Honest italki Review – Read Before Applying! (2022)

italki logo

italki Review Summary

italki is one of the largest teacher marketplaces, with 5 million adult and child students from 100+ countries. It hires Near-Native Speakers in 150+ languages with no qualifications, charging a flat 15% commission with 0% on trials. The application process is quick and easy, though there is competition for bookings.

Pay (per hour):$5-80*
Native / Non-Native Speakers accepted?Near-Native
TEFL / TESOL / CELTA required?No
Degree / diploma required?No
Adult / child students?Both
Class size:1
Minimum hours (per week):0
*$9.79-$15.73 average for English/ESL teachers

italki Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • No commission fee for trial lessons (unlike Preply) and the standard 15% rate is lower than other marketplaces
  • Short and simple application process (especially for Community Tutors), with no italki teaching demo or interview
  • Choice of different video platforms for teaching
  • One of the largest teacher marketplaces, with over 5 million students

Cons:

  • Still have to pay a commission fee of 15% on standard lessons
  • Restrictive cancellation policy
  • Bookings can be irregular, with lots of teacher competition
  • Teachers have to prepare their own lesson materials

What Is italki and Is italki Legit?

italki is a legitimate language learning platform with a Trustpilot score of 4.8 out of 5. Founded in 2007, they have grown to become one of the world’s largest marketplaces for online language teachers, with 5 million students from 100+ countries being taught by over 5,000 italki teachers and tutors.

Is italki a Chinese Company?

The italki headquarters is in Hong Kong, not mainland China, and as their 5,000,000+ students come from over 100 countries around the world, they are not as affected by the 2021 changes in regulations brought about by the Chinese Central Government.

What Languages Does italki Have?

italki language learning provides tutoring for over 150 languages. The most popular languages being studied on the platform are English/ESL, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, and German.

italki Community Tutor vs Professional Teacher

italki recruits two different types of educator. Depending on your experience and qualifications, you may apply to join as either a ‘Professional Teacher’ or a ‘Community Tutor’.

What Is a Community Tutor on italki?

A Community Tutor on italki must be a Native or Near-Native Speaker of at least 18 years of age, who enjoys teaching informally. Community Tutors usually earn less than Professional Teachers, but they can be upgraded if they meet the criteria later.

What Is a Professional Teacher on italki?

A Professional Teacher on italki must meet the same requirements as a Community Tutor, but additionally they need to be professionally certified or experienced in teaching a language as a foreign or second language. This has to be evidenced by providing scanned documentation (e.g. an accredited certificate or proof of relevant employment such as a reference letter). Professional Teachers can often charge more than Community Tutors.

How Much Do You Get Paid at italki?

Being a marketplace, teachers set their own italki hourly rate. This can range anywhere between US$5-$80 per hour, from the cheapest to the most-expensive tutors on the platform.

The italki average pay for an English Professional Teacher is $15.73 per hour, while the equivalent italki Community Tutor pay is $9.79.

There is no italki bonus for teachers/tutors (there is a student referral program).

How Much Does italki Take?

A downside of the teacher marketplace business model is the commission fees that are deducted from a tutor’s earnings for the privilege of promoting their classes to students on the platform. Unlike some competitors (i.e. Preply) there is no italki commission fee on trial lessons. For regular classes, the italki percentage is 15% (rounded up).

How Does italki Payment Work?

There are two italki payment methods: PayPal and Payoneer.

A withdrawal can be requested from the ‘My Wallet‘ page of the teacher dashboard. The balance must be at least $30, which is the minimum amount that can be withdrawn.

The italki PayPal fees are 1.5% for using that payment service via Hyperwallet.

italki Payoneer users may receive their earnings into their Payoneer account, or use the service to have them relayed to a bank account. The italki fees differ depending on which option is chosen:

  1. Payoneer account = $3 flat fee
  2. Bank transfer through Payoneer:
    • transfers to US banks = $1.50 flat fee
    • transfers to non-US banks in local currency = $3 flat fee + Payoneer currency conversion rate (up to 3.5%)
    • transfers to non-US banks in USD = $15 flat fee (additional intermediary bank fees or loading fees may apply)

When Does italki Pay?

italki teacher pay is processed twice a month (going by Coordinated Universal Time):

  • Withdrawals requested between the 1st-15th of the month = payment between the 16th-26th
  • Withdrawals requested between the 16th and the 31st of the month = payment between the 1st-10th of the next month

You may only request to withdraw your italki earnings once per payment cycle (any additional withdrawals will be treated as an edit of the original request).

italki Hours

As the company has students in over 100 countries around the world, italki tutoring can be scheduled 24/7.

There are no minimum or maximum hours requirements in order to teach with italki.

Here are the italki peak hours for students in different countries (though you are not obliged to teach then, you may find more success if you are available at these times):

If you are logged into the italki classroom, with at least 40 minutes free until your next class, then you can enable ‘instant lessons’ (which replaced italki instant tutoring), though this option is currently limited to 30-minute trial lessons:

How Long Are italki Lessons?

italki trial lessons are 30-minutes long, but teachers can choose to offer 45, 60 or 90 minutes for their regular classes.

italki Cancellation Policy

italki tutors and students may only request to cancel or reschedule a lesson once. This must take place at least 24 hours in advance, and the other party must agree to the request, otherwise the class will continue as originally scheduled.

Requirements for Teaching on italki

The italki teacher requirements differ depending on whether you are applying to become a ‘Community Tutor’ or a ‘Professional Teacher’ on the platform.

The italki Community Tutor requirements are:

  • italki minimum age = 18 years or over
  • Native or Near-Native Speaker
  • Enjoys teaching informally

There are additional italki requirements to become a Professional Teacher:

  • italki minimum age = 18 years or over
  • Native or Near-Native Speaker
  • Professionally certified or experienced in teaching a language as a second or foreign language (with scanned evidence)

Do You Need a Degree to Teach on italki?

You do not need a degree or other specific qualifications to teach on italki. If you want to join as a Professional Teacher and have no demonstrable experience in language instruction, then you will have to provide an accredited teaching certificate.

italki Technical Requirements

Your computer must have a microphone, a webcam, and a stable internet connection (headphones are recommended).

italki online teaching can be conducted through any of the following video platforms:

Is italki Accepting New Teachers?

You can check to see if italki is accepting applications for teachers in your language by visiting this page. Unless your language is specifically listed as ‘Closed’, you are free to apply. The list is updated every Monday.

How To Become a Teacher on italki

Before you begin your italki application, first check to see if your language is open for applications. If it is, then visit the italki teacher sign up page on your computer (not a phone or tablet), tick the box to ‘agree to allow italki or its third-party vendor to perform an ID verification check‘ and ‘Start Your Application’.

A pop-up will ask you to create an account with either your:

You have to agree to receive ’emails featuring teacher recommendations, learning tips, and occasional italki promotions’ before it will allow you to press the ‘Sign Up’ button.

You will then be asked the following italki questions:

  • What language would you like to teach?
  • What is your Native language?
  • In what country is your current Location?

Once you have confirmed your email address, you then select whether you are applying to be a Community Tutor or a Professional Teacher; this is the more-extensive italki application form you will have to fill in for the latter position:

  1. Personal Details
    1. Basic Information
    2. Private
      • First name
      • Last name
      • Birthday
      • Gender
      • Street Address
    3. Language Skills
      • Languages
      • Levels
    4. italki Teacher Profile Photo
      • At least 500 x 500 pixels
      • JPG, PNG and BMP formats only
      • Maximum size of 2MB
      • does not show other people
      • is not too close or too far away
      • shows eyes and face clearly
      • is clear and has good lighting
      • is friendly and personable
  2. italki Teaching Profile
    1. Teaching Languages
    2. Video Introduction – follow the italki video requirements:
      • File size may not exceed 500 MB
      • For the best result, the video aspect ratio should be 16:9
      • It shows you fluently speaking the language of instruction
      • It is filmed horizontally
      • Its time length is approximately 1-4 minutes
      • It has good lighting and clear sound
      • It does NOT include personal contact information or external advertisements
      • Tick ‘I have a webcam and I can offer video-based lessons’
      • Tick ‘I’m aware that if my introduction video does not meet italki’s requirements, my application may be rejected. Additionally, I agree to italki publishing my introduction video to italki’s official channels on third-party video hosting and streaming services, such as YouTube, Vimeo, Youku, or others, as to ensure accessibility and visibility to italki students regardless of location’
    3. Teacher Introduction
      • About Me (700 characters max.)
      • Me as a Teacher (700 characters max.)
      • My lessons & teaching style (700 characters max.)
      • My teaching material (e.g. flashcards, quizzes, presentation slides/PPT, etc.)
    4. Professional Teaching Background
      1. Education
        • Dates From and To
        • Institution
        • Major / Topic
        • Degree
        • Description (Optional, 500 characters max.)
        • Attachment (PDF or JPG file, Max 2MB)
      2. Work Experience
        • Dates From and To
        • Company
        • Position
        • Country/Region
        • City
        • Description (Optional, 500 characters max.)
      3. Certificates
        • Date
        • Certificate Name
        • Institution
        • Description (Optional, 500 characters max.)
        • Attachment (PDF or JPG file, Max 2MB)

‘Agree to Teacher Terms of Service’ and submit.

Here are two videos that might help when recording your italki introduction video, one covering the company’s guidelines and another providing an example from a successful italki teacher:

How Do I Become a Community Tutor on italki?

The italki Community Tutor application form is shorter than the Professional Teacher one, as there is no Teaching Profile section or video introduction to complete:

  1. Personal Details
    1. Basic Information
    2. Private
      • First name
      • Last name
      • Birthday
      • Gender
      • Street Address
    3. Language Skills
      • Languages
      • Levels
    4. italki Tutor Profile Photo
      • At least 500 x 500 pixels
      • JPG, PNG and BMP formats only
      • Maximum size of 2MB
      • does not show other people
      • is not too close or too far away
      • shows eyes and face clearly
      • is clear and has good lighting
      • is friendly and personable

Is It Easy to Become a Teacher on italki?

It is relatively easy to become a teacher on italki as there is no italki interview or teaching demo, and the application form is simple and straightforward (and even shorter for Community Tutors who also do not have to record an introduction video).

An italki teacher handbook is available to help new teachers get started with their italki profile, calendar, marketing and payments.

How Long Does It Take to Get Hired on italki?

It can take up to 10 business days for your italki teacher application to be reviewed. Once you receive the pre-approval email, you have another 15 calendar days to complete the onboarding process by:

  1. Uploading your identity document
  2. Watching the Teacher Success tutorial videos
  3. Completing the guided tutorials to set up your account
  4. Passing the quizzes

Should you have your italki application declined due to the volume of applicants, then the company may reconsider your candidacy and contact you again at a later date should student demand increase. This does not prohibit you from reapplying in the future (once 1 month has passed), and we know teachers have been accepted on their second or third attempt.

Teaching on italki

Teaching with italki is conducted one-on-one, with students of any age (though more commonly adults).

Does italki Provide Lesson Plans?

No italki lesson plans are provided, but there is a resources page to help put together your own italki materials to use.

Some of the requests will be for italki informal tutoring, which requires no prep as this is primarily conversational practice.

What Platform Does italki Use? Can You Use Zoom on italki?

Alongside the in-house italki platform, teachers are allowed to use a variety of external video conferencing services for their lessons (with agreement from the student):

To better understand some of its functionality, here is an italki classroom tutorial video:

italki teacher support can be found here or through support@italki.com.

How Do I Get Students on italki?

Here is a list of italki tips that the company provides on how to use italki effectively:

  1. Profile
    1. Update a professional-looking profile – avoid spelling mistakes, have a high-quality profile picture and video introduction that show you professionally.
    2. Write an effective short introduction – Include as much information about yourself, what kind of students you can help, and what your lessons will be like. If you have experience teaching students from a certain country or language, write a sentence in their language.
  2. Price and lessons
    1. Offer a competitive price
    2. Offer package deals
    3. Offer trial lessons
    4. Update calendar regularly and set more available slots
  3. Activity
    1. Contribute to italki Community – Help students with corrections and answer their questions. Your potential student may not be the person asking a question, but another person who is reading your answer to the question.
    2. Write clear and detailed class descriptions – Be detailed and concrete so students know exactly what they are buying when they use their credits on your lessons or packages.  Tell the students what new words, grammar, or skills they will learn and how they will use them.  Many students don’t know how to organize their time or what to focus on.  When you schedule lessons or, even better, a series of lessons in a package, you help the student by giving them deadlines and a clear focus.
    3. Ask for referrals from happy students – If the student is very happy with you as a teacher, they would probably love to tell their friends about you.  Especially if they’ve just achieved an important goal or are finishing their lessons with you, let them know that if they are happy working with you, that you would be very glad if they would recommend you to others.  Think of how you feel when you know of someone or something that you can confidently recommend to your friends.

Working for italki – italki Teacher Reviews

The italki Glassdoor page gives the company an average rating of 4.3 out of 5, with 84% willing to recommend them to a friend.

Those with a positive italki experience to share praise the quick application process, good interface, no commission on trials, students from all over the world, and flexibility when deciding one’s pay, schedule, and lesson structure.

The biggest complaints that come up in these reviews of italki are the irregularity of bookings, competition from new tutors, 15% commission rate, slow payment system, and impact of the search algorithm on profile visibility.

Here is a balanced sample of recent italki reviews:

Conclusion – Is It Worth Teaching on italki?

We are not usually fans of teacher marketplaces, but italki seems to be one of the better ones. Not only is their commission rate lower than most competitors, but they also do not retain anything from trial lessons. Teachers still have to put in extra work to create materials and market themselves, and booking rates are irregular due to the amount of competition. However, the simple application process makes them a handy fallback option to pick up some extra hours here and there.

You can apply to teach on italki here.

A list of non-China companies can be found here.

To help update this article, share your experiences, or suggest other companies to review, please use the contact form.