Author Archives: Kevin

Updates: Improvements to the teaching system, others

December 31st, 2011 | Posted by Kevin in announcement - (Comments Off on Updates: Improvements to the teaching system, others)

It’s been a long time since we’ve posted on here, but we wanted to let you know that we’re still working on improvements to italki. We’ve just recently uploaded a number of changes to the website:

* Made it easier to schedule lessons from teachers
* Made it easier to handle lesson confirmation and problems
* Integrated a whole new system for customer service (check it out zendesk)
* Improved the My Sessions page, and session details pages
* Multiple improvements on the UI and design

We also moved to some new servers. Hopefully, the site should be running faster.

Please let us know what you think about the changes. You can go to our feedback, or send us an email to support at

We also wanted to let you know that there should be exciting developments in 2012. We’ve got a lot of ideas, and we’re always interested in your suggestions. Tell us where you think we should take italki!

The italki Team

Updates: Design improvements, using the CEFR

June 16th, 2011 | Posted by Kevin in announcement - (Comments Off on Updates: Design improvements, using the CEFR)

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.


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:

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

New Features: “Follow” and Site Optimization

August 24th, 2010 | Posted by Kevin in feature - (Comments Off on New Features: “Follow” and Site Optimization)

At italki, we’ve been spending some time on making small but important improvements to the site. For those of you that are also developing websites, you know how important it is to optimize and test your pages. Most of the changes will have already been noticed by our long-term users. We just wanted to mention a few of the important ones.

“Following” Users
One change we’re testing right now is to allow users to “follow” each other. For those users that are familiar with or 新浪微薄, this is a pretty simple concept. If you see a user that you’re interested in, you can “follow” their public updates on your main home page. Specifically, the follow feature will show updates for asking / answering questions, writing / correcting notebooks, and posting in groups.

We think this feature is really helpful for new users who have just arrived on italki and don’t have many friends. It’s a quick way to get involved in discussions, and see how other users are learning on the site.

Finally, don’t worry about about your existing friends. You will automatically follow them, in addition to your teachers and your students (if you have them). As with before, features like online chatting, sending private messages, and the blackboard will all be based on “friend” relationships and your privacy settings.

Other Improvements

We’ve also tried to make it easier to see important features on the site. Many users still don’t know that you can find an online tutor or teacher on italki. Our teachers have also asked us for more help on promoting them to potential students. We’ll be continuing to test small improvements like this to help students and teachers get the most out of italki.

– – – – –

As always, please send your suggestions to feedback at italki dot com. We’re always interested to hear what you think we can do to improve the site!

Best wishes for learning a language,

The italki team

Moneybookers: Even more payment options

July 12th, 2010 | Posted by Kevin in marketplace - (2 Comments)

italki can now accept payments through Moneybookers, one of the world’s largest payment partners. Moneybookers is used throughout the world to help process:

  • Credit Cards and Debit Cards: In addition to Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and JCB, there is also Visa Delta/Debit (UK), Visa Electron, Maestro (UK, Spain & Austria), Solo (UK), Diners, Laser (Ireland), and more.
  • Online Banking: Giropay (Germany), Direct Debit (Germany), Sofortueberweisung (Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Bulgium, Switzerland), eNETS (Singapore), Nordea Solo (Sweden, Finland), iDEAL (Netherlands), EPS (Austria), POLi (Australia), all Polish Banks, (Bulgaria), and more.
  • Moneybookers ewallet: Moneybookers also has its own electronic wallet

You can view this list when you go to purchase italki credits on the My Finance tab. Here’s an update of what the payment options look like…

One of the key things we believe about italki’s marketplace is that it is important to make it as easy as possible for anyone to join the teaching ecosystem. Unfortunately, not all payment systems are available or popular in every country. Not having a convenient payment option is a barrier for people to transact, and therefore a barrier to learning or teaching a language online.

We hope that adding these payment options will make it easier for many users to pay for teachers and language services on italki. Keep following us, and we’ll continue to tell you know about new features and payment options that we hope will make italki even more useful for language students and teachers around the world.

The italki team

More improvements: Notebook, Answers, Groups

June 4th, 2010 | Posted by Kevin in announcement - (Comments Off on More improvements: Notebook, Answers, Groups)

We just wanted to announce that we’ve made a few more adjustments to the italki website. We hope these changes will make it easier to use, and find information that is relevant to you. Here’s a short list of what’s new:

  • New home pages for Answers, Notebook, and Groups – we’re trying to make it easier for you to find interesting questions, notebook entries, and discussions. If you’re logged in, these pages will now show you information based on your personal preferences.
  • Rankings for Answers and Notebook – We’ve made a small ranking system as a way of saying thank you to the people who contribute to the italki community. Thanks!
  • Language Homepage (example: Chinese) – Now you can see what’s the latest updates for every language at italki.
  • Sharing Buttons – If you run into something interesting on italki, you can easily share it on the rest of the web.
  • .

  • And many more changes…

While we know these changes can be a little confusing, we really hope that italki is becoming more and more useful. Please tell us what you think through our feedback button. We’re very interested to know how you think we can make italki an amazing place to learn a language online!

The italki Team