Have you ever wanted to write something and get help correcting it?
Now you can write a short post in your Notebook, and get other italki members to correct and comment on it.

Many of our users have been suggesting we create a feature like this for some time. One thing that we like about this idea is how you can use your notebook in a variety of ways. You can use it as a learning tool for writing — post a short essay or something you want help with. (Some of our users have already been using the answers section for this.) This can also be used as a way of expressing yourself (like a blog) or for taking notes about things that you’ve learned about a language.

When you view someone else’s notebook, you’ll be able to correct and comment on it. When you correct an entry, there will be a copy of the original text, and you’ll have HTML formatting tools like strikethrough and colors to help you point out errors and what are your comments.  If you’re just interested in giving an opinion, you can just leave a comment.

We hope you try using the Notebook (try writing a notebook entry right now!). If you’re a bit shy, you can at least help other users by correcting or commenting on their writings. It’s a great way to connect with other users.

Let us know your thoughts about how we can improve this feature, as well as other features that you’d like to see on italki. Let us know through feedback.

This is part of our planned improvements to italki. There will be more changes coming very soon, so please keep sending us your feedback and checking back here at the blog!

The italki team

Last night, we got the opportunity to present at the E-Teachers Academy Conference on Communities and the Power of Crowdsourcing, hosted by Kirsten Winkler (@KirstenWinkler). We’re always impressed with how Kirsten is able to organize these conferences with so many of the key players in our space. There were presentations from Languages Out There, Busuu, Wiziq and us.

Kirsten has written a more detailed review of the conference, and the presentations are all embedded on her blog. If you’re interested in the specific comments, you should definitely take a look.

Overall, we thought the attendees were positive on the value of communities for language learning, but much more skeptical about the potential in crowdsourcing. The sense was that people could rely on help from other members in a community, provided the community was well run and focused. However, the product of collaborative work from the community was generally lacking in creativity and often of very poor quality.

At italki, we have tried crowdsourcing in many areas of our site, and we are well aware of the difficulties in crowdsourcing. As we mentioned in our presentation, you don’t always get the perfect answer when you want it. However, we are definiely positive on its long-term potential. We have just updated our community-based site translation feature, for example.

In addition, we do think it is possible to collaboratively create language learning materials, particularly if the license for the content is under the Creative Commons. Our inspiration here remains Wikipedia. We agree that art and literature designed by committee sounds awful. However, we think it is too pessimistic to say that basic materials for language learning can not be created collaboratively. It seems to run contrary to experience of impressive resources being released for other academic subjects (see MIT Open Courseware, and Connexions).

It was an interesting conference, and the discussion gave us a lot to think about. We want to give special thanks to Kirsten again for organizing it, as well as Wiziq for hosting the event with their virtual classroom. We’re definitely looking forward to the next one!

Kevin and the italki team

We want you to get the most out of italki, and so we’re planning to write a series of blog posts for how you can improve your experience.

General tips for finding good language partners

1. First, offer to help other users

Many users ask other users to become friends by demanding that they help them learn a language.  This isn’t wrong exactly, but it’s always important to think from the other person’s perspective.  Ask yourself why this person would want to become your italki friend?

* Person A:  Hi

* Person B:  Teach me English I wan learn English very mch

* Person C:  Salut, I see that you are learning French.   I was born in Paris, and I am native speaker of French.   I was wondering if you could help me with English for practice in French?

bad introduction

bad introduction

In order to receive help, you must be willing to give it. Especially at the start, it’s important to let other users know that you’re interested in helping them too.

2. Show something real about yourself

Profile pictures
When you’re online, it is harder to build trust, so it’s important to try to be real. Not having a picture or using fake pictures makes it harder to connect with other users.

Which one of these is a real person?

Audrey Hepburn did not join italki

Audrey Hepburn did not join italki

Profile information

Likewise, profiles with no information makes it harder for other users to know if they should be friends with you. The more you’re willing to share about yourself, the more likely other people will be willing to share their time with you.  Again, always offer to help people in your profile.

3. Answer questions, ask questions

Answering questions is a great way to show other people that you are interested in sharing your knowledge. In addition, other users who have similar questions may view your answer and find you that way.

Asking good questions also shows potential language partners that you’re serious about learning a language. Some users are looking for longer-term study partners, and showing that you know something about the language helps the community understand who you are.

4. Having discussions in groups

Groups is another place to be seen and to participate in a dialogue.

In particular, if you are a teacher or tutor and want to let other language learners know that you are available to teach, definitely go to the help offered / schools and teachers group to post an introduction. If you are student looking for help, you should post here.

Likewise, if you’re a student, go post in a group like learning the language or in the help wanted / tests and exams area.

5. Don’t give up

It isn’t easy to find good long-term language partners, so don’t assume after sending five invitations that there is nobody who wants to work with you. It’s also important to know there are many reasons why people don’t reply or aren’t interested. Some users already have many friends, and don’t want to add new ones. Some users are just too busy.

Our main recommendation is just to keep on trying, and keep on coming back to the site. The language partner search results are generally filtered by who was last online — so don’t wait to be found. Stay online, and get involved!

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If you have other suggestions or ideas about how to get the most out of italki, please let us know in the comments below! You can also always send us feedback or email at feedback at italki dot com.

The italki team