What exactly is italki, and how do you become a teacher with italki? This free guide will cover everything you need to know about starting with italki. From how to teach a 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 native language if you choose to.
The way italki works is quite simple; they are an online language learning provider. They are a part marketplace and 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 case-by-case, but qualified teachers (bachelor’s 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.
- Submit your application for review.
- Application will be either be pre-approved, waitlist or rejected. Applicants are notified within 10 business days.
- Once approved, teachers go through an on-boarding process that includes teacher success videos and a quiz.
- Upon completion of the self study section, you’ll have to complete a video call with italki Teacher Services.
- 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.
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:
Next, with italki you’ll be able to list out your language skills and teaching specialties.
This is self-explanatory. Language skills are the languages you know and can teach. Your teaching specialties help prospective language learners decide if you’re the right teacher for them. You can also include any special test prep you offer.
About me on italki
Last, you can 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, break up 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 pay? Unlike online teaching companies with 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 three trial lessons before the language learner must make a purchase decision.
This forces students to pick a teacher 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 you are teaching. If you’re an English teacher 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 a flat 15% for providing the marketplace.
Another helpful feature italki provides its teachers is that they allow you to create complete course packages.
As a teacher, you can create a package like “English fundamentals 101,” a 70-lesson course for complete beginners that you charge $30 an hour. Students can then look at your specific booking and payment options. Booking is based on your availability, and payment options are 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 wonder how exactly 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, PDFs, and 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 conduct the lessons, you have various options:
- Skype – Most popular for UK and American teachers but less 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. Still, if you have an audience of language learners, 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. For example, if you have a popular YouTube channel and Facebook page about learning to speak English, you can easily make hundreds of dollars by referring new students.
The positive of italki
The positive of italki is that you can get paid a much higher hourly rate than you would be working for an online teaching company. You also have the opportunity to teach adults more complex topics and test prep.
It’s also helpful because you can teach at various hours throughout the day, not just early morning, as many 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 throughout the day.
We preferred online teaching companies in the past for this reason. Still, with the new crackdown on online teaching in China, we’re sure italki and similar marketplaces now have more significant interest.
italki Review Conclusion
So that is it for Teach and GO’s italki review. If you want to take your online teaching to a more independent level and 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 client list of students – both young and old.
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Editorial StaffI'm David Unwin and I head the editorial staff here at Teach and GO. I've taught as an ESL teacher in Thailand for 5+ years at all levels of education, from elementary to University. I was also one of the first 1000 VIPKID teachers. I and my team now share my extensive experience as a teacher here at Teach and GO. Learn more.
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