary a lot depending on the instructor, so I like to double check the instructor profile, reviews, and intro video for clues. Do they speak any English, or have they indicated that they don’t speak/use English in their lessons? Do they have experience teaching beginners? These details can help you know what to expect and how to prepare for the lesson. If they don’t have these things listed in their bio, you can always message the instructor and ask them more about their teaching style to see if it fits your needs.

Some instructors will ask you to choose the topic ahead of time, and sometimes the professional instructors will prepare a list of helpful vocabulary for you or a material for you to theme the conversation around (pictures, a short article). Others will ask you at the beginning of the lesson what you’d like to talk about, but will have some topics ready to suggest if you don’t have anything particular in mind. I suggest messaging your instructor ahead of the lesson to ask what they are expecting!

Here are some common topics I remember from my first lessons with different teachers:

  • Basic self-introduction including details such as name, occupation/year in school, hometown, etc.
  • What do you like to do for fun? Do you have any hobbies?
  • How are you studying Japanese? Do you have any specific goals?
  • What is your town/city like?
  • What was your favorite subject in school/major in college? What do you like about it?

A good instructor will support and guide you through the conversation. They’ll be flexible and adapt to your needs, repeating things or speaking more slowly if necessary. They’ll help you when you can’t think of the right word and type it into the chat box so you can read it too. They’ll choose a topic for you if you don’t have one in mind. No need to have it all together - their job is to help you, not to grade you! Best of luck on your first lesson, I hope it’s really encouraging!


Absolutely this. Even after years of using Italki, there are times where there I have breaks or pauses in the conversation, and I blank on where to go, and every time they’re on it to keep the flow going. A good tutor fills in those gaps and pushes you onward. :slight_smile:


@meeta Thank you for the very insightful reply! I will keep your advice in mind!

My instructor speaks English and has lots of experience with beginners. It seems that she often follows Genki, but she messaged me asking about my background with learning, and then she said we won’t be using Genki since I already have experience with Japanese. So I’m not quite sure how the conversation practice will be structured, but she didn’t say anything about topics to prepare, at least for this lesson. From her page it seems that she will prompt me or is at least prepared with conversation topics in case I’m not prepared.

Yes, this is exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for! Of course I knew that I should come up with some sort of introduction but it was hard to think of what exactly I should say.

Yeah I need to remember this. Of course logically I know they’re here to help me and will have strategies for when I’m struggling, but of course I’m still a bit nervous about embarrassing myself haha. I think partially because my only conversation practice I’ve done was not with language instructors so it was very awkward :joy: But it’s reassuring to know they’ll help me and are happy to repeat things. From the reviews it seems she’s quite patient and will repeat things slowly if necessary.

Thanks, you two :smiley:


Just had my first lesson!! And thought I’d give a little update in this thread!

The instructor was very patient and I really liked her teaching style. I ended up not preparing as much as I wanted to, but that’s okay because the conversation was very guided. Messed up with quite a few things :joy: but I wasn’t embarrassed like I usually am when I try to speak Japanese. She just corrected me, I said the correct version, and we moved on. And surprisingly I didn’t mess up any of my numbers? (I had to say a lot of dates and times)

The one thing I really struggled with was saying why I’m learning Japanese because I don’t know the answer to that myself! I’ve even talked about that on the forums a bit, I’m just learning Japanese for the sake of learning it, it’s just because I love Japanese. But I think my instructor thought I didn’t understand what she was asking. So she kept rewording the question to ask “why are you learning Japanese” in different ways lol. But other than that it went really well and I’m looking forward to next week :smiley:

I’m not really sure how many lessons I should book… I’m booking 5 for now, but I’m not sure if I can afford tutoring in the long run, especially since I suddenly have a lot more expenses and am trying to save money. But this is really important to me so I want to at least do this for a little bit. I know 5 lessons (6 counting today) isn’t enough to be fluent or anything but I’m hoping that will be enough to at least get me more comfortable speaking it?

Thanks y’all for the advice, it really helped me not be so nervous!!


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