italki: First conversation

iTalki is a website where you can seek a language partner or tutor.

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I first heard about italki in March, when I was stumbling around with my head spinning as I tried to figure out how I was going to teach myself Korean. I thought about it in April, when italki sent me an email. In May, I considered the challenge goal. I would browse italki from time to time. Ponder. Debate.  Read the community forum.  Read profiles.  Be indecisive.  Be overwhelmed and overloaded with what was already on my plate, put it on the back burner.


Over the summer, I thought of iTalki when polyglots Luca and David Mansaray mentioned it. In September, Benny Lewis nudged me towards iTalki with his Speak in a Week emails. Moreover, I started getting language exchange requests directly in my email …

italkilerequests2I had Skype sessions with Beak Ji min 배지민 and Kim Soeong Yeol 김성열 .  I briefly chatted with Dongho 양동호 in Kaokotalk.  I sent emails to Tina and Soonhae, plus messages to Ella and Gilha.  Now I can add people I met at italki to the Interpals, ROKStars, and Mindpasta folks.

I’ve got to stop whining that I have never met a Korean in my area.  It is not like I am lacking for Koreans to talk to!  Haha  If you are using “I don’t know anyone to speak the language I am learning with” as an excuse, I challenge you that there are options if you are ready to take the step to look for them.

I read about the iTalki October challenge of 12 sessions in the month of October.  It is like a personal bet.  You give them $10, and if you have the 12 sessions in October, they give you the $10 back plus $20 credit to take more classes.  As for me, the idea of adding that much to my language learning was too much.

So I thought I would start small.  Schedule one session, see how it goes.  It took me three weeks of pondering the teachers again.  No one said I am making lightning progress here!  In seven months, I managed to work up my courage to one iTalki tutoring session with Woojae Jun  전오재.

I discussed my goal to make small talk with a Korean in 3 months.  Woojae didn’t laugh! What a relief.  The act of setting a goal has galvanized me.  Thank you Brian Kwong of Add1Challenge.

I feel in good hands with Woojae.  He outlined how he likes to proceed with tutoring, although he tailors each session to the individual.

  • Memorize the vocabulary by yourself
  • Homework outside of the tutoring session, such as watching news with scripts
  • Study every day, 30 to 60 minutes

It is a reflection on how I have changed that I didn’t balk when Woojae said these things. However, I do have to think how I am going to achieve this.  Korean Digital Academy class is still my first goal, and this will be my second goal, which may push out time for 1000 Korean Words Memrise flashcards.  Probably less hanging out at Mindpasta, emails to pen pals, spending hours drawing a single flashcard, wild tangents to write a blog post, and goofing off surfing the web, too.  For my little brat inner child not to rebel, I will have to be sure the studying includes doses of fun.  This is a serious commitment.

Yet, I am so excited to have reached this point.

I am ready for more organized and dependable sessions to work on practicing speaking Korean.  I’ve made Korean friends, but I am stuck in my own head unable to form sentences to talk to them.  I really WANT to learn to make small talk, and I am willing to put in the work it is going to take to get me there.

Benny Lewis, my inspiration, talks about having 3 tutor sessions a week when he is on a 3 month challenge learning a new language.  I will try 1 session a week, and hope this focuses my efforts with deadlines just the way KDA class does.

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5 Responses to italki: First conversation

  1. Naahh says:

    I decided to take this challenge on Italki… I’m talking to an english community teacher (because I really need to improve my speaking skills) to schedule 5 sessions. The only thing I didn’t liked is that the korean teachers seem to have a strong accent, which is a bad thing for non-native or non-fluent english speakers… I still have some problems with english, so I need a teacher that I can understand clearly. Woojae was one of the teachers that I liked, but I’m still a bit unsure. Would you recommend him?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jreidy17 says:

      I haven’t had a tutoring session with Woojae yet, our first session is tomorrow. I did speak with him briefly on Skype. I have very positive first impressions. Tell him I sent you. 🙂

      I think finding the right tutor is a personal thing. Woojae seems quite competent and confident, and he has been doing this for 3 years and given many sessions. He does have a slight accent, but he has perfect grasp of English as far as I can tell.


  2. Great blog post and keep up the good work! Please let us know if we can help with anything.


  3. Elfin says:

    So, how did your first session on Italki go ? I too went through the whole ” But I won’t have time to do my own studying ! ” phase. But small talk in the target language is what keeps us motivated at this stage. Best of luck !


    • jreidy17 says:

      First session with tutor went great. He can teach me so much. However, my mind was a bit blown when he gave me a list of 647 vocabulary words to study on my own. Yes, this should really help!


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