Introducing The New italki Teacher Site

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308 comments

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    Accent Coach Melinda

    45 minute lessons are so valuable, as stated by many people above.  Many of my students use this option, and I enjoy the 15 minute break afforded by this option.  At many price points charged by teachers, it will be quite a stretch for many students to jump up to 60 minutes from 45, so they will drop down to the 30 minute option.  I don't think this is an intended consequence of this change, but it is what will happen, diminishing the teachers' salaries as well as italki's revenue.

    As as student, I look for 45 minute lessons, because 30 minutes is too short but by 60 minutes my brain is melting.

    It has always been a drawback of italki's use of 60 minutes as the 'gold standard' in that teachers who teach a lot then have no down time or break time in their schedules, which can and will lead to reduced quality of teaching and services over time if back-to-back-to-back lessons are the norm. An earlier suggestion to go to 50 minute lessons is well taken.  (And it follows to go to 25 minute lessons instead of 30 minutes, as well. Most teachers would SO appreciate a 5 minute break between sessions)

    Requiring teachers to sit and wait for the entire lesson for a student to show up is counterproductive, no one in the world does that. At italki, do you wait an hour for a colleague who is late for a scheduled meeting? No, you wait 10 or 15 minutes and then realize there's a problem and they either forgot about it or had a situation that prevented them from coming. 15 minutes of waiting for a 60 minute lesson is more than sufficient.  

    Instant Tutoring is a unique feature of the italki experience, and I hope the new and improved experience is...Instant Tutoring!

    As many people have noted, sometimes informal tutoring is just that, casual review of concepts, pronunciation practice, etc., and it's not always just conversation practice.

    Maybe creating a Teacher's Committee made up of both your most experienced and newest teachers to run these ideas by before implementing them is a good idea.

     

     

     

     

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    Saeede Mrt

    I don't see the point of all these changes. To me "improving" means more flexibility. I think teacher/student satisfaction is being overlooked on italki. You need to consider (at least) experienced teachers' opinion on these changes.

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    Amy Whitney

    @Accent Coach Melinda You brought up a point I would LOVE to have which is a 50. I find I already offer this with my 45-minute lessons but it gives the best of both worlds. A break for the teachers and a clear expectation from the students about how much time they will have the lesson for. 

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    Tess W

    I agree with pretty much everything I've read here. Removing the 45-minute lesson seems to be universally disliked. Ending instant tutoring with no firm assurances of when it will return, or in what form, is also a big blow to many of us. I can't understand why italki would decide to do these things without checking that its teachers and students think they are a good idea. Why not have some consultation? We are professionals, providing a professional service, but you are taking away our flexibility. I think we will all lose as a result of these changes. PLEASE listen to your users and reconsider.

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    Guyomar

    I just noticed that teachers are now required to be online the whole block-off time, waiting for the student to show up, even if we receive no communication that the student is late or going to show up at all.

    This puts all the responsibility to show up on time on the teacher, and none at all on the student to be respectful of others' time, show up as scheduled, or say that they're not going to be there. Absolutely ZERO responsibility for the student to, very least, communicate they can't be there exactly at time planned or at all. 

    This is very unfair to the teacher, because it communicates to the student that our time isn't valuable and that they can just treat us disrespectfully by showing up any time they like, and having us be there, like dogs answering to a bell. Ridiculous.

    As for me, since I am now forced to be online for someone who (in most cases, based on experience) is never going to show up, it's going to make me stricter :

    1) I will charge for any no-shows, when in the past, I might have been flexible, given that I could use the time left over after 15 minutes of courtesy waiting to do something else.

    2) I will not be flexible about ending late. If I'm expected to block off the whole hour for a student who is going to waltz in 20 minutes late because they feel like it, then NO, I will not end later than the scheduled time, ever, because it seems to me that all the accommodations are being made for students with no consideration for teachers. If we're going to be forced to sit around waiting for a tardy student for a whole hour, I don't see why we should give even more of our time, beyond what we were paid for.

    This is extremely unfair to us as professionals.

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    Cesar

    Hi, i just wanted to suggest.. why don't make surveys with us tutors in order to know what would we consider an improvement, i just can't see how come the 45 min lesson could affect anyone, or removing it would simplify things, so far my students have been pretty smart and know the difference between 30, 45 and 60 min :p just saying)))

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    Jenny Davies

    So I've sent a full email of my concerns to iTalki that I won't rehash here but I wholeheartedly agree with my colleagues about the disaster that's awaiting us with the removal of the 45 minute lesson option and the re-jigging of the Instant Tutoring. I'm struggling to understand why these changes are deemed as necessary.

     

    I'd like to concur with @Lucas who describes the relationship that we teachers have with iTalki as a social contract. This is an excellent point and put into words what I was having difficulties doing. This website is a middleman website where they get a cut of the profit, quite reasonably, for the work that we put in. We're not your employees, iTalki, we're freelancers and you can't just change the terms of our contract unilaterally.

     

    The change that I am most concerned with is the requirement that we are now expected to wait the full length of the lesson time for students who have neither the courtesy nor the manners to show up on time, or to let us know that they won't be available. @Accent Coach Melinda and @Guyomar make excellent points here. The onus is being placed on the teachers to be on time and available for the students' convenience without any regards for our expertise and our time. I agree with Guyomar: now that I'm being made to wait all this time, my flexibility on refunds is going to completely disappear regardless of the reason behind the student's absence. I will be making sure that I'm being paid for this time and I'm sure it's going to cost me some students but I won't have my time wasted like this. As Accent Coach Melinda says, 15 minutes is more than enough time to wait for a 60 minute lesson.

     

    I am really disappointed with these changes and whilst I do rely on iTalki for my income, I am also going to be looking for other platforms to teach from because a company that completely disregards its teachers (the main source of income) is not someone I want to be working with. Let's not forget, without us teachers, you wouldn't be able to make any money.

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    Amy Whitney (Edited )

    Well, I just had my last 2 students concerned about the 45-minute lessons being removed because they already received an email from italki telling them the 45-minute lesson and instant tutoring will be removed. Uncertainty from the student would be the how I describe it.  

    I told both students that I would find a solution to accommodate them once I knew what the options were. Unfortunately, the new site isn't up and running, so give them a solid answer about what I can offer them. 

    For those of you that didn't receive it, this is what it says (the student forwarded it to me):

    Hi,

    We’re writing to let you know that we will be making some changes to italki which may affect you. These changes will come into effect on 2nd April 2019.

    Instant Tutoring will be removed and will be replaced with a new and improved feature in the future.

    45 minute and 90 minute lesson durations will be removed due to low demand and to simplify the lesson booking process. Scheduled lessons and incomplete Lesson Packages will not be affected.

    In order to reduce confusion and to protect both teachers and students, we are updating italki’s Teacher Policy and Teacher Code Of Conduct and removing individual cancellation policies that were previously optional.
    Best wishes,

    The italki Team

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    Michał

    Hello. Every lesson I got so far was 45 minutes and I liked it. I was giving to my teacher opportunity to take a breath between lessons and most of the time to extend it if there was no such need. Removal of this doesn't make a sense to me and doesn't bring anything good. And implementation of changes in such a short notice? This should be announced at least a month before!

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    Евгений (Eugene)

    I have a student who regularly takes 90 minute lesson packages. If you remove this option I think he will switch to 60 min and it will decrease my income. In my opinion it would be better if you switched to 30, 45, 55, and 85 minute lessons.

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    David

    I agree Eugene, but we have campaigning for those lesson lengths for years. Unfortunately Italki takes no notice of teacher requirements.

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    Austin Feldkamp

    I'm just now realizing that they're taking away out individual cancellation policies. Who do they think they are? As stated above, we are not Italki employees. We are individually functioning entities.

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    Samar (Edited )

    i can't understand why don't you leave this version as it is without any changes?

    please leave the classic version 

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    Ingrid

    This is terrible... I always book 90-minute lessons. Please do not take away our choices.

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    David

    I'm just going to get my regular 45 minute students to book with me outside Italki and pay me on Paypal. I don't work for Italki, so I'm not going to follow their nonsensical rules.

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    Adam

    I have read most of the comments so far, and agree that dropping the 45 minute and 90 minute lessons is not appropriate, with both for its short notice and the lack of sensibility.

    As a teacher that works outside italki in person, I know the value of the break in between students to prepare for the next.  45 is an excellent balance to suit many students and teachers for many reasons, and their is evidence in school situations all over the world why 45 minutes from a concentration span point of view is a good thing, especially for teaching children.  Likewise, the 90 minute option is great for a really solid session of intense inquiry into a language learning area for those who can sustain it.  I find that 60 minutes can at times be too short, but understand why students need to compromise for cost reasons.  In fact I have recommended that sessions of one hour a day if down daily or near daily is better than longer sessions less frequently because the educational outcomes and concentration is so much better.  On the other hand, 90 minutes say once a week is also powerful, and allows adult learners especially to engage more deeply in a topic, say in engaging in exchanging writing and editing a text as writing practice, and then reading it back as I have done.

    Please leave the flexibility to let teachers do their job and make sensible choices to best meet students' needs.  That's what we do as a profession.  The site as it is, is commendable, but chopping the options is not good.  I would request to reverse the decision to drop the 45 and 90 minute options.

    Note: Informal Tutoring does not mean slack non-professional session!  This is not "conversation practice" only.  It is intelligent teaching operating at a subtle and dynamic level, without necessarily having a unit of sequenced lessons prepared for the student.  The informal part of the description is really only saying that the teacher is not going through a process of prior assessment of students' needs, but instead is responding professionally as per what the student expresses as their request for assistance on the day.

    In terms of having teachers operate through a new portal in itself may make sense from a software platform point of view, but changing the features for the student is not good in terms of what is proposed.

    I recommend the instant tutoring feature should remain.  The only difference between a scheduled lesson and instant tutoring is that both a teacher and the student are agreeing to the short notice periods to request and respond within.  The standby element is understood by both sides.  It should also remain as video based or phone only by choice to suit the teacher and student.   Student's sometimes focus their camera on a text so a teacher can see what the student is reading from.  Again, instant tutoring is a flexibility choice that is best left to the student and teacher.

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    Nickie

    Four days notice is not enough. I hope you will do better for other teachers in the future. Given these changes, especially the cancellation policy, I will be terminating a part-time job I loved.

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    Horacio (Edited )

    Well, I hope you listen too! we listen and now it is your time!  I think you make the calendar in 15mins increments... instead of having lets say in hour 2 slots, you will have 4 slots... so we can book at times like 9.15, or 9.45, and not always at 9.:00 or 9.30, 10.00 you are missing the potential of 9.15, and 9:45... that way a teacher can work more hours...with some pauses.

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    Susannah

    I am in total agreement with those that say that the instant tutoring feature needs to remain.  One of the main reasons is that students often use this instant tutoring when they don't actually want to talk, but when they need someone to look through a resume or perhaps proofread an application or help them with other proofreading tasks. They do this so that they don't end up taking a time that might normally be reserved for another student. I think that you should keep instant tutoring and, in addition, consider adding a section where students could request proofreading services for those that need some assistance, but don't always have time to sit in front of a screen for an hour. 
    Even if the 45-min sessions don't appear to be widely used, you can see by these many comments that teachers do want these sessions and you should respect the teachers because, frankly, we are the reason you have any type of revenue. 45 minutes is an excellent time duration because it allows the teachers to rest between sessions. Also, for some of the beginner students talking for 30 minutes seems too short and talking for an hour seems a bit overwhelming. 45 minutes is the perfect medium. 
    Changing Informal Tutoring to Conversation Practice. No. Bad idea. Informal tutoring consists of so much more than just conversation practice. The term Conversation Practice makes it seem like we do no preparation at all. We just show up at our computers and chat a bit. Ummmmm....no. We know the students' specific needs. Even if we are having a conversation, I and I'm sure many other teachers are finding/creating materials, preparing questions, and doing a great deal of work to prepare for these sessions. Also, these sessions include much more than just conversation practice. We may be helping to proofread materials, helping students prepare for job interviews, or going through newspaper articles, or reading books, etc. I understand wanting to change the term, Informal Tutoring, but Conversation Practice is not the right option. Perhaps Conversation Practice should be a category for teachers that want it, but it shouldn't replace "Informal Tutoring".    

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    Saunatina

    Adding my voice to the chorus of disappointment at italki ignoring teachers once again.

    These updates will go through because we teachers don't have any control in this situation beyond walking away. Unless they lose a good number of teachers after this update, of course. 

    I'm walking away. I'm canceling my current packages and explaining to my students that I can't work with a company that doesn't treat our professional relationship respectfully.

    I love the students I've worked with over the years and have learned from some great teachers. I'm going to miss this site. I worked on a special project for italki and found that there is no interest in the corporation actually listening to teachers. The individual employees I worked with were great, but the peek behind the scenes gave me no hope for staying on.

    The only major feature teachers have been begging for since it was possible was 2-way sync with Google Calendar and italki just ignores it update after update. That's what you can keep hoping for.

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    Susannah (Edited )

    The individual cancelation policies need to stay. These allow the students to get to know the teacher more and to understand their expectations. 
    Italki needs to realize the importance of listening to the teachers. In the past (2013), I might have had as many as 20 or more lessons per week scheduled on italki. The majority of my students have chosen to work directly with me and leave italki. They were on italki for maybe a year or less. Many have been with me for close to 6 years. I never told them that they had to leave. They chose themselves and my students and I have an amazing connection. So, it was an honor to keep teaching them. 99% of my student have chosen to leave italki. Now, I have many lessons per week, but maybe only one is on italki.  
    Students don't love the website. They love the teachers. If teachers go, the students are going to follow them. 

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    Glenn Specht

    There seem to be two different threads talking about these issues... the other one is here  https://support.italki.com/hc/en-us/community/posts/360029149393-Introducing-The-New-italki-Teacher-Site?page=1#community_comment_360004577113

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    Hannah

    Removing the cancellation policy and stating teachers need to wait the entire class time is a joke. It is incredibly disrespectful of the teacher's time. Should we expect the student to wait 35 mintues for us and then just compensate for the lateness? 🙄

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    Travis Bryson

    I book many 90 minute lessons, please don't remove this option from iTalki.  There is absolutely nothing confusing about different lesson length options.  

    As a student, I support almost all of the comments by teachers I have seen posted here.

     

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    David

    Why Italki!!  Have you decided to make a perfectly good platform worse and informing us mere days before implementing these quite major structural changes with the platform which do NOT benefit the student or teacher??

    Most of these changes are not improvements.  I agree with the comments left by the other teachers.  I used Instant Tutoring at times, it is a useful and convenient option if you want to help students with informal conversational practice and to teach more lessons obviously if you have spare time, or when your plans change unexpectedly.  When will it return and in what form and why remove it, you will loose money this way in the meantime?  How it is a positive thing, it is not logical?

    For me, a 90 minute lesson is too long, students have never booked a lesson of that length with me, but that does not mean it is not useful or popular with other students or teachers.   However, what is disappointing is removing 45 minute lessons.  You state: "This is to simplify the lesson booking process, particularly for new students."  This is simply not true.  45 minute lessons are popular. What is confusing with booking a 45 minute lesson?  It can be the perfect length for some students.  30 minutes is too short and 1 hr can be too long, I found it to be a good length to help students with their English.

    Also you state it is for new students, what about students that have used this platform for while; 1 year, 2 years and so on?  I expect they will be disappointed with this change and will simply have to 'round down' the lesson to 30 minutes, instead of an hour, because it is too long for some students who are busy, or usually they can't afford an hour lesson - obviously, or an hour is too long for their attention span.  So again, you will loose money this way.  That is not good :(

    Also you state: "In order to reduce confusion and to protect both teachers and students, we are updating Italki’s Teacher Policy and Teacher Code Of Conduct and removing individual cancellation policies that were previously optional."

    This update includes:

    "Waiting for a student. Teachers should wait for the student until the lesson end time. The teacher should be available to start the lesson at the time the student attends. If a student is late, we require that the teacher is available to start the lesson at the time the student attends. This is a new requirement which clarifies the responsibilities of both parties."

    It would have been good to ask teachers and students if they wanted these changes and if they were good ideas (to get feedback!) BEFORE rolling out these 'unimprovements', if such a word existed.  If I start to loose money and a decrease in students booking lessons with me because of these changes, students I have helped and known for months, simply because they do not like these new changes and they decide to migrate to another platform because it is more flexible and convenient for them, then I will ask them where they are going to.  As they say, healthy competition is a good thing.

    To put it simply, could you have just asked the users on this website if they preferred these alterations and then changed it accordingly based on feedback?  I'm fine with change, as long as it is an improvement.  Just some friendly advice.

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    Daniel Ekpo-Bassey

    All the Changes are unnecessary.  Informal Tutoring isn't just conversation practice. You should have surveyed the teachers before making these changes, literally no teacher thinks these changes are good. You obviously don't care about the people using your service.

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    Nora (Edited )

    1. Teachers need breaks between lessons. It is extremely difficult to teach one lesson after another without any break in between to get materials ready and make sure everything is working. 25 and 50 minutes would be perfect. 

    2. Italki teachers have almost universally disapproved of all recent updates (messaging system, anyone?). Italki needs to hear our opinions before making big changes. There should be some kind of panel of teachers or Italki could send out a survey before making these changes. 

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    CJ Lee (Edited )

    I tend to agree with the majority of the Teachers who have posted here, but for what it's worth, here are my thoughts. (Bold print gets right to the point)

    • Instant Tutoring: TOTALLY AGREE with the comments of the teachers here... To see it disappear for any extended period of time is discouraging. As already mentioned, many students do, very much rely on instant tutoring for convenience. For teachers, its a useful supplement to our scheduled lessons when we have a little more energy or free time than expected.
    • Removal of 45 and 90-minute lessons: PersonalyI won't miss 90-minute lessons at all... I mostly agree [with iTalki] they are rarely used. On the other hand, someone must find them useful... why get rid of it? 45-minute lessons on the other hand... I too have several students that use them and I love it... As many have mentioned, the potential 15-minute break is very much welcomed in a back to back, just to get yourself refreshed and ready for the next hour (or more).

               As an extension to this point, some teachers have suggested 60-minute  lessons should be optional. I agree with that 100%.

    •  Informal Tutoring rebranding to Conversational Practice: Here is another instance where I agree with iTalki. I have found that some student either become confused about which lesson to take, whether it's to their benefit or detriment. Sometimes students will take an informal lesson when really they need to have chosen a more advanced lesson (which will likely have a higher price tag) or they chose the higher priced lesson when they really just want to conversate. I think the name change will help tremendously.

               One teacher mentioned the awkwardness of telling a student the lesson is really intended to be 55 min even though it clearly says, (60 minutes). I have the same problem for students who choose the wrong lesson. In so many words, I basically have to either tell them they should have paid more or I should just let it go, which is unfair to other students who pay for/choose the correct lesson.

                Finally, for those teachers who view (Informal Lesson) differently than just a "conversation", I see your point, however, it seems the definition of "informal" varies a bit. At the same time, I believe iTalki is upping the (Lesson Categories) giving teachers a chance to name and even further explain their idea of "Informal Lesson." I see this as a good thing.

    • Removing Individual Cancellation Policy: In some ways, I'm cool with this idea... As I have seen stated by other teachers, unless you put the policy in the lesson description, probably students never see it. Even if they do see it, the may or may not read it. Even if they do read it, they may or may not understand what they are reading. 

                If the option to post a policy is being removed however, I would like to see iTalki make it very cut and dry, black and white and plain. It can be difficult to tell a student they can't have their money back, but then ask/expect them to come back next week and subsequent weeks after that. Sometimes they understand. Other times, they don't.

                Finally, it would also be nice to have instant tutoring possible on the situation when students cannot make it to the lesson for one reason or another. Hoping that is addressed in the new format.

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    Christina

    About 90' lessons: I had a student who took 60+ of them in 3-hour daily sessions.

    Other students, who need 2h intensive courses but are too tired to remain focussed, prefer 90' lessons.

    I suppose if there were 120' lessons, many students would prefer them. 2 and 3 hour sessions are very common among my independent students. I was astonished by italki's data.

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    William

    I want to add my voice to all the other teachers who are unhappy at the loss of instant tutoring, removal of 45 minute lessons and the policy which stipulates we must wait for the student for the entire hour. It seems unfair - especially given the very short notice before implementation.

    How about italki develop technology to prompt students to state if they are late or won't show up? It's entirely possible to push emails/SMS/notifications to prompt a student in this way. If they respond, then the teacher/tutor is made aware. If they don't, then the lesson is considered missed. 

     

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