italki is migrating our data to a new system! What it means for you…

January 15th, 2016 | Posted by Ivan in announcement | italki Team - (Comments Off on italki is migrating our data to a new system! What it means for you…)

On Monday, January 18th, the italki website will be undergoing maintenance approximately 5 hours and 20 minutes (From UTC 00:40 to UTC 06:00).

We apologize for the inconvenience, and want you to know that this interruption is necessary to implement several important changes to our data infrastructure. As we make changes to make our site function better and faster (as well as making it prettier and more user-friendly) we are also improving the infrastructure behind the site.

After this change, you can look forward to the following enhancements to the site:

  1. Our database infrastructure will be improved, meaning faster and more reliable performance from the site.
  2. Future maintenance and changes to the database infrastructure will not interrupt your access to the site.
  3. Overall, the system will be more resilient, meaning the site will be significantly less likely to experience interruptions.

Our data will now be housed in two separate places, allowing us to continually improve the performance of the site and service without interrupting your ability to schedule sessions and access your data. This will translate into faster implementation of the changes and improvements to the site, and should make your italki experience faster and easier.

We are constantly trying to improve the system, and there are loads of cool new things coming italki that will make your learning easier and more fun (at least from the technical side, as we haven’t discovered technology to download vocabulary and speaking practice directly into your brain… yet).

Thank you for bearing with us, and if you have any concerns or questions during this maintenance period, our support staff are standing by to help. Please use this form to create a service request, or write to our support staff directly: support@italki.com.

 

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italki 2016 New Year Language Challenge Public Pledge videos !

January 15th, 2016 | Posted by Kevin Z in Language Challenge | Motivation - (Comments Off on italki 2016 New Year Language Challenge Public Pledge videos !)

Don’t forget to sign up for yourself, this time is FREE! Get the New Year of to a great start! Life Hacks research has shown that if you put yourself up to something by making a public commitment, are likely to reach your goals because others are watching.  Use peer-pressure to your advantage! Help out your fellow language learners participating in the challenge!  Leave words of encouragement on their notebook entries!

Roman  from Russia is learning ASL(American Sign Language)

Roman is a member of Mobile App development team in italki. He has already completed previous italki Language Challenges and this time he’s going to discover the mysteries of ASL (American Sign Language)! The rest of our team enjoyed his public pledge video, so give him some support by leaving a quick message in his notebook.

Tay is learning Italian!

She’s been learning Italian for a year already and has set goals to master pronouns and carry on a conversation with a native speaker.  We have no doubt she will see lots of improvement in time for her to lead a tour to Italy!

 

Laeticia is learning Korean!

We have no doubt she’ll soon be ordering food like a champion and chatting all day on KakaoTalk with her friends in Korea!  Good luck!

Kai from Singapore is learning Korean!

 

Mamen  from Spain is learning Italian!

Mamen is a professional Spanish teacher on italki and she’s participating our New Year’s Language Challenge learning Italian!

 

Indran from Missouri, USA is learning Arabic!

He already has a lot of confidence while speaking!  Best of luck to Indran as he continues to improve his Arabic.

 

 

Alyssa is learning Slovene!

AND FRENCH!!!

Alyssa has studied French before but is worried she will forget her it if she doesn’t use it.  What a great opportunity to refresh skills she learned in the past!  Use it, so you don’t lose it!

 

Omar from Mexico City is learning Latin!

Omar already speaks fluent Spanish and English.  Now he has the dream to travel to Vatican City to attend and understand a mass with the Pope…given entirely in Latin!  Good luck, Omar!  Carpe Diem!

Hannah a.k.a. Océanne is learning Icelandic and Finnish

Hannah’s friends have been telling her about italki for a long time and she’s ready to join us.   Good luck learning Icelandic!  We look forward to seeing your progress!

 

Eileen is learning Portuguese!

Her goal is to speak fearlessly when talking to her tutor.  We have no doubt she will be chatting like a pro after our challenge!

 

Michaela from New Zealand is studying Hebrew and Arabic!

Good luck Michaela!  Your hard work is going to pay off!

Vera is working to improve her English!

Good job, Vera.  Your English is already very good, and it will continue to improve with this challenge.

Kevin is learning Urdu!

Wow, it already sounds great Kevin.  Keep up the good work!

 

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2016 New Year’s italki Language Challengers- Make a Public Video Pledge!

December 28th, 2015 | Posted by Iker in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on 2016 New Year’s italki Language Challengers- Make a Public Video Pledge!)

If you’ve signed up for the italki Language Challenge , here is a trick to motivate you to succeed!  Do you really want to complete the challenge?  Use peer pressure (in a good way) to help yourself achieve your language learning goal! Research has shown that if you put yourself up to something by doing it in public, you follow through because others are watching. Things that you put on the Web have a better chance of getting done!

How to Upload your Language Challenge Public Video Pledge

Make a Public Video Pledge by uploading a video to YouTube or Youku before you begin your first session (or your first few sessions).

Youtube video example:


Youku video example:

(more…)

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Learning a Language: It Takes a Village

December 3rd, 2015 | Posted by Ivan in Motivation | tips - (Comments Off on Learning a Language: It Takes a Village)

We live in an age of “being connected”. The number of smartphone users connected to the internet is expected to reach 6.1 Billion in the next 5 years. By this point in time, around 70% of the world’s population will have access to the internet (and the vast majority of human knowledge) in their pocket.

This constant connection is incredibly useful. From buying groceries, looking up a quick fact, getting directions, or speaking to someone on the other side of the world, this connectedness is convenient.

The convenience of online solutions to life’s problems necessarily touch language learning as well. Learning a language on your own can be a rewarding hobby, and there are plenty of tools to help you along. From learning vocabulary on Memrise to watching video lessons on Youtube, to using Anki flashcards and reading blogs about language education, the internet is a great place to find resources. Even italki has advice for how to move your language learning forward by yourself.

Unfortunately, there is often a temptation to limit one’s education to just these solitary activities. It is understandable why: we like activities in which we can easily see our progress. Memorizing a hundred words using flashcards is a rewarding activity. It creates the experience of progress. The experience of memorization gives us immediate feedback, and because of this it is easy to get caught-up in the exercises, and forget that language is inherently a social activity. In fact, there are theories of language development that explain the evolution of language as a way to expand our social groups. (This theory also thinks of language as a form of grooming, as seen ape societies.)

Though it is possible, and often makes sense to practice individual language skills alone (for example, building up vocabulary), it is through integration of these individual skills that we get the practice which will help us approach fluency.

Moreover, the rewards of learning are not the numbers of memorized words or the efficiency with which you construct sentences. The fundamental reward of speaking a foreign language is gaining perspective, understanding someone from a different culture and world, and being understood by them. Experiencing the social rewards of the work you are doing by learning a foreign language will encourage you to keep going. That magical moment of understanding and being understood makes the process of studying and practicing worthwhile.

As we enter the holiday season, a time many countries and societies celebrate togetherness, family, and connection to their communities, we hope you take the opportunity to practice your language skills, and share your excitement about learning languages with those close to you, perhaps even by speaking to them in their own languages! Don’t get lost in solo practice, but reward yourself and connect with others by sharing the wonder and excitement of language learning.

 

 

 

 

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This is your brain on “Thank You”

November 26th, 2015 | Posted by Ivan in tips | Writing - (Comments Off on This is your brain on “Thank You”)

This is not a post about Thanksgiving, it is about Giving Thanks. 

Though the Thanksgiving holiday itself is very U.S.-centric, the concept of the importance of gratitude is universal. Since the mid 90s, the concept of gratitude has captured the attention of researchers in the fields of psychology, especially positive psychology, and neuroscience.

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The strongest pattern emerging from the study of gratitude is somewhat surprising: although expressing gratitude often means thanking someone else, the real benefit of feeling and expressing gratitude is gained by the person expressing gratitude. Even when expressed to no one in particular, expression of gratitude has some real and measurable benefits.

Among the benefits described by academic studies of the subject are increased happiness, better connections with others, and general improvement of one’s relationships.

Expressing gratitude routinely trains the brain to find reasons to be grateful, and trains the brain to feel happy about positive experiences. In fact, the field of neuroscience generally sees habitual practice of feeling, acknowledging, and expressing gratitude as a great shortcut to happiness, productivity, and connectedness.

As a company that is based almost entirely on connecting people, we believe strongly that the practice of gratitude, and the benefits of expressing gratitude in everyday life are worth celebrating.

So, we would like to say:

Thank You

To all our wonderful users, students, teachers, and tutors: we want to express the immense amount of gratitude we feel seeing the development of our community. This Thanksgiving, we are deeply grateful for all the people donating their time to others by correcting notebooks, writing articles, sharing their experiences in the community discussions, and dedicating the time and effort for learning foreign language from each other, often from opposite sides of the world. We are grateful to see the meaning our effort can take on for those who want to understand speakers of other languages, and willing to dedicate their time and energy to help the online language-learning ecosystem grow and develop.

We are glad to express this idea, and hope that you will find many ways to express it, and many people to whom you want to show your gratitude.

A common practice recommended by positive psychology is of gratitude journaling. Picking a certain time of the day to do a simple mindful practice of finding reasons to be grateful helps make the habit part of one’s life. This kind of continuous practice is familiar to all language-learners.

Imagine how hard it would be to learn a language if you simply spent one day each year binging on foreign-language material, and lived the rest of the year unconcerned with your practice. As with gratitude, language learning is a continuous practice of small, but intentional steps towards a goal, a better understanding, and better connection to others.

On this Thanksgiving holiday, and in light of this idea of continuous improvement and practice, we would like to share this article about Thanksgiving written by a Lakota columnist for the Guardian.

And, of course, we’d like to encourage you to say “thank you” to someone today, in whatever language you want to pick.

 

Works Cited:

Harvard Medical School: Harvard Mental Health Letter

Psychology Today: The Grateful Brain

US National Library Of Medicine: Gratitude and Well Being

 

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