This post originally appeared on Raising Arrows – a personal blog site run by Amy Roberts. Reposted with her permission.

Foreign-Language

My oldest daughter, Meg, loves languages. She is taking formal Spanish via a computer program plus teaching herself bits and pieces of several other languages. She’s a quick study; however, she has told me on multiple occasions that she really needs someone to speak the languages with her because the computer lacks the interaction and feedback of a live person.

So, when I learned about italki.com, an online foreign language instruction site that provides teacher/student interaction via Skype sessions, I was hopeful this might be the answer to her dilemma.

Answer would be an understatement.

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We are very pleased to announce the release of an upgraded version of italki.com.

The new version of the site includes a cleaner layout, a redesigned dashboard and a few new cool features. Expect more improvements in the future to italki, as a lot of the work in this new version has been with the backend system.

As we migrate to this new version, we hope that you can remain patient as we try and fix all the bugs and issues that may crop up.

So without further ado, here is a first look at some of the main new changes to italki.com:

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Are you interested in getting online language lessons or speaking practice? We’ve made some important updates to the website that we hope will make it easier to find a teacher that suits your needs!

We are separating our Language Teachers into Community Tutors and Professional Teachers. Secondly, we will divide the services which are provided into formal Language Lessons, Speaking Practice, and Language Exchange.

What has changed?

* We’ve made a new menu for the website that will make it easier to pick a service – Language Lessons, Speaking Practice, Language Exchange (and of course Answers, Notebook, and Groups)
* We have new profiles for Users, Teachers, and Tutors. Now you can make it clearer what you’re looking for, whether it is a Chinese language exchange partner or a teacher to practice English.
* We have a simplified rating system for teachers
* We have made it easier to contact other users, particularly teachers and tutors

What Teacher Service should I choose?

If you wish to just focus on speaking practice or getting help on your homework, then you can take a session with our Community Tutors. A Community Tutor is generally a native speaker of the language, but does not work as a teacher or have formal training as a teacher. A Community Tutor is great for people who are already taking lessons offline, or are intermediate / advanced level. Many Community Tutors also prepare in-depth lessons like Professional Teachers.

Professional Teachers are able to give formal language lessons, and teach you how to learn all aspects of a foreign language. Professional teachers are trained in a teaching method, and can provide a structured approach to learning. Professional Teachers are necessary for beginner level students, and are a faster way to progress for advanced and intermediate level students.

For any questions about these upcoming changes, please check out the italki support forum or email support@italki.com.

Have you ever wanted to make voice recordings on italki? Now you can. You can make voice recordings on your notebook entries, as well as in your italki messages.


Now your notebook entries can be used to get corrections on your pronunciation, or just to give an introduction to yourself.

Your italki messages can now be used to practice speaking with other italki members (like trading voice messages).

Here is an example of a teacher using this feature to record a short introduction to himself.
http://www.italki.com/notebook/entry/196760.htm

We hope that this is helpful for everyone trying to learn a language. Let us know what you think!

The italki Team

Note: Unfortunately, we have already tested that it doesn’t work on Linux systems. Sorry about that.

We’re always trying to improve italki, and we’ve recently made a few important changes. Here’s they are:

New Friend Relationships
We’re changing how friends are handled on italki to an asymmetrical system. You’re probably already familiar with this type of relationship through services like Twitter, Weibo, and Google Plus.

What this means that you can “follow” anyone’s updates. When the other person follows you back, then it’s just like the old “friends” or “language partners” relationship. When you’re both connected, you’ll be able to write messages and chat with each other.

We made this change to simplify our previous system, which had aspects of both symmetrical and asymmetrical systems. Don’t worry — all of your existing friends will automatically transition to the new system. We think the system, in particular, will benefit new users who may have a hard time getting connected with people.

Inbox Messages
We’ve also changed our inbox to be less like email, and more like a chat conversations. This should make it easier to pick up where you left off in your conversations. It should also help us transition to a more robust chat system in the future.

We hope these updates (and smaller ones we haven’t mentioned) will make italki easier and more fun for you to use. What we’ve learned is that italki is not a traditional social network, and language partners are not your typical “friends”. Your language partners on italki almost always start off as strangers. Moreover, language partners share a complementary interest. This is the basis for language exchanges, and the relationship between teachers and students for language teaching.

As always, we’re interested to hear what you think. Please send your ideas and suggestions to support@italki.com. We’re going to have more changes coming up, so stay in touch!

The italki Team