We started the 2015 italki Language Challenge by completing the first four hours. We still have 16 class hours to complete, but we wanted to share Diana’s experience doing something radically different: a native Spanish-speaker learning the local language from Spain and Mexico.
How To Use italki to Learn Real World Spanish
1. The first thing I did was browse for a teacher in the Informal Tutoring menu option. This option will give both: Professional Teachers and Community Tutors. I already decided that I wanted to learn more about the Spanish of two specific countries, so my parameters were:
• Teaches > Spanish
• Native Speaker > Yes!
• Also Speaks > English
• From > Spain / Mexico
2. This search gave me a list of many options. I narrowed it down by reading more and watching the introductory videos from the teachers that had a higher level of English fluency. I particularly was looking for teachers that -if I needed- could define some concepts, slang words or sayings in English.
3. Before scheduling any class, I sent messages to the teachers explaining my particular request of learning more about their slang and colloquial Spanish. I wanted to make sure that they were comfortable with a class like that before I scheduled it.
4. I was really surprised of the speed that the teachers responded to my messages. All, except for one, were willing to do a class with me about their local Spanish. Actually, one of the teachers wrote me back asking for more information in order to see if he was the right fit for my needs. I think this was absolutely awesome! That means that the teachers on italki are serious and sincere about what they can and can’t do.
5. I scheduled my classes within the next couple of days and used that time to prepare myself for the classes. To maximize your time in class, it is a good practice get ready for it ahead of time. I sat down and wrote my doubts, possible topics and questions to discuss.
What an italki class is like
So, if you are wondering what happens the day of your class, here is my experience:
1. You have to be online with Skype open minutes before class. Check that your camera works and use a headphone with mic. You won’t use the italki website during your class. The only use for italki as this point is to check your class time and your teacher’s Skype account name.
2. On Skype, you will receive a notification from your teacher to add him/her to your contacts. Usually, the teacher will write you on the Skype chat to ask you if you are ready to start the call.
3. The teacher can send you document files through Skype or use the chat/instant message option to teach you how words are spelled or send you links. One of my teachers sent me a document with links to videos that we watched together and discussed during the class. Another teacher used the chat to write each and every Spanish slang word we discussed.
4. If at some point a teacher cannot answer your question, most of the time they take notes and come back to you with an answer in a message, after your class. Teachers can communicate back with you: in a private message on italki, leave you a message on Skype or send you an email (if you gave it to him/her).
5. After you finish your class, you need to go to the italki website and confirm that the session was completed. You will also provide feedback about your class and teacher.
I really enjoyed this experience. In addition to the knowledge from native teachers, I got book recommendations (I already bought two) and even videos about their local Spanish.
Italki paid for our classes to complete the italki Language Challenge. All opinions are ours.