Updates: Design improvements, using the CEFR

June 16th, 2011 | Posted by Kevin in announcement - (Comments Off)

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

Scheduled Maintenance: Feb 20 06:00 GMT

February 20th, 2011 | Posted by admin in announcement - (Comments Off)

Hi italki users,

Right now our servers are undergoing scheduled maintenance. We should be back online in a few hours. Sorry about the inconvenience!

The italki Team

Update: We’re back!

More improvements: Notebook, Answers, Groups

June 4th, 2010 | Posted by Kevin in announcement - (Comments Off)

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

New Version of the italki Website

May 4th, 2010 | Posted by Kevin in announcement | feature - (Comments Off)

We’re writing to let you know we’ve been changing italki.com to make it easier for you to learn a language and make friends around the world. If you haven’t been on italki for a while, you have to see what’s changed.

Improved Layout

We reorganized the website to make it easier to see and respond to what your italki friends are doing. We’ve also restructured the user profiles to make it easier for other italki users to help you with answering your questions, correcting your notebook, and replying to your group posts. We think you’ll find the new site easier to use, friendlier, and more useful for learning a language. There are too many improvements to list here, so login to italki and see the changes for yourself!

New Features – Notebook

We’ve mentioned a few weeks ago that we now have the Notebook, which is where you can practice and improve your writing skills. You can get corrections from other italki users, as well as correct other people’s writings. We hope you’ll take the opportunity to help others, as well as share information about your culture.

Improved Marketplace

If you’re looking for a teacher or a language product, you should take a look at our improved marketplace. If you think learning a language is expensive or if you just need extra help, you should definitely try an italki teacher, or check out language products like SpeakENG. We’ll be releasing even more improvements in this area soon.

Other tips

One tip we’d like to mention is that for users that are experiencing slowness on italki, we now have the ability to turn off the chat. For some users, this may dramatically improve the speed of the site.

We have even more changes coming, and please keep your feedback coming as well. We hope you like the new site (and tell your friends!). We’re doing our best to make italki a great place to learn a language and make friends around the world.

The italki Team


25% discount for italki users (limited time only) – Coupon Code: FOR_ITALKI_USERS

Shanghai Expo and May Holidays

April 29th, 2010 | Posted by Kevin in announcement - (Comments Off)

The World Expo is about to start in Shanghai, and we are excited to be here. Shanghai has been under construction for years in preparation for this event, and now the world will be able to see the results of that work.

This year’s Expo theme is Urban Development, and there will be numerous pavilions dedicated to how we can improve the way we live. We think this theme is very timely, given the level of urbanization in China, and the problems it faces in terms of sustainable economic growth. Events like the Expo present a great opportunity for people to exchange ideas about these increasingly universal issues.

italki is also trying to facilitate the exchange of ideas, virtually through the internet. Even though technology has driven the costs of communications to almost zero, language still represents a significant barrier in communication. It’s hard to imagine how people can work well together to tackle global issues if they cannot communicate well with each other.

If you are coming to the Expo (or are just curious), try posting it on your blackboard or in your notebook. Many italki users are interested in meeting in person, and there are lots of members in Shanghai (where we are based)! If you also happen to be in town (for the Expo or otherwise), please come and stop by — we like using Skype, but we’d love to meet you in person!

The italki Team