The tool I want to talk about is a page called italki. I am certain that there are a lot of similar websites out there that work in the same way, so even if you don't use this websites, I am sure that these tips will be helpful to you. italki is a website designed for language learners. It basically enables communication with people around the world who want to learn a language as well in various forms. There are features on this site that you have to pay for, but I work with it without any expenses and this is what I want to talk about today.
After you have registered to italki and probably set up a profile about yourself and your language interests, you can see a lot of different options on the website.
Starting with what I use the most frequently, there is the notebook, answer and discussion feature. They both work similar. You have a virtual notebook what you can fill with entries in any language you learn. Once you wrote an entry, people who speak this language can look over your entry and correct what you wrote. They sometimes also give tips on what you could improve. Writing notebook entries practices your writing skills. I try to write an at least one- paragraph notebook entry every day and try to understand the corrections made to it.
You can also ask a question about a language's grammar or vocabulary or about a certain culture. So, this tool is more designed for specific issues, you might have with a language.Various people will answer the question, so you can pick what helps you most. The cultural aspect makes language learning often a lot more interesting and intriguing, what this feature helps with. The discussion feature is usually about more general questions that people might have different opinions about.
Another way to improve you language process specifically is the article collections. Articles are explanations or tips for a certain language. An article might explain the past tense of a language to you, give a list of useful holiday phrases or offer general tips for practicing a language vocally. Articles can also be commented what leads to a lot of tips being offered there. Article are often written by professional teachers.
These are teachers that you also can schedule language learning lessons with. This is the part of italki that costs money. I never use this feature.
Instead, there is the feature to find language partners. You can filter the person according to their gender, age, language, target language and country of residence. This way, you can easily find a lot of people who you can practice with. Usually, you will search for a partner who is very good in your target language and wants to practice your mother tongue or another language you are good at. You can than contact the person and start a conversation with them. This can be either on italki or another platform for written conversation or on skype or another video chatting tool. Written conversation improves both your reading and writing skills. In contrast to notebook entries, however, you practice writing in a more flexible manner, since you have to respond to your partner's message and cannot write about anything you want. Usually, you will correct each other's writing and give tips here as well.
If you decide to practice spoken conversation, you can schedule a meeting on skype or a similar platform. Like the written conversation practice, I have made the experience that it works best when the partners correct each other. Moreover, I find it best when the time talking is split in half to give each partner an equal amount of speaking time. When having a conversation, you practice your listening and speaking skills, what also includes your pronunciation.
Personally, I have language partners who I speak with and those who I write with exclusively. Since you usually get a lot of language partner requests, you have to filter who you want to keep practicing with after a few messages.
Both conversation feature usually also convey knowledge about the receptive cultures.
I find italki to be a really helpful language tool because it is free, flexible and real. You can definitely use it a lot for free and don't have to purchase costly language resources. Together with online dictionaries and grammar sources, language learning comes out to be completely free.
Italki is also flexible in the way, that you are not bound to a certain teacher because it is the only one in your town but you can choose from an abundance of different language partners to find the one that you can work with the best. When using other features, you usually get at lest a few different responses what gives you a broader and more flexible view on the language.
What I, however, enjoy most about using italki is that it is real. It is not a constructed language book that makes you learn words and grammar in a certain order and a certain way and offers artificially constructed sentences to teach you parts of the language. Instead, you communicate with real people, who usually live in the country you are interested in (mostly) about real things. You learn by doing and learn the things you actually need. This way, italki allows you to make really quick progress and be able to hold actual conversations.
All in all, I can recommend giving italki a try for everyone who is seriously interested in learning languages.
Below, I also linked a few other online language learning resources that work similar to italki:
Have a nice day.