Every person has different learning goals and preferred ways of learning. Some people prefer more structured, formal lessons, while others prefer to learn through informal conversation practice. Some students are under time pressure, while some students can explore a language on according to their own schedule. Whatever your situation, here is our advice for finding the best teacher for you.
How does italki select teachers?
Every teacher on italki is accepted only after completing an online application that is reviewed personally by italki staff.
As teachers and language learners ourselves, we only accept teachers whose profiles are complete and accurate, and who we personally feel comfortable recommending to italki students. All teachers are native or C2 in the languages they teach, and professional teachers have verified teaching credentials.
Now, it is up to you to decide which teacher will help you best.
Choosing Professional or Informal lessons
There are two kinds of teachers and two kinds of lessons on italki. You can read more about the two kinds of teachers here:
If you prefer structured lessons or don't yet have your own materials, we recommend that you choose a Professional Teacher.
These teachers are qualified to teach a language professionally. They already have professional experience, or have certification that qualifies them to be a language teacher. Most professional teachers also have prepared materials, lesson plans, and can give you recommendations for other materials to try.
Even if you don't want a formal lesson, you can look for professional teachers who provide "informal tutoring" and use the time to ask them questions about your studies or to practice conversation.
If you prefer to practice conversation, then we recommend you choose a Community Tutor. Tutors may not be qualified or experienced as professional teachers, but they are friendly, ready, and willing to help. Many of them are language learners and travelers themselves, so they are very likely to understand what you need. They can correct your mistakes, give you helpful phrases, and tell you about important cultural information.
Searching for a Teacher:
If you are looking for a new teacher, you can use the search options to find a teacher according to:
- What language he or she teaches
- Availability (includes "Instant Tutoring" - teachers who are available right now!)
- What other languages the teacher speaks
- Where the teacher is from
- Price or Hourly Rate
- Tags or "Teaching Specialties", these are teachers who want to teach lessons for:
- Test Preparation
- If you are looking for a class at a certain time, you can also search what day of the week and what time of day you would like to have class.
- You can also choose to see only teachers who are native speakers in the language, whether the teacher offers trial sessions, and whether the teacher offers both audio and video lessons (some teach using audio only).
You'll notice that teachers have two sets of tags.
- The gray "Teacher Specialty" tags are included in the search filters as shown above.
- The blue "Personal Tags" are freely chosen by the teacher, so you cannot search for them using the search filters, but you can see what the teacher wants you to know about them and their lessons.
Time-Saving Search Tips:
- Use the "Tags" options to filter your search according to what you need.
- Check the blue "Personal Tags" to get at-a-glance information about the teacher and their lessons. These tags are selected freely by the teacher themselves.
- If you want help with a particular topic like "writing" or "pronunciation", then scroll to the bottom of the search page and click the "Show More" button several times. Then, use your browser's search function to search for the keywords (writing, pronunciation, etc) that you want to find in the teacher's introduction.
- You can view a teacher's Video Introduction and Time Schedule right away to see if the teacher is available when you want to have class. Viewing the video introduction is a great way to get an idea of what the teacher will be like in class.
- If you are thinking of having class at a specific time, here is what you should search for:
- Late night
Please note that if a teacher is not a native speaker of the teaching language, this does not mean that the teacher isn't as good. Teachers who are not native speakers are advanced speakers of their teaching language, and are well-qualified. Non-native speakers often have a very sharp awareness of rules of the language and know from experience what aspects of the language are most challenging for beginners, so they can also be a very good choice for new students.
Use search to browse available teachers. Click "Show More" at the bottom of the screen if you need to view more teachers.
View a teacher's Video Introduction and Time Schedule without leaving your search results.
You can click through to the teacher's profile to view the available lessons, view more information, and send a message to contact the teacher and schedule a session.
Contacting a teacher
Make sure the teacher understands your goals
As an independent learner, it is also important to tell the teacher what your learning goals are and how you would like to study. This will help your teacher prepare a lesson that will benefit you.
Tell your teacher:
- What is your current language level, or how much of this language have you studied before? Even if you are a total beginner, don't worry! Just let your teacher know.
- Are you doing anything else now to help you learn?
- What is your goal for this language?
- I will take the HSK 5 in 6 months, and I want to practice vocabulary.
- I need to travel to India next month, and need some basic Punjabi.
- I want to speak with my grandparents in Welsh.
- I've studied for 2 years, and now I want to read Russian literature in the original language.
- I haven't studied Spanish since high school, but now I want to connect with my Spanish-speaking clients.
- Do you have any materials you want to use during your class, or any special topics you want to discuss? If so, tell your teacher.
Teachers generally have a lot of experience, and are often willing to create custom classes for each student. Knowing your current language level and your goals will help your teacher make better lessons for you. Some students also ask for homework to give themselves more pressure and more practice.
If you are dedicated to improving, you might ask your teacher to suggest a long-term plan based on how much practice the teacher thinks it might take you to accomplish your goal.
Try a few different teachers
One of the great benefits of using italki, is that you can easily try working with different teachers. Experienced italki learners and teachers know that it is good to try different teachers before choosing one (or a few).
We recommend you take a few sessions with different teachers to experience different teaching styles. Most students try TWO to FOUR teachers before choosing a long-term teacher that fits their learning needs.
What other experienced language learners say about choosing an italki teacher
- Benny Lewis: How to find the right teacher for online language lessons
- Olly Richards: 12 Steps to Finding Your Perfect Language Teacher Online
- Josh Plotkin: How to Pick The Right Teacher on italki
If you are still having problems finding a teacher, send a message to us at support and we'll help you find one!