In this article, I will give you tips on how to be a great student on italki. I have completed more than 200 classes as a Thai student and haven’t had a bad experience.
I will give you tips on how to not be nervous if you have never taking a class before, what to expect from a teacher, and how to be prepared.
1. Message your teacher before your class and let him/her know your experience level and what you want to get out of the class.
I remember my first class on italki. I booked it a week in advance and felt nervous. It was my first online foreign language class ever.
When the teacher accepted the class, she also sent me a few questions such as “what is your level of Thai?”, “what are you trying to learn in the class (speaking, reading, etc)?” I filled this out and send it back and already felt a sense of relief. With this information, the teacher now knows what to expect from you and can prepare before the class.
Now, whenever I book a class with a new teacher, I send them information about my level and what I want to focus on. If it’s a teacher that already knows me then I just send a small message with what I want to focus on, whether it’s help reading an article, conversation practice, work on my tones, etc.
This way the teacher can also prepare a bit before your class. Expect the teacher to ask you questions.
2. Study and prepare before class
Whenever I book a class. I prepare notes or questions about what I want to focus on. For example, it could be an online article I was trying to read and some parts were unclear. I save the article and write down my questions. Or it could be new questions that popped up during the week.
Also, during class, you should be taking notes. Before your next class, you should spend some time reviewing everything you learned. This way during the next class, you and the teacher can hit the ground running. The teacher will be happy you have been reviewing and you can ask questions and reinforce what you learned.
Learning doesn’t just happen with the teacher, so make sure you are studying consistently outside of class if you really want to make progress.
3. Actively participate during class 🙋♀️
Don’t be a passive observer during class. If the teacher asks you a question, answer in complete sentences instead of just “Yes” or “no”. Not only do you get to practice the language more but it makes the class less boring. Don’t just have the teacher come up with every topic.
Ask the questions you prepared, ask any question that pops up during class.
Research topics you want to learn about and talk about them during class. For example, if I went hiking with my friends. I would research some vocabulary before class regarding hiking and I would try to tell my teacher a story of the trip. I would incorporate the new vocabulary.
I always like starting the class by talking about my day and listening to the teacher talk about their day. This is great practice of a conversation topic you will likely have all the time outside of class with native speakers.
4. Don’t be afraid of saying wrong things
As a language student, you will undoubtedly say a lot of wrong words and say sentences incorrectly. That is totally fine and 100% expected. This is precisely why you are having a class with the teacher.
If you hold back because you are afraid of saying something incorrectly, the class won’t flow as well and also you won’t learn as much as you could.
Also, don’t be afraid of asking the teacher “what?” and to repeat things. It’s normal that you won’t understand everything and teachers won’t take offense.
5. Choose the right teacher
The great part about italki is there are usually so many options to choose from.
I recommend watching the introduction video for many teachers, read reviews, and read the descriptions before picking a class.
Look for a teacher who mentioned similar interests as you, who looks to have a personality you get along with (whether it’s more serious, more funny, more casual, more professional, etc).
Some teachers might not speak your native language very well. This is not a problem for me, but for a complete beginner maybe you will feel more comfortable with a teacher who speaks your native language well. So choose according to what your preferences are.
6. Use a computer if possible
I highly recommend you take your classes using your laptop/computer instead of on your phone. This is because you will be more productive. You can quickly research words or google things.
Also, some teachers like to use a Google Doc to write down notes and using the bigger screen and being able to switch tabs, etc will make life much easier.
I hope these tips are help you feel confident and prepared to be a great student on italki.
Go to class prepared, ready to learn, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.
If you want to try out italki, use my referral link and you will receive a $10 credit.