We just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Lantern Festival and Year of the Tiger. The Lantern Festival is traditionally the last day of the Chinese New Year Holiday (also known as the Spring Festival Chūnjié 春节), and it is a festival that is supposed to bring good luck and hope.

We hope that everyone’s 2010 is off to a great start. At italki, we’re really excited about this year, because there is so much to do. We’ll be putting a lot of effort this year into improving the site, and building features to make it easier for you to learn a language. Thanks again for being part of the italki community, and we’ll work to make the Year of the Tiger our best year yet.

The italki Team

Last month we launched Packages, multiple sessions booked together with one teacher.  As with any new feature, some people are a bit unsure how make good use of it, so we asked a few teachers to help us show off their best package offerings.  So far eight teachers have agreed to help.  (If you’re a teacher and would like to participate, please read this post.)

All of the offerings from these eight teachers are packages of 10 lessons, 1 hour per lesson, covering a certain course the teacher has agreed to teach.  These 10 lessons can be scheduled at the convenience of the teacher and student, 1 per week or even 1 per day!  Various topics include Japanese Conversation, British Current Affairs, and French Culture.  To book any of the packages with the teacher, first make sure you have enough ITC in your account for the whole package, and then just choose your favorite topic and favorite teacher.  The teachers listed on that page are all eager to help you learn their languages!

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Happy New Year 2010

December 31st, 2009 | Posted by Toffler in announcement - (1 Comments)

We want to wish a happy new year to all our members, teachers, supporters, investors, advisers, and staff.  Thank you for a great 2009! And we look forward to an even more exciting 2010.

Best Wishes for the Near Year,

The italki Team

P.S. The December Unwrap the Joy of Learning promotion ends tonight at midnight, China time.  That’s in 6 hours, so hurry now!

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for: Packages!

Packages are bundles of sessions that are sold together at one time. We hope this makes it easier for teachers and long-term students to schedule their sessions on italki.

Teachers can offer packages for both their courses and one-on-one sessions. As always, teachers set their own prices for both individual sessions and for overall package prices.  We recommend offering a discount for students who choose to purchase your sessions in bulk. In order to start offering packages, teachers should go to edit their teaching profile.

Teachers can set packages in bundles of 10, 20, 30, 40, or 50 sessions.  All the sessions within a package must be the same length, for example, 30, 45, 60, 90, or 120 minutes.

Packages1

For students, when you purchase a package, you can schedule as many session as you want (with a minimum of one).  You can reserve the same time every week with a teacher by checking the box “repeat weekly.” By purchasing the whole package at once, you can generally get a discount from the teacher, so make sure you have enough italki Credits (ITCs) in your account for the whole package.

Packages2

The idea behind packages is to make it easier for long-term students and teachers to transact on italki. By prepaying for a course, and scheduling multiple lessons at once, students and teachers can spend less time on the system, and more time on learning the language.

We’re still improving the system, so if you have suggestions about packages or what other features you’d like to see on italki, please send those to us through our feedback form or via email at (feedback at italki dot com).

Over the last few months, we’ve taken in feedback from both students and teachers about how the Language Teachers and Language Courses work. We’re now releasing a set of changes, based on your feedback, to make the system easier and more useful. In the next two blog posts we’ll tell you what you need to know about these changes.

New Scheduling System
We have made a number of changes to the scheduling system with the goal of making it easier for students and teachers to match up.

Scheduling

When requesting a session, students are required to select an available time from the teacher's calendar.

Teachers now set a schedule which shows when they are available. When students try to book a session with the teacher, they must choose from those times. This helps avoid the situation where students schedule a lesson for a time when the teacher is asleep. Therefore, it is critical that teachers update their calendars with all possible available times. If a teacher has no available times, students will not be able to request a lesson with them.

In addition, students must request sessions at least 24 hours in advance. This gives teachers enough time to respond and prepare for a lesson.

Teachers will allow be able to set “vacation times”, or dates when they know they will not be able to teach classes. (We will be sending a message to your inbox with a full list of changes.)

Language Courses
We have also made some initial changes to the way Language Courses are handled. Eventually, we hope Language Courses will give teachers a way of showing off specific classes or skills that they can teach. Likewise, we hope it is a way for students to find a specific teacher or structured teaching plan that fits their goals. Notably, if a student wants help on test preparation, translation, or business vocabulary, this would be the place for students to browse.

We are still making many improvements, and we are definitely interested in hearing your suggestions about how to improve Language Courses, the scheduling system, or anything else about the website. Please feel free to send us ideas through our feedback form or via email at (feedback at italki dot com).