“Oh Erin, hablas español?” Eeks! That is usually the first response in my head when someone asks me if I speak Spanish, in Spanish. Outwardly, I’ve gotten very good at saying “Un poco. Estoy aprendiendo…” (A little. I am learning…)
Although I did take French for about 6-7 years in middle and high school, you would not know it. Learning languages is a challenge for me. The accents, the vocabulary, the quickness your mind has to work to translate and respond, none of that is something that clicks easily for me. But despite all of that, Brice and I were determined to at least know some Spanish before we showed up to Central America.
Brice did some research of program options, from in-person classes in Portland to Rosetta Stone or other book/online competitors, but none really seemed to fit due to inconvenient schedules or the likelihood of never practicing with self-study options. Then Brice found iTalki, this online language program. We tried it out and were both totally sold.
Over the last few months, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about how I’ve been learning Spanish, or more accurately I unpromptedly will recommend iTalki to anyone who tells me they want to learn another language. So I decided to write this post to give the lowdown.
What is iTalki?
Unlike DuoLingo or Rosetta Stone, this is learning from a real person in a one-on-one setting via video chat.
Learn whatever language you want.
Obviously we chose Spanish, but they also offer pretty much any language you can think of – Mandarin, Arabic, French, even Sanskrit. Basically any language someone speaks and is willing to teach, you can learn via iTalki.
Pick the teacher that suits you and your learning style.
Want a native of Barcelona who specializes in beginners to teach you Spanish the way it is talked in Spain? No problem. Or do you prefer learning from someone from Colombia because that’s where you’re heading on vacation and you’d like to learn the lingo there? For sure.
Select whether you’re looking for a native speaker; if you want formal, structured lessons from a professional teacher or just informal chats to practice conversations; and even where they are located to fit the accent/dialect and even the time zone that you’re looking for.
Then check out the “intro videos” to learn more about each potential teacher. And definitely take advantage of the trial lesson which is 30 minutes at a reduced price to make sure you click with their teaching style as well!
I picked Clara, an awesome woman about my age who’s living in northern Argentina and also loves food and Crossfit! Our lessons were a nice mix of structured class covering vocab and verb conjugation to just chatting. Brice took lessons with Carolina, also from Argentina. Both of whom are awesome, patient and incredibly helpful.
All lessons are 1 on 1.
Yes, that definitely sounds daunting at first. But trust me, that is much better because you can tailor the lesson to your skill level, ask questions where you need without disrupting others, and more importantly you actually have to practice speaking! No hiding behind other students like I always did in high school.
In my lessons with Clara, it was about 95% Spanish, 5% English when I got really confused. But that was by my choice wanting a crash course. Because it is a 1:1 class, you can dictate that a lot more than in a class with 10 other students.
It is cheap.
Each teacher sets their own price but generally lessons are about $8-20 per hour. Talk about reasonable for getting private tutoring!
It is flexible.
It is all online via video chat, so you can pick the time and date that works for you! Plus, you can take the class wherever you prefer, whether that’s at home or in your office. No need to sit in traffic for an extra hour after work to get to class and then not paying attention because you’re already tired from the day, irritated from the commute and starving. (Or at least that was my concern with doing an in-person class!)
Be like Brice and take daily lessons for one hour a day, or be like me and only take them once a week. (Then compare how good you both are, like we did. Despite him taking 4 more classes per week, we were about the same level, ha!) Whatever works for you!
It is fun!
Learning is hard and attempting to speak a language you don’t really know for an hour straight is both intimidating and tiring.
But that being said, I overall really enjoyed my lessons with Clara. While we did spend a good amount of time with her correcting my grammar and pronunciation, we also just had fun conversations about life in Argentina, traveling the world, movies we liked and of course Crossfit. All the while, I was practicing my Spanish (sure, it was a really slow conversation but we were still talking!).
And I now can say I have “survival Spanish” down: I can order food, buy groceries, get a taxi, and understand the workout at Crossfit. I can ask questions but don’t always understand the answer given, especially when the person talks fast! So I am by no means fully proficient yet, but iTalki has given me a good baseline of verbs and vocab, and just all around made me A LOT more confident when speaking.
Interested? Use this link to get yourself $10 in credit for your first lesson!
(No, this post isn’t sponsored, I’m just a big fan and why not share the love with a discount code too?!)
Now go get learning so we can practice and talk broken Spanish together 🙂