Knowledge Base/Teacher Support/Instant Tutoring

How Instant Tutoring works for Teachers?

Mr. Support
posted this on December 12, 2013 10:54

If your schedule suddenly opens up or have some have extra time before or after giving an online session, Instant Tutoring is a great way take advantage of your free time to earn more money on italki!  Simply turn on your Instant Tutoring availability and students can immediately request and have a live lesson with you. Best of all, Instant Tutoring is completely flexible as you can teach whenever you want!

Instant Tutoring sessions are a way for students to get extra speaking practice.  As a teacher, flexibility is important as each student’s language ability and learning goals will be different. Be ready to help as a speaking coach, answer language questions or even correct student essays.   Instant Tutoring sessions should be student-directed since you won’t have any time to prepare in advance.

1.  Offer Instant Tutoring

Instant Tutoring is a feature that you must first activate to offer.  To activate this feature click on Edit Profile> Teacher Settings> Switch on "YES" on the Offer Instant Tutoring Slider and set your price for your Instant Tutoring sessions.   Instant Tutoring sessions are 30 minutes long.


Once you activate the Instant Tutoring feature, you won't need to activate it again.  Whenever you log into the italki website, the Instant Tutoring feature will be activated until you decide to turn it off (Switch the Offer Instant Tutoring slider to NO).

Offering Instant Tutoring is similar to offering any other course or lesson (Informal Tutoring, Professional Lessons, Trial Sessions) on italki.  You need to first activate it and set the price.


Instant Tutoring is only available for Teachers who have experience teaching on the italki system.  If you are a new teacher who is unable to Offer Instant Tutoring, please read the following FAQ:

I'm a new teacher on italki. Why can’t I offer Instant Tutoring?

2. Turn On your Instant Tutoring Availability

When you are ready to give Instant Tutoring Sessions, you need to Turn On your Instant Tutoring AvailabilityYou need to be online and ready to quickly accept Instant Tutoring Requests from students.

Click on the Instant Tutoring Tab and then switch the "I'm available for Instant Tutoring" slider to YES.


Once you turn on your Instant Tutoring Availability, you will immediately appear in the Instant Tutoring list of teachers! Only turn this on when you are absolutely sure you want to start Instant Tutoring!


Potential Students will now be able to request an Instant Tutoring session with you in real-time! 

It is important that you are nearby where you can quickly respond to real time requests from students!



3. Respond Quickly to Instant Tutoring Requests

When a student makes an Instant Tutoring request with you, Instant Tutoring Notifications will appear at the top of the italki website.  You'll also hear an Instant Tutoring Notification sound.  These requests are live and made by students in real-time. Click on Session Details to accept or decline the Instant Tutoring requests.

Students making Instant Tutoring requests in Real-Time


After clicking on Session Details you will be brought to the Confirmation page where you can Accept or Decline the Instant Tutoring request(s).


Once the first student makes an Instant Tutoring request, you have 10 minutes to accept or decline the request.  You may receive Instant Tutoring requests from many different students.  You can choose the student you would like to teach as you may prefer to teach a certain type of student. For example:

  • You may know one of the students and already have experience teaching him/her.
  • You may prefer to teach a student who speaks a certain language.
  • You may prefer to teach a student at a higher (or lower) language level.
  • You may have more experience teaching students from a certain country.

You can only receive a maximum 5 Instant Tutoring requests in the 10-minute Instant Tutoring Request period.  

 You must accept one of these students within the 10-minute Instant Tutoring Request period.      

If you do not respond to these requests in the 10-minute period, you will receive an Instant Tutoring Timeout.  If you accumulate 2 Instant Tutoring Timeouts in a row, your Instant Tutoring privileges will be suspended. See Instant Tutoring Rules & Policies.

 4. Have your online session via SKYPE or other VOIP software!

After you accept your Instant Tutoring request, if there are pending Instant Tutoring requests from other students, they will automatically be declined.  

After confirming the Instant Tutoring request, the Instant Tutoring confirmation page will appear and the student’s SKYPE or other VOIP program ID will be listed.  Connect and have your session.


 Instant Tutoring session are 30 minutes long.  At the end of the 30 minute Instant Tutoring session, students have the option to request another “Follow-Up” session.  As long as you don’t have a scheduled session for the next 45 minutes, you’ll be able to approve a Follow-Up session.

5. Confirm your session and give feedback.

After your session is completed, your student will have up to 2 hours to confirm the Instant Tutoring Session with you.  After the student confirms the session and leaves you feedback, be sure to leave feedback for the student as well!

If the student forgets to confirm the Instant Tutoring session, the completed session will automatically confirm in 2 hours.



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Brad C

If I close my italki windows in my browser, does that automatically change my status to "not available"?  And when I open italki in a new browser window (and the cookies indicate that it is me and sign me on automatically) do I then have to manually select IT availability, or will it automatically make me "available"?

December 27, 2013 23:52
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MoiraWendy Miller

Hmmmm... it seems kinda complicated and I'm not very good at juggling. I'm worried I'm going to get myself in a muddle trying to click/confirm/connect/etc. within the time frame. Er... and I use headphones and all the sound comes through there... so if I take them off I won't hear the instant whatsit notification sound. Mmmm... I've clicked on 'offer instant tutoring' but I'm going to 'unclick' and have another think. Mmmmmmmm.......

December 29, 2013 02:01
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MoiraWendy Miller

Yep I've read what Brad says and I think I may end up showing as 'available' when I'm actually not and therefore get a smacked bottom from iTalki for not answering requests.

December 29, 2013 02:04
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I've just clicked on available for instant tutoring, but on point 2 it says: "turn on your instant tutoring availability" -  where can I do this! 


December 30, 2013 05:04
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Mr. Support

As Instant Tutoring is currently in Beta, the tab "Instant Tutoring" doesn't exist yet.  To get to the Instant Tutoring page, you need to go to this direct link: which would be Step #2 - Turning on your Availability.  This Instant Tutoring page is hidden to the public for now.

December 31, 2013 02:16
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Mr. Support

If you accidentally close your Browser, you are still online for Instant Tutoring for 2 minutes (you can log back on and everything will be fine).  If after 2 minutes you don't log back on italki, we will automatically turn off your Availability.  See the FAQ here about it 

December 31, 2013 02:18
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Hi!  I went to the link above from Mr Support Dec 31... "you need to go to this direct link:"  ...

I moved the slider to 'ON' and my picture and profile information instantly appeared, under the other teacher whose profile was there.  

This other teacher's button was bright blue -- it seemed "ON" and clickable.  I was "ON" for about 10 minutes and my button did NOT turn blue -- it stayed pale grey.  

I went over to my teaching profile page and there was no Instant Tutoring button showing.

I sent a screenshot via email.  Just letting you know.  I'll try again over the next couple of days.  Thank you.

January 02, 2014 12:56
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Brad C

mondaytuesday, I'm guessing that this is because the system recognized that you were online and that it was you who was on this page, and so it didn't offer you the option of hiring yourself to teach yourself.  Anyone else looking at the page would see your button as bright blue... this is the same with me when I turn on the Instant Tutoring switch.

January 02, 2014 16:06
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Brad C

I accepted my first Instant Tutoring request today, and it went well.  But I did not hear any signal, and had I not switched to the browser tab that had the italki page on it, I would not have known that a request had come in a couple of minutes before!  Luckily, I accepted before the ten minutes had expired.  I think italki should consider sending an e-mail alert out as well, since that will signal someone who isn't staring non-stop at the italki page on his computer.

January 02, 2014 22:52
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I agree with Brad.  An email alert would be great.  Then I would receive an alert via my laptop and smartphone.  On a completely different note, I have a couple questions.  1. Italki is a great website for giving private lessons, but is italki going to offer the option of teaching group classes in the future, perhaps using Google Hangout or something similar?    2. When I accept a teaching request, does my instant teaching availability automatically switch to 'unavailable' while I am teaching that student?  

January 07, 2014 15:59
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I have had my instant tutoring suspended and I never received an alert that there was a request pending. Neither on my profile page nor my email!  What's up with that?

January 09, 2014 04:36
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MoiraWendy Miller

I doubt I would hear an alert as I take my headphones off whilst doing other tasks and all the sound comes through them. What I need is a big FLASHING alert that I can't possible miss.. but if it's covered by other windows that are open I doubt I'd see that either. Oh dear.

January 09, 2014 05:27
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I found that you have to be looking at the instant tutoring page in order to receive the alert.  Then once you confirm the request, the problem is connecting with the student.  I had to go to Skype and ADD a Contact in order to connect with the student.  It is a little confusing, but the session itself went very well.  I like the idea and the opportunity and I think it will benefit both the teachers and students.

January 09, 2014 07:01
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In step 3 above, there's a list of requests with big timers next to them; do these come up on your profile page or the instant tutoring tab?  Or do they not come up at all (yet)?  Like others, I am worried about missing notifications.  I need either something big or a dramatic noise. :)

January 11, 2014 00:47
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Yes, Sara, they come up on the instant tutoring page but if you are on another web page you do NOT see them...there is no alert in the notifications "envelope icon" either.  So if you are not sitting and looking at the Instant Tutoring page you will miss the alert and it counts as a negative mark against the teacher.  NOT good.  I think it needs to be some sort of sound or flash or some way that if you are playing a card game waiting for a student you are at least aware that something is happening on your page.  Or...the teacher needs not have a strike against them at least.  

January 11, 2014 09:00
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Thanks for the answer.  I can easily see myself being distracted for ten minutes and getting a strike!  Hopefully they will add a sound soon. :)

January 11, 2014 19:02
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Am I right that the potential students appear on instant tutoring page? So I have to use the link to go there ? What about the bottom "instant tutoring" on the Italki page? I have to say that it is still confusing, although I like the idea... 

January 12, 2014 17:30
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I wish at least we can hear what kind of sound would be played when I got an instant tutoring request in beforehand. So I could be aware. Or if I was able to set a  PARTICULAR email address just to receive notifications for instant tutoring request. In order to use some notification systems I could set on my side.


As terasee_morris quoted, I keep opening the instant tutoring page on my PC while I'm available for it. Though it's too harsh for teachers. You can't just be sitting around and waiting for instant tutoring requests coming in all the time even we're available. I think it's great system and opportunity for both teachers and students. And hope it will be improved!

January 13, 2014 08:08
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This is great!, a desired feature for me, and works very well; please implement an e-mail notification when someone request an instant tutoring, so I can hear the sound from my e-mail client, the default sound is pretty short. Thanks and Congratulations to Italki!

January 14, 2014 21:55
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I'm agree with Terasee, I had open other websites and I didn't hear any sound that I had a request. It'll be also helpful if you get an email if you are requested a session (most of us we have a mobile phone that sounds when we get an email)

January 20, 2014 02:22
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Ok, silly question, but just to make sure. The ''offer IT" slider (in teacher settings) enables the IT feature, but my availability, is controlled with the "I'm available for IT" on the IT page? Correct? For instance, can I enable IT on the teacher settings without turning on the slider on the IT page? Or should they BOTH be off at all times, if I'm not available to IT? I'm only asking because I log in on my mobile device all the time to message people, or to write on my notebook, or other activities, so I don't want to appear as available to IT when I'm not. Thanks. 

January 23, 2014 10:33
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You only have to enable "Offer Instant Tutoring" in teacher settings the first time, then the "I am available for Instant Tutoring" slider every time you actually want to offer instant tutoring.

You can check for yourself that you are available or not, in real time, right there below the slider field, or if you still are in doubt, do this test, open italki homepage in another browser without signing in, click a link in the footer, for example Proffesional lessons or Informal tutoring and then "Instant tutoring Beta" button, you will see your availability as a normal user would do.

January 23, 2014 11:16
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I think the system needs some type of "sound" implemented as well. Although most people have cell/smartphones, some do not.  Especially if you're traveling or in a country or area that do not have cell towers for reception. I also tutor online at Cambly and their instant tutoring function has sound that alerts me when I have a student waiting for lessons. It would be nice to have something similar implemented for Instant Tutoring at iTalki.  

January 24, 2014 00:14
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I had turned on my Instant Turtoring Availability once, but after a few minutes, it turned off automaticly, why? I don't understand. Could someone tell me how I should do?

January 28, 2014 15:22
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Hello Juliana, 

Did you have an up-coming lesson? In that case, the Availability will turn off automaticly.

February 23, 2014 23:22
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Alison C

I did my first ever session on Italki today and it was Instant tutoring so I learnt how it all worked quite easily.I like the idea.

What fooled me a bit was when I confirmed the session a 'Launch Application' screen came up with TWINUI or something asking me to choose the application.I was desperately looking  for Skype on a long list (it wasn't on) but then I heard the skype sound in the background so went to skype but the student was calling me as I was calling him.

What was that 'launch application' and who should initiate the call?

Does the student also stay on my Skype contact list?

I could hear the student very well (I had headphones) but he said the quality wasn't too good for him (he didn't have headphones) but he said he had a very good,expensive system wheras mine is just an ordinary Toshiba laptop.Should that make any difference?

Look forward to your comments.

March 26, 2014 23:12
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MoiraWendy Miller

I know NOTHING about computers and techy stuff but I usually ask them to check their internet speed if there is a problem that persists. I have some students who operate on wi fi  or shared internet systems in apartment blocks and we can only get reliable quality calls when all their neighbours are out! For this reason we schedule our sessions for certain times of the day.

Mind you, you can't schedule Instant Tutoring so that won't help. I've never done any 'Instant' !  I think I would get in a panic and hit all the wrong buttons!


March 27, 2014 00:38
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Instant Tutoring is great, I've done several ones actually, but as mentioned above the BIG problem of it is that you must be watching the page when you're available to get the requests! And as everyone will agree that's just impossible. I've missed a couple of requests already as I didn't notice them, so please Italki people, consider to create a REALLY noisy alarm when we're requested to teach! That'd make Instant Tutoring work fine as the rest of it is perfect.

April 07, 2014 10:15