Introducing The New italki Teacher Site

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306 comments

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    Alexander

    I wholeheartedly think that these upcoming changes will have a severe negative impact on teachers, students and Italki itself.
    Firstly, removing 45-minute lessons and 90-minute lessons is unnecessary and, in my opinion, quite foolish, as many students prefer 45-minute sessions and refuse, either because of the price or because of the duration, to book 60-minute lessons. Based on my experience (I have been teaching here for more than two years), students aren't confused at all by the system, thus removing them makes no sense at all.
    Secondly, renaming Informal Tutoring to Conversation Practice seems quite inapproriate, as for many teachers conversation is merely one part of the lesson and during each lesson there's a great deal more that teachers do. It is not just "conversation".
    Thirdly, regarding Instant Tutoring. While I personally haven't used it much, I've spoken with many students and teachers who have told me that Instant Tutoring is an invaluable opportunity for anyone with an unpredictable and busy schedule.
    Finally, the website layout and overall features. When I first joined Italki, I found the website quite simple and easy to use. The recent updates have made it more confusing, slower and more troublesome. This new update, I feel, will make it even worse and will probably put off teachers and students alike from joining the website. I would recommend leaving the website in its current state.

    I ask you to delay this update or at least reconsider some changes. I love Italki but I greatly dislike these changes and I may decide to teach elsewhere should they come into effect.

    Kindest regards,
    A deeply concerned teacher.

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    Aura オーラ

    With the new teach.italki.com, will the messaging system be improved at all? There have been many complaints about the new messaging system since it was implemented, so I'm hoping that it will be improved. Even though some time has gone by since it was implemented and I've had to spend time using it, I still prefer the previous messaging system.

    I do agree that there could be some improvements made to instant tutoring, but to say that "Instant Tutoring will be removed and will be replaced with a new and improved feature in the future," how long is in the future? I don't understand why instant tutoring needs to come to a complete halt until the newer one is implemented.

    "45 minute and 90 minute lesson durations will be removed due to low demand and to simplify the lesson booking process." Low demand isn't the same as no demand. There is no loss from offering these. And how does removing these simplify the process? Giving people more choices is too complicated and they can't make a decision? Leave the option for 45-minute and 90-minute sessions available for those who want it, and for those who don't, well, I think they are quite capable of not choosing those options if they don't want to choose them. There is nothing that needs to be "simplified."

    The lesson category option for informal tutors sounds like it might be beneficial, but I'll need to try it out first. I don't know why the name of informal tutoring needs to be changed to conversation practice though... and if there is an option for lesson categories, I think leaving the name of informal tutoring would be better.

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    Elisabeth

    As a student who has taken 134 lessons on Italki, most of which were 45-minute lessons, I'm very disappointed by the decision to remove the option for 45-minute lessons. For me, that's the perfect lesson length. I don't see how it improves anything to take away that option. If the demand is low, who cares? Nobody is being forced to offer or take 45-minute lessons. Why not continue to give teachers the option to offer 45-minute lessons if they want to? I hope you will reconsider this decision, Italki. Otherwise, I may have to consider other platforms. 

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    Author Gina

    Not only does it look like several great features are being eliminated, but the NUMBER ONE teacher request – a complete Google CALENDAR SYNC feature – is not even mentioned!  If a new teacher site is being created, wouldn’t it make sense to add the feature that would enable teachers to conveniently schedule as many classes on the platform as possible? It seems like this would create the greatest advantage for teachers, students, and italki!

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    Ariana Zialcita

    I was surprised when I received an e-mail regarding these changes. I do not see the point of removing Instant Tutoring, 45-minute, and 90-minute lessons because it would be a no-win situation for everyone- the students, tutors, teachers, and iTalki. Different strokes for different folks- not all (new) students are confused with the booking process and not all students are alike, there are many students who are still willing to take 45-minute and 90-minute lessons, and there are impulsive students who just want to chat with a tutor or a teacher whenever they're available

    I have a couple of students who take Instant Tutoring with me because they simply don't have time to book lessons due to their hectic work schedule. It would be unfair for them if there would be no Instant Tutoring option at all. Instant Tutoring is also a way for teachers to meet new students and vice versa

    I have many students as well who enjoy scheduling 45-minute and 90-minute lessons with me. My students prefer these over the traditional 30-minute and 1-hour lessons because they think that 30 minutes and 1 hour aren't that enough because they're serious learners. They want more time to learn English and Filipino and it would be unfair if I would not cater to their needs

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    Alex

    I agree with the complaints of other community tutors and teachers. These changes are detrimental to our work, and may I point out that if you're trying to sabotage your own platform, you're making a pretty good job. Instant tutoring is so useful! I have lots of students missing lessons because of work and such, this is the perfect option for them, but now I cannot advise them to do that anymore, and I'll have no way to fill up my time when a student doesn't show up. I think you will loose students and teachers alike while instant tutoring is down, because the people using it precisely do it not to have to book a full lesson.

    Now, on something more constructive: if you really really believe that having different durations is confusing (which I strongly disagree with), why not make every lessons 50 minutes? It would leave time for teachers to have a break, and it would still shorten the duration for beginners. Most high school lessons in Belgium are 50-minute long, and I've found this a comfortable duration.

    Reconsider! And don't make unilateral decisions based on what you think is good, talk to us. If anything, this situation reveals a lack of communication.

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    Bianca (Edited )

    To set the lesson duration should be up to the people who offer their services - the teachers and tutors.

    45 min are an absolute must, and why remove 90 when there are people who use them? The same shame for removing instant tutoring. I don't use it but I see the value. Don't you?

    And on top of all, we are being informed the whole of 5 days ! in advance. Did you inform the students as well? If so, there might be a rush to book the 45 min as long as they are available... and then?

    The last months and their updates have one overall tone> drive people away< what a suicidal business model

    It's becoming crystal clear that the people who run this website have no idea of how the teaching and learning on it work. And the response to our constructive feedback is naught. It's absurd.

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    Anastasia

    I agree with many teachers and students here. Instant tutoring is so good and helpful thing for using and yes I have some students who use only this kind of the lessons. It's so comfortable - the student can try to study with me so fast, I found so many regular students this way(((( And I think the informal tutoring is not just conversational practice! I use textbooks, prepare 85% of the lessons as grammatical, many students come with 0 knowledge about the language.

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    Amy Whitney (Edited )

    Wow italki, I'm so disappointed in how this idea is being rolled out and honestly scared about how this will affect 100% of my students, my business and livelihood. 

    I have two main issues (relating to my own teaching):

    • 45-minute lesson times being removed
    • NO Beta testing or feedback about policy changes for the teachers. 

    Currently, 100% of my students are taking 45-minute lessons. Why? Because:

    • All of my students take professional lessons which need preparation time as well as time to document the lesson tasks covered and what to do in the next lesson.
    • I am not a machine. I need to have a drink, eat, go to the bathroom and have a few minutes to between lessons to regain my focus and be at the top of my game between each class.
    • Consecutive 60 minute lessons are okay for teachers that don't have a full schedule, but working 7-8 hours without a break is impossible on a daily basis. Your top performing teachers that have high retention rates have full schedules for a reason. We are the people that keep students re-booking and coming back for months or years. 

     

    A note about the cost per lesson factor:

    If you remove 45-minute lessons, you are assuming falsely that all students can and will pay for a 60 minute lesson. I can guarantee that I will lose 75% of my students if I only have my 60 minute rate available. 

    • All students have a budget that they are comfortable with spending when they look for a teacher and pick one.  They picked me due to the price and the type of lessons I provide being a good fit. Changing the price significantly changes that equation. 
    • Italki itself warns teachers about not increasing their prices too sharply to avoid alienating the students with high prices. The increase should be gradual or the same price should be given to past students. How can I do that in this situation?
    • If your lesson price was $20 one day and $27 the next day, does that seem reasonable? --> I would leave the platform and seek a less expensive site AND be very disappointed that I couldn't continue studying with the teacher that I have grown to trust and look forward to learning with.  
    • If the student pays for a 60 minute lesson, they will expect a 60 minute lesson - which I cannot effectively provide for the reasons listed above.

     

    Second point: No Beta Testing or Feedback from the Teachers

    For months, you have been running a beta site for students to test it; however for teachers, we get an email with 5 days notice with a pile of changes that are going to rock our lives, business and current students without asking a single question? 

    We all appreciate italki as a platform but the appreciation doesn't feel mutual. I feel like italki thinks of their teachers as employees rather than skilled, independent freelancers that italki has an agreement with to mutually benefit by collecting a commission from us. The more successful the teachers are (and the tools you give us to be successful), the more profitable everyone is.

     

    Other thoughts:

    • Cancellation Policy: If you are changing the 24 hour minimum booking time to 12 hours, I have no problem with a 24 hour cancellation policy. However, if you are keeping the policy the same where 24 hours prior to the lesson is the minimum and 24 hours to schedule a new lesson is the minimum - I am not okay with this. I have a 36 hour cancellation policy just in case I have to enforce it with students that chronically take time in my schedule and cancel within 24 hours leaving empty times in my schedule that would have been filled (I have 7-10 wait times for lessons on average).

     

    • Instant Tutoring: This is a tool that students love. My husband also teaches on italki and he uses this feature when he needs to attract new students. 50% of the time, students are so excited that they just signed up and they want a lesson NOW. Often times, they like the teacher and will book regular lessons. The other 50% lead crazy lives and CANNOT schedule a lesson. They know they only have time to student in the moment. The instant tutoring is good for both situations. 

    Updated Teacher Policies: Does this mean that we are expected to accept a lesson within 24 hours?

    • Respond promptly, within one business day, to private messages from the Student.
    • Respond promptly, within one business day, to any inquiry from Customer Service.

    PLEASE listen to the comments from your teachers and considering delaying this launch date!! It seems to me that italki is eager to launch the new thing they've developed but I'm certain that most of us would prefer to wait 6 months to have all the features developed that are still lacking (ie. multiple lesson lengths and instant tutoring) and have a smooth transition.

    Can't you just launch it in Beta and get real feedback before making such huge changes? We are still dealing with the disaster of a message system :( This doesn't only annoy teachers, it's super annoying for students that have notifications activated on their phone. Who needs 8 notifications for 1 lesson?

     

    PS. I tried to load the new teacher site and it's not even loading correctly... (it's been like this since I started typing the message here).

    Edit: Upon further inspection of the new site. I am unable to login to make the changes they are requesting us to make on the profile. Every link I click is leading to a page that won't load or a 404 page not found error. This site does not seem ready to launch. 

     

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    Alisa

    Wow, how disapointing. I used to always praise italki as an excellent service for both - students and teachers. And I'm trying to think about it as a joke. I have many Russian students kids who are having 45 classes in their normal school and they got used to such duration. As well as I often took 45 classes myself as most of them were quite pricey if to book a longer class.
    I'm very much confused about re-naming the informal tutoring to the conversation practice as... Let's be honest it puts a big shade on what I am doing here and why my students like me here. I don't know about others but I barely had any conversation practise for 2 years, when I only needed to speak with student without any preparation (it is what an conversation practise), instead I work hard to prepare interesting material and exercises for my students based on their needs or speaking abilities for an actually very decent price. I was really happy working in this platform as rules were mild and fair towards the teachers (which is not very common for any online teaching platforms) but now... Will it mean that my classes will be only booked just because I can speak and listen English? Not because I actually can teach it?..hope for the better.

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    Austin Feldkamp

    This isn't ok! The majority of my students every week take advantage of 45 minute lessons! They're not going to switch to 1 hour lessons. They'll most likely switch to 30 minute lessons. This is going to cut my profit AS WELL AS ITALKIS PROFIT. This is the most distressing part of this news.

    Informal Tutoring is not just conversational practice. I have done accent coaching, homework assistance, etc during these informal Tutoring sessions. I think changing the name will be somewhat misleading

    I have never used the instant tutoring option. I have tried it but I didn't get any classes. However, I do see why this is a valuable asset to many people. It's a shame to remove it if you don't have something ready to replace it immediately.

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    Holly Jensen

    I am sure that the engineers and the rest of the team have been working hard to get this site up and running. However, I am shocked, to use a word from a colleague, and very saddened by these changes. I haven't offered anything more than 30 and 60-minute lessons in a while, but can definitely see the benefit of the longer and shorter ones. My greatest sadness and feeling of upset is regarding Instant Tutoring. I had seriously been thinking about taking some instant lessons in the future, and have used the feature to make extra money, as well as attract new students. I can only hope the new feature comes along soon and that it is truly better. I don't completely agree that there is zero communication with teachers, but it does seem as though there is a break-down somewhere. I want to consider both sides, as I know running this type of site is not an easy thing, but my over-all feelings are sadness, confusion, and a bit of frustration. Thank you.

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    Cathy Canada

    I've never felt strongly enough to write on the forum regarding a change, but this time, I am left so concerned that I feel like I must join my fellow teachers.

     

    Please do not remove the 45-min option.

    I too, don't see how removing the 45- and 90- minute options make anything less confusing. Many young learners NEED this option. Yes, we do get less demand for this option, but just like what another teacher has said, low demand doesn't mean NO demand. Many of my loyal young students opt for 45 minutes, and it's perfect for them. 

     

     

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    Sara (Edited )

    I seem to recall italki trying to get rid of the 90-minute option years ago, and then quietly reinstating it.  Am I going mad, or are they?

     

    Edit: they are.  Teacher Newsletter 09/15:

    Courses: Only offering 30, 45, and 60 minute sessions

    Since students rarely book 90 or 120 minute sessions, on September 22, 2015we will discontinue 90 and 120 minute sessions. Don’t worry: sessions that are booked before September 22, 2015 will not be affected.




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    Luciana Pegoraro

    @Sara, I also remember they said 90-minute lesson would disappear, but it never happened.

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    Sara

    Didn't it happen at all, Luciana?  I thought they did disappear for a while, then came back.  Anyway, as the saying goes: madness is repeating the same action and expecting different results. :)

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    Lucas

    The plight of the Community Tutor

    I thank and respect everyone who has posted here to protest these unjust measures, but I want to especially thank those people who point out how bad renaming Informal Tutoring (a perfect term) to Conversation Practice would be for Community Tutors like me. I know not everyone here is a Community Tutor, but Italki is putting the future of Informal Tutoring in danger with this particular measure. This would be more than a cosmetic change. It harms our ability to work with this site, probably the only one where people without all kinds of certificates are not shunned and have a fair chance to show and develop their qualities as mentors and teachers. Some of us were less lucky in life (like me with my health) and cannot become the professional teachers we would perhaps like to be, others may just enjoy complementing a different kind of life with a bit of teaching and working with motivated and respectful students. Italki as it is still helps us live our passion without all kinds of mean barriers. However, will this end? Maybe even gradually? This news is not making me optimistic.

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    Mike

    In the last 7 days I taught 6 45-minute lessons. That's just over 17 percent of my business for the week, which is typical. Elimination of the 45-minute option is the only change likely to affect me directly. My worry is that students who view a particular teacher's 60-minute rate as too high, will now avoid them altogether. The 45-minute option allows a student to justify or rationalize choosing a slightly more expensive teacher. I am not convinced that 30 minutes provides the same incentive, though my numbers over the next month or two could prove me wrong.

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    Austin Feldkamp

    Also, nobody gets "confused" with the 30, 45, 60, and 90 minute options.
    Maybe 90 min sessions have low rate of booking, but I don't believe for a single second that the 45 min sessions have a low rate of booking.
    You guys are just getting rid of the 45 min sessions to try to force people to book 60 min sessions and therefore generate more money.
    This will not happen. As a matter of fact, it will be problematic. Many of our students are also in college, in other countries where the income is considerably less, etc. They're going to switch to a 30 min lesson before they would switch to a 60 min lesson.
    Also, many teachers cannot sit in front of the computer for 3-4+ hours straight. We need that 15 min break in there.
    If this happens, people are going to begin to advertise their 60 min sessions at a 45 min price, then finish the lesson in 45 min and end at the :45 mark, so then even though it's coded as a 60 min lesson, the duration and price of the session is still at the 45 min level. It would make sense if this were to happen at least for regular students that we already have.

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    Sara

    I wish italki would share their data on what 'low demand' actually means.  Looking at the packages I have active at the moment, 53% are of 60 minute lessons, 40% of 45 minute lessons, and I have none at all of 30 minute lessons. 

    Of lessons this week, both package and individual, I have: 47% 60 minute lessons, 32% 45-minute lessons, and 10.5% each 30 and 90 minute lessons.  

    I guess I am unrepresentative, given italki's assertion of low demand and Mike's 17% 45-minute lessons above, but it would be nice to see what italki's actual numbers are.

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    Fredo

    ITALKI!!! 

    Uncomfortable teachers, and uncomfortable students is not a good idea for the platform!

    Please listen to the people that make this being the best learning platform on the Internet.

    • Removing instant tutoring? Seriously?

    Is that good for you? Is that a problem to keep growing?
    Does this help your students that have no time to schedule a lesson because they're too busy and want to keep learning whenever they have the time?

    • Now, forcing them to have 30 mins or 60 mins only? I think 45 minutes is an important option, so teachers can have a brief break between classes and be 100% to give a nice teaching experience, so the students may want to come back and keep scheduling lessons = MONEY FOR YOUR PLATFORM!

    Is that a problem for you? or it is costing you money offering instant tutoring or the 45 minutes lesson? which I think it's not affecting you but that decision will affect us as teachers and will affect our students = THEY WILL FIND EASIER AND FLEXIBLE WAYS TO LEARN = NO MONEY FOR THE PLATFORM.

    I think is not that hard to understand, so I hope you reconsider these changes and think about the people that make this platform exist and be one of the best learning options by now.

    Don't mess up the great service that you have created by now.

    Do you want to make some changes in the benefit of the whole community?

    OK, why don't you try these changes first:

    • Since the update of the notifications on the messages inbox, I have been struggling with the message service, not being able to read my students' messages because of the loads of unnecessary notifications that I receive.
    • Why don't you create a special option designed only for notifications and stop mixing them with the messages that sometimes we're not able to read?

    PLEASE GUYS!, LISTEN TO YOUR PEOPLE.

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    Lucas

    I would just like to add one ethical note, especially in support of professional teachers:
    as you can see from all the people here who seem worried about their financial situation after such changes would take effect...,

    ... Italki really has to become conscious of the financial, social and moral responsibilities of the business model they have. Italki offers people a way to make money teaching online and many end up having the website as a major source of income. Italki makes money with this as a middle man and actively encourages people to use this website to make money.
    That's fine. People accept paying a middle man to make money, because they need to make money to survive. And this is not the easiest profession when you need to make ends meet. These people are not lawyers, architects, doctors, etc. In any case, Italki offers them a service and many, not all, become dependent on that service for being able to live.

    That means you cannot suddenly, wildly change all kinds of rules in the ''social contract'' you have with these people. These people depend on 45 min lessons or even 90 min lessons, on instant tutoring, they particularly use 45 min lessons to be able to get breaks in their daily schedule, etc etc. Please take your responsibilities seriously. This is more than a hobby website for enthusiasts. You actively propagate a business model and that means you need to be ethical about the people who you make dependent on you.

    I am personally not dependent on this website for my income, but as you can see in this thread, many have this as their profession, and their rights need to be respected and defended.

     

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    David

    Play Italki at their own game. Advertise that if students want 45 minutes, they can book 60 minutes but you just change the price after.

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    Camille

    I am writing a second message because the more I think about it and the more I realise how much of a neagtive impact taking away 45 minutes lessons will have on my teaching style.

    As many of my colleagues I beg you to please please PLEASE consider not taking away our dear 45 minutes lessons.

    We do need it as teachers; and our students do need it as learners.

     

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    Derry Bryant

    Is italki going to inform all my students that they can no longer book 45 minute lessons? They will be pretty upset about it.. I am a student on italki, as well as a teacher, and no-one from italki has told me yet that I can't book 45 minute lessons. When are you going to inform the students?

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    Altini (Edited )

    After about 6 years on Italki, seeing various changes, this is the worst change I have yet to see. Please consider all of the other comments. This is not a good idea and I agree with the other comments. Italki is fine as is. This obsession with constantly trying to improve is excessive and not welcome. I miss the older version of Italki and so do many of my students. PLEASE CONSIDER DISCUSSING WITH TEACHERS PRIOR TO MAKING SUCH DRASTIC CHANGES.

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    Guyomar

    Students are currently not aware that they won't be able to book 45- and 90-minute lessons. They don't know that instant tutoring won't be available. They are unaware of these changes. I hope italki notifies them so that they don't think teachers just suddenly decided to stop offering options on a whim.

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    Guyomar

    Altini, the odd thing about the obsession with "improving" and updating the website doesn't seem to be about making genuinely helpful and useful changes that would benefit teachers and students. It seems to be about updating for the sake of it, or controlling the way we teach more. I was attracted to italki for the flexibility it offered.

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    Liza

    Removing 45 min lessons is an extremely bad idea. They're the most conveniet for a lot of students and teachers and allow a teacher a 15 minute break. Otherwise we either have to keep talking for hours without a pause or make half hour breaks (which is ridiculous and a waste of time) or ask students to start a few minutes later just so we can take a breath between back to back lessons. Which is also not good. Sometimes there are troubles with connection or other reasons why we can't start or finish on time and having those 15 minutes really helps, it allows for more flexibility. The reason I chose Italki as a student and then as a teacher was because it was very convenient. Now, after messed up notifications and messaging system and after removal of 45 lessons the platform seems less and less suitable for my needs. 

    It would have been great if you asked people who are affected by changes before making such decisions.

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    Dalia (Edited )

    I agree with what other tutors and teachers have said, especially with regard to removing 45-minute lessons and calling "Informal Tutoring" "Conversation Practice" instead.

    • Please don't remove the 45-minute option. As others have pointed out, this option is used by many students. (Some of my own students only use the 45-minute option.) Some students don't have the budget to afford one-hour lessons, but would like to spend more time than 30 minutes. None of my students were ever confused by the 45-minute option. Removing it will force them to choose between 30 minutes and one hour, and so they might leave italki as a consequence--which means less profit for me and you, italki.
    • As others have pointed out already, "Informal Tutoring" involves more than simply "Conversation Practice." For some students, that might be the case, but for others, it means giving explanations and answering questions.

    Please consider my complaints, as well as those of other tutors and teachers, or we might be forced to leave this platform.

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