Updates: Design improvements, using the CEFR

June 16th, 2011 | Posted by Kevin in announcement

It’s been a long time since we’ve posted on our blog, but we hope you know that doesn’t mean we haven’t been making changes to the site. We uploaded a few changes recently and we just wanted to write a quick post to let you know what those are.

Redesign

Over time, italki has added many new features, including our questions and answers, and our notebook corrections. We think these features are helpful for our users, but it’s also added a lot of complexity to the website. In our latest design update, we’ve tried to simplify the user interface to reduce all the distractions. Where there used to be two user menus, now there is only one.

Recent Updates now shows what is “interesting”

We are also experimenting with recent updates to try and bring up more relevant information to you. “Interesting” is a feed of updates that tries to pick out questions, notebook, entries, and other information that might be useful to you. You can modify what is included in “interesting” by clicking on the gear icon.

You can still see the previous recent updates (what your friends are doing) by just clicking on “following” to see what your friends are doing on italki.

Adopting the European CEFR System

We also decided to shift our language rating system to the European standard for language levels called, the strong>Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). While our previous system was easy to understand, we believe over time, these official standards will become more common.

CEFR Explanation

A1 : italki – Beginner
Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

A2 : italki – Elementary
Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

B1 : italki – Pre-intermediate
Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

B2 : italki – Intermediate
Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

C1 : italki – Upper-intermediate
Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

C2: italki – Advanced
Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

(Text was taken from the Wikipedia entry)
Here is the link to the Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages

There are more changes coming up still — we thought we’d just post a quick note, as many of you have already noticed the changes. As always, if you have any suggestions or ideas, please keep sending them into feedback at italki dot com.

The italki Team

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