italki Review for Teachers – How to Get Started

What exactly is italki and how to do you become a teacher with italki? In this free guide, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about getting started with italki. From how to teach class, to how much does italki pay, to how to get students. Let’s get started.

Unlike online teaching companies, italki is not an online school like SayABC, Palfish or VIPKID. Instead, they are a leading marketplace of teachers and language learners. Not just English mind you. While the most popular and in demand language is English, you can become a teacher in your own native language if you choose too.

The way italki works is quite simple, they are an online language learning provider. They are part marketplace, and part community that connects language learners with teachers for private lessons.

To get started teaching takes a bit of time. You’ll need to apply, submit your credentials and go through a vetting process before being added to the marketplace of potential teachers.

All applications are considered on a case by case basis but qualified teachers (bachelors in education, TEFL certificate, certified teacher in their country of origin) are given priority.

How to become a teacher with italki

To begin the process of becoming a teacher begins with you applying.

  1. Submit your application for review.
  2. Application will be either be pre-approved, waitlist or rejected. Applicants are notified within 10 business days.
  3. Once approved, teachers go through an on-boarding process that includes teacher success videos and a quiz.
  4. Upon completion of the self study section, you’ll have to complete a video call with italki Teacher Services. 
  5. An application will be formally approved once you complete all these steps. You’ll be notified within 7 business days after your call with teacher services.

This is an involved process. It’s designed to to weed out lazy people and unqualified people.

What are the requirements to teach with italki?

They have two groups of teachers, professional teachers and community tutors. To become a professional teacher on italki requires:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a bachelors degree. If in education you’ll be given priority. If no bachelors you’ll need a TEFL certificate or equivalent.
  • Submit a 1-3 minute introduction video.
  • Have references and employment history.
  • Be a native speaker (or be at a C2 language ability).

To become a community tutor requires:

  • Be 18 years old.
  • Submit a 1-3 minute video introduction.
  • Native speaker in your language or verified C2 language ability.

Setting up your profile correctly with italki

Once you go through the vetting process and have been accepted into the teacher marketplace your next task is to setup an effective teacher profile.

Your teacher profile for italki should include numerous things.

Head Shot Photo

You’ll need to upload a profile photo for italki. This picture should be of you smiling, with a plain background and from the shoulders up.

Introduction video

With italki, you will need to include an introduction video. You can upload this video to YouTube and then embed it into your profile. We suggest making the video “unlisted” so only people with a link to the video or anywhere it is embedded can see it.

Here is an example of a tutor introduction video:

Teaching skills

Next, with italki you’ll be able to list out your language skills and teaching specialties.

This is fairly self explanatory. Language skills are the languages you know and are able to teach. Your teaching specialties help prospective language learners make a decision if you’re the right teacher for them. You can also include any special test prep you offer.

About me on italki

Last you’ll have the opportunity to write a detailed paragraph explaining who you are. This is your opportunity to sell yourself to potential language learners. Include your professional background, education, teaching style, previous employment and any awards or successes you have had as a teacher.

Also breakup your about me paragraph into smaller paragraphs. Too many teachers create a “wall of text” that for even native speakers is annoying to read.

How much does italki pay?

Now for the fun part, how much does italki actually pay? Well, unlike online teaching companies that have a set hourly rate and various bonuses, with italki you can charge anywhere from $4 to $80 an hour for your time.

What most teachers do is that they set a low price trial rate of $1-5 as a way to recruit students. Then charge a much higher rate if the student wishes to continue. All teachers are allowed to give 3 trial lessons before the language learner must make a purchase decision.

This forces students to actually pick a teach and pay instead of doing endless low cost trial lessons. English teachers usually charge $25- $33 an hour.

Again however, it just depends on what your teaching. If you’re an English teacher who is focused on test prep to help language learners pass various exams required for employment you can charge a higher rate than you would if you were teaching beginner level lessons.

The commission rate iTalki takes is a flat 15% for providing the marketplace.

Course packages

Another helpful feature italki provides its teachers is that they allow you to create full course packages.

As a teacher you can create a package like “English fundamentals 101” that is a 70 lesson course aimed at complete beginners that you charge $30 an hour for. Students can then look at your specific booking an payment options. Booking is obviously based on your availability and payment options is an internal italki feature for students.

How do you teach the lessons?

If you’re coming from VIPKID, Palfish or any other online teaching company you may be wondering how exactly do you teach the lessons when a student books you? Unlike those online teaching companies the lesson material is 100% on you to create.

The slides, PDF’s, downloadable material is all on you. This makes italki a lot of work upfront. But once your material is ready, it’s simply a matter of fine tuning it over time.

To actually conduct the lessons you have various options:

  • Skype – Most popular for UK and American teachers but not as popular outside the west.
  • Facetime – If you have IOS and your student has IOS then you can use Facetime.
  • Google Hangouts – The best option overall as most language learners have access to Google Hangouts.
  • QQ – The Facebook equivalent in China. This is what Chinese students use.

What about students who are a no-show?

For students and teachers alike, the italki platform will remind you that you have class. In the case of cancellations, please refer to the italki cancellation policy.

italki affiliate program

The last way to make money as an italki teacher is to refer new students to the platform. At this time italki does not pay to recruit teachers but if you have an audience of language learners then the italki affiliate program is an excellent way to supplement your income.

The affiliate program pays $10 per new student who signup and makes a purchase. If you have a popular YouTube channel and Facebook page about learning to speak English for example, you can make hundreds of dollars with ease referring new students.

The positive of italki

The positive of italki is that you’re able to get paid a much higher hourly rate than you would working for an online teaching company. You also have the opportunity to teach adults more complex topics as well as test prep.

It’s also helpful because you can teach at various hours through out the day, not just early morning like a lot of teachers who work for Chinese companies do.

The negatives of italki

You’ll have to come up with the course material yourself and you’ll have to manage students on multiple chatting platforms. Also, unlike an online teaching company that will give you a block of time to teach, with italki you could find yourself teaching at random hours through out the day.

We personally prefered online teaching companies in the past for this reason, but with the new crackdown on online teaching in China, we’re sure italki and similar marketplaces with now have greater interest.

italki Review Conclusion

So that is it for Teach and GO’s italki review. If you’re looking to take your online teaching to a more independent level and are wanting to diversify away from online teaching companies we strongly suggest getting started with italki.

They have a great platform and affiliate program and provide the ability to develop your own client list of students – both young and old.

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