#135 - The Pros and Cons of Teaching English on Italki

May 18, 2022

Before I had started my podcast and built my own website, I decided to teach English on Italki, a popular platform for finding teachers to give you private language classes. I'm not a fan of the platform and I don't teach there anymore, but I still think it could be a decent option for many people depending on their current situation and goals. In this episode, I talk about the pros and cons of teaching on Italki.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Animated subtitles will appear when you press 'play'
You must be a community member to see the complete animated transcript.
Already a member? Log in
Key Vocabulary & Grammar Guide
Download the VIP
Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to be talking about the pros and the cons of teaching English on Italki. Let's do it.

[00:00:18] All right. Back in 2018, I had a YouTube channel on which I taught Brazilians how to speak English. Eventually, one of my subscribers asked me if I gave private classes online, and before that moment, I had never even considered the possibility of teaching one on one classes, much less online. I mean, I just wanted to get paid to make cool YouTube videos. But after doing some research, I figured it could be a pretty good opportunity to grow as a teacher and get paid while doing it. So I signed up for Italki and started giving online classes.

[00:00:49] And after about two years on the platform, I gained the knowledge and experience that I needed to create my own language education platform and teach English in a more interesting and effective way. So in this episode, I'm going to talk about my experience teaching English on Italki and the pros and cons of working on the platform. So let's start with the pros, the positives, the good things about teaching English on Italki or any language, let's say. 

[00:01:15] Number one, and these are in no particular order, by the way. So, number one, there's an abundance of students on Italki. So Italki is a great option for teachers who don't have the time, money, or experience to market themselves online. And since Italki is essentially an online international marketplace, that means that there are people on that website every day looking to buy what you're selling. It's like opening a store inside a shopping mall. All day, everyday people are walking by your store, and that means you're constantly exposed to potential customers. So if you teach a language that's in demand and you have a nice profile and your hourly rates are competitive, you'll inevitably start getting students who want to learn from you.

[00:02:00] The second pro or benefit or good thing about teaching on Italki is that you choose your own hourly rate. You choose how much money you make. Because unlike working for traditional language schools, you get to decide how much you make per hour or per week or per month or whatever it is. You decide that. Now, of course, you've got to price yourself according to the market, but at least you get to make the final decision on how much money you will make in compensation for your work. You know what I'm saying? Because if you're working for a school or some other company, it doesn't matter how good you are, how experienced you are, like... Or nothing else matters. They decide this is your salary and that's just what it is.

[00:02:44] But when you work for yourself as an independent teacher on Italki, you get to choose. You want to make $10, 15, $50 an hour. It's up to you, you know? Which takes me to the next pro or benefit of teaching on Italki, which is you get to set your own schedule. Now, back in 2019, I took a three-month trip to Brazil and I was able to continue making money while I was there, thanks to Italki and my own website. And since I could set my own schedule, I decided that I would work from Monday to Wednesday and I'd do whatever I wanted from Thursday to Sunday. Right? 

[00:03:20] Now, of course, this change in schedule didn't work for some of my students that I already had. But most of them understood and they adapted to my new schedule. And my priority was being able to enjoy my time in Brazil. So I was fine losing a few students temporarily because I knew it wouldn't affect my long-term goals either way. And due to that abundance of potential students I mentioned earlier, I knew that I'd continue to receive new students if I just kept getting good reviews. I'll talk more about the review system in a little bit.

[00:03:50] Now, another pro of teaching or Italki is that you don't necessarily have to have a degree or certification to teach on their platform. Now, this one is seen as a positive and a negative, depending on who you ask. Because on Italki you can be one of two kinds of teachers. The first one, a professional teacher. That's the title that they give you. And for that, you would need to have a degree or some special certification like the TEFL or TESOL, or something like that. Or you can be a community tutor, which is essentially a native speaker who's willing to help foreigners improve their skills simply by talking to them on a regular basis.

[00:04:25] Now, just in case you're wondering, they're both paid positions. And you can charge as much as you want for either position. The difference, I suppose, is just the perceived value of each position or title. Because some people insist on working with professional teachers that have been certified by an institution or other people really don't care what your credentials are. They just want you to talk to them and correct their mistakes. Now, me for example, I have zero teaching degrees or certifications, but I was still able to fill my schedule with motivated students who were eager to learn from me, and they valued the work that I did.

[00:05:00] I'm not going to lecture you at all about this point here, but the last thing I'll say is that you don't need a teaching degree to be a great teacher, but you do need to know what you're talking about. You know what I'm saying? I lost my place in my notes. Hang on. Ah, yeah. You don't need a degree to be a great teacher, but you do need to know what you're talking about. Simply being a native speaker doesn't mean you know how to teach people your language. You still need to take it upon yourself to do research, study your language, and experiment with different teaching methods until you find one that's truly effective for you. And it goes without saying that if people are paying you money for a service, then they expect you to know what you're doing, right? 

[00:05:41] So moving on to the next pro and that is you get to meet people from all over the world, bro. Apart from being able to work from anywhere in the world, you get to meet all these different people. Like, I've taught people from Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Tanzania, France, Russia, Mozambique, China, Morocco, and the list goes on and on and on. My appreciation of culture and different communication styles has grown so deeply over the last few years. Now, although challenging, it's been nothing short of a privilege to have been able to speak with people from so many different walks of life. Some of my students have ended up becoming great friends and others have gone as far as taking me out to lunch and inviting me into their homes when I visited their country. One of them even took me to the local hospital and let me use his health insurance when I got terribly sick.

[00:06:31] The entire world is learning to speak English. It's become the international language of business and travel. And by teaching English on Italki or online in general, you'll end up making connections with people from every corner of the earth. And you just never know how those connections will impact your life over time. Now, I said here "teaching English", you know, the world is learning English. But any language, whatever language you speak as your first language, you can teach it on this website. There's somebody out there that would like to learn it. You know what I'm saying?

[00:07:01] So just to recap some of the pros of teaching on Italki. Number one, there's an abundance of students. So this is a great option if you don't know anything about marketing or you don't have the time or money to invest in marketing. You just want to make your profile and have people come to you. Italki is a great option. Any website like Italki, any marketplace where the people come to you, I think that's what you need. Another benefit, you choose how much money you make. If you want to make 5, 10, 15, or $50 an hour or per class, you decide that not some other institution. You see? 

[00:07:37] Another pro, you set your own schedule. You can work 2 hours in the morning, 6 hours in the afternoon, 1 hour in the evening. You can work Monday, Thursday and Saturday. It's up to you. So you can actually do this as like, a side hustle or a second job and maintain your day job if you really want. And I just think that's really beneficial because if you work for a school, they expect you to be there every day, most likely for 4 to 8 hours. Right? So setting your own schedule and controlling your time is a huge benefit, in my opinion.

[00:08:06] Next, you don't have to have a degree or certification to teach on this platform. Now, this one, again, is a positive or a negative, depending on who you ask. But just because you have a degree doesn't mean you're a great teacher. And just because you don't have one doesn't mean you're a shitty teacher. It's really about your ability and skill individually. And I don't think that's connected to whether or not you have a certification. So, the cool thing is if you're just a naturally great teacher and you're passionate about teaching your language, you don't have to go to school and get this degree just to do that. And I think that's a huge benefit for anybody who wants to make some extra money, get some teaching experience and meet new people.

[00:08:43] Now lastly, you get to meet people from all over the world, man. And, you know, maybe you're not interested in that. Maybe you don't care. But to me, that's amazing. There's nothing cooler than making connections with people from other countries and actually making friends all over the world. That is something so priceless to me, man. I really can't even express it any better with words, but I'm sure you get the point.

[00:09:04] So now let's move on to the cons. Let's move on to the negative aspects of teaching English on this website. The first one, again, in no particular order. Number one, Italki takes 15% of your money off the top. Now, I'm not sure if this number has changed since I stopped teaching on Italki back in 2020. But when I was using the platform, Italki charged a service fee of 15%. That means for every $100 that you make, Italki takes 15 of them off the top. And when I say 'off the top', I mean first before anything else happens. So you have a stack of dollar bills, for example, there's 100 of them. They're going to take 15 off the top and then you get the rest.

[00:09:51] So the first thing that happens is they take 15%. That's what I mean. To me, that's just a ridiculously high service fee. Ridiculously high. Especially when you consider the value of exchange, right? Like, Italki has brought the student to me. But after that, you'll have almost zero support from Italki. You work with the student, you keep the student coming back to the platform, and Italki sides with the student if there should ever be a dispute between the two of you. And for that, they expect 15% of everything you earn on their platform. And that's 15% on top of the 3% you'll be giving PayPal. And that's also after 2 to 3 weeks of waiting for your money to arrive in your fucking account.

[00:10:36] Now, Italki says they do payouts every 15 days, which means, let's say for the past two weeks you've been having a lot of classes and you're getting paid for those classes, that money sits in your Italki wallet or your account, and you have to transfer that money from Italki to your bank account or to PayPal and then to your bank account. You see what I'm saying? But what they neglect to mention on the website is that it typically takes 7 to 10 business days for them to transfer your money to your PayPal account after the PayPal... Or excuse me, after the payout has been started. And after that, you need to transfer your money from your PayPal account to your bank account.

[00:11:09] Now, you do have the option to request an expedited transfer or simply deposit the money directly into your bank account. But you'd have to pay more money for that. Now, for some people, this isn't a con at all. But for me, it made much more sense to create my own platform and take complete control of my revenue, my profit, my client relationships, my marketing, and my branding. It's certainly more work, but it's also much more lucrative. But my way of teaching has evolved far beyond the limits of Italki, so I'll save that for a different episode. But just know Italki takes 15% of everything you earn on their platform. To me, that's fucking ridiculous. But you can decide whether or not that's a pro or con or neither, I guess. All right? 

[00:11:53] But let's move on to the next one, and that is Italki makes the final decision in disputes with students and they typically side with the student. So let me give you an example. Let's say you and your student agreed to meet for a class on Thursday at 7 pm. But your student doesn't show up for class on Thursday at 7 pm. What happens next? You notify Italki of the problem. You let them know how you'd like to proceed, whether or not you'd like to reschedule the class or get the payment for the class anyway. Because you were there at the agreed time and they weren't. So you still need to be paid. You let them know whatever you want to do and how you want to proceed.

[00:12:30] And then Italki reaches out to the student and they do the same thing. They ask them how they'd like to proceed. They ask for an explanation of their absence and stuff like that. And the student has three days to explain their absence and decide how they would like to proceed. Now, you have no control over the outcome of this dispute. Italki employees will arbitrarily decide on the resolution themselves. And in my experience, regardless of the situation, Italki will typically choose whichever resolution favors the student. Because at the end of the day, Italki needs students to keep using their platform. They need the students to keep coming back, right? 

[00:13:07] So in any dispute, any conflict, they're going to side with the student to make sure that they have a great experience and they come back to the platform. Hopefully, you get what I'm trying to say. But in my opinion, having a judge that's incentivized to rule in favor of one particular party is like a huge conflict of interest. It just doesn't seem right to me. Now, I understand there maybe isn't a better solution or a better way of handling problems like this. But I just think when you take your destiny into your own hands or you teach on your own platform and you manage the relationship with your, your clients, or your students, you just have more control. When you teach on Italki you don't have that control, you know? 

[00:13:51] Because in that particular situation that I mentioned, if we agree to meet for class and I show up for class and you don't, I should still be paid because that's an hour of my time that could have been given to another student or I could have kept for myself and done other things. So you had me show up at this time and dedicate an hour of my day. One out of only 24 to you and you didn't show up. I should be paid for that, you know? And when you teach on your own platform, you can receive your money upfront. And when I say 'upfront', that means it's similar to off the top. But upfront is like from the very beginning before we do anything else, you're going to pay for the class first, then we meet for class.

[00:14:31] Whereas on Italki, the student pays for the class, but Italki holds the money until the class is confirmed completed, then they transfer it to you. Right? They're the middle man, in that case. The man or the person in the middle of two parties doing a transaction. That's the middle man. And I just really dislike that structure, that way of doing things, which is why or it's one of the reasons I stopped teaching on that platform. Ok?

[00:14:55] But anyway, let's move on to the next con, which is the scheduling system has limited flexibility. And when I was using the platform Italki only allowed you to schedule classes in 30 or 60-minute blocks of time and you can only have a class at the top of the hour, like 7 pm, for example. Or in the middle of the hour, like 7:30 pm, for example. You couldn't schedule a class at 7:15 or 7:45 or 7:50 or anything like that. And you also couldn't give yourself any buffer between classes. So what I mean is like, with a website or an app like Acuity or Calendly or something like that, in the settings for those websites you can make it so that if somebody schedules a class at 7:00 pm and it's a 30-minute class, you can set the calendar in a particular way where somebody can schedule a class from 7 to 7:30, but somebody can't schedule a class from 7:30 to 8.

[00:15:50] You can put a ten-minute buffer in there, which means they could only schedule the class at 7:40, not 7:30. And that gives you time to breathe, get some water, use the restroom, get something to eat, or whatever. You just have time to like, regroup before your next class. You can't do that on Italki. It is a totally normal thing for 8 people to schedule 8 classes in a row. From 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6, 7, 8, 9 pm. And there's no break in between those classes because the scheduling system doesn't allow for that. It's just class after class after class after class. And I just really didn't like that. I didn't like that. The limited flexibility in terms of scheduling, you know? It might not be a pro or con for you, but it was for me.

[00:16:31] So the next con is that you must follow their rules and regulations on their platform. And I know this one sounds pretty obvious. I mean, it's their platform, you have to follow their rules. It's just the way it is. But one rule that I found particularly annoying is that if a teacher doesn't respond to a class request within three days, the teacher gets a mark on their record. Every time this happens, you're expected to send an email to Italki explaining why you didn't answer the request in time and how you'll make sure it won't happen again. And if you get two or three of these marks on your record, Italki will simply remove your profile from the search results on their website.

[00:17:08] So you'll be able to book classes with your previous students, but new students won't be able to find you anymore. And Italki's logic is if you're leaving students on read, let's say, if you're ignoring their requests, they're going to have a bad experience and go to another platform. And they don't want that. Right? And if you're not responding to the requests, you must not be available. So they're going to make sure you stay unavailable until you convince them otherwise. That's their logic. That's their rationale and their way of doing things. So your whole teaching business could be tanked because you neglected to respond to a message in the time that Italki deems sufficient.

[00:17:44] Now, of course, as a professional, you should be responding to all messages and requests in a timely fashion. But the idea that somebody else could literally disrupt your entire livelihood never sat right with me. I didn't like that, you know? Speaking of search results, the next con on the list is that your rank in the search results is totally beyond your control. There's nothing you can do about it. Because Italki functions and serves as a search engine really. The same way you go on Amazon and search for a product, people go on Italki and search for a teacher. Right? Now, I have no idea how their algorithm works, but the fact is that there are hundreds, if not thousands of teachers on the platform and you have no control over whether or not you show up on the first page or the ninety-ninth page.

[00:18:30] Although I completely understand that not everyone can show up on the first page, I prefer to take more control over where I show up, for who I show up, and how I'm able to present myself to them. And again, this takes a lot more work than simply creating an Italki profile, but to me, it's worth it. It's totally worth it. Ok? Which kind of brings me to the next con. On Italki your options for marketing yourself are extremely limited. There's no real way to market yourself on Italki when I really think about it. Because we just talked about the fact that you might be showing up on the last page of search results when someone is looking for a teacher. Right? And you know nobody is going to page 99. Nobody's going to page 2 most of the time when they're searching for something. Right? 

[00:19:16] So how can you attract students to your profile and convince them to give you a chance if you're showing up on page 99 of search results, right? I mean, you might be able to make a post on the Italki Community Forum. You might be able to correct people's mistakes and teach them a lesson, or simply tell them that you offer private classes there in the forum. But that's not really what the forum is for. A forum isn't a place to promote yourself, it's a place to help other people. Right? Now, obviously, if teaching online is a side hustle for you, then you might not worry as much about marketing, SEO, profit margins, and things like that.

[00:19:52] But if you're treating this like a business, then you might consider doing your own thing and learning to drive traffic to your own platform so that you're control... Excuse me, you're in control of your own destiny. You're in control of your profit. You're in control of your schedule, your branding, your marketing, all that. You're in control. I just don't like my destiny being in somebody else's hands. I don't like that idea. And I know that in many other aspects of life, my destiny is in someone else's hands. But hopefully, you get what I'm trying to say. In the context of business, working for yourself to me it's just so much better to be in complete control of the situation. You know? So...

[00:20:31] So there you go. Those are all the cons that I thought of. Let me just recap really, really quickly. Number one, Italki takes 15% of every dollar that you earn on their platform. Number two, Italki makes the final decision in disputes between you and students and they typically side with the student. Number three, the scheduling system on their website has very limited flexibility. Number four, you must follow their regulations and rules on their platform, no matter how fucking ridiculous those rules and regulations are. Number five, your search or excuse me, your rank in the search results is beyond your control. Number six, options for marketing yourself on the platform are also extremely limited.

[00:21:10] To me, all of these things were enough to convince me to go do my own thing and create my own website. Lifeinenglish.net. All right? So that's pretty much it, man. I look at teaching English on Italki like renting a very expensive room in someone else's house. Creating and operating your own website or business is like building a house from the ground up. And both options have their pros and cons. You just have to decide which one makes more sense for you. You know? So these days, I wouldn't recommend anybody teach on Italki if they're trying to teach full time and like, start a real business. I would say, do the extra work to create your own platform, your own audience, your own following, do your own marketing and call people to you that way.

[00:21:58] But, you know, different people have different preferences or personalities or time constraints, money constraints. So Italki can be a good option if you just wanna make some extra money or teach part-time, get a little bit of experience. That's cool. And I actually think you should probably start there just to see if you even like it before you invest all the time and energy to creating your own platform and website and YouTube channel and all these things. It's actually good to get the basic experience just teaching on some platform where there are already hundreds or thousands of students looking to buy what you're selling. You know? 

[00:22:30] So that's it, man. Those are the pros and cons of teaching English on Italki, or at least the ones I could think of. But if you have any experience teaching on Italki or if you've taken classes on Italki, I'd love to know about your experience. So if you're watching this on YouTube, leave your experience or your comments or thoughts in the comments section below. Or if you're just listening, you can hit me up on social media at Englishwithkaizen on pretty much all social media platforms. Or if you're a member of the community, hit me up on Discord and let me know what you think about this episode, man.

[00:23:00] But that's it for now, my friend. Hopefully, you enjoyed the episode. Those were the pros and cons of teaching English or any language on Italki. I hope you enjoyed it and got some things to think about. And if you, if you're planning to teach your language independently on Italki or your own website or whatever, and you need some advice, you'd like to learn from my experiences and things like that, don't hesitate to send me a message on one of those platforms I just mentioned, and it would be my pleasure to help you out and talk to you more about my experience. But that's it for now. That is Life in English number 134, I'm pretty sure. Yes. Number 134 in the books. I will definitely talk to you all soon. All right? Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

Continue learning

Become a member and get access to the complete transcript, vocabulary guide, and writing prompts.

Become a member

Already a member? Log in

[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to be talking about the pros and the cons of teaching English on Italki. Let's do it.

[00:00:18] All right. Back in 2018, I had a YouTube channel on which I taught Brazilians how to speak English. Eventually, one of my subscribers asked me if I gave private classes online, and before that moment, I had never even considered the possibility of teaching one on one classes, much less online. I mean, I just wanted to get paid to make cool YouTube videos. But after doing some research, I figured it could be a pretty good opportunity to grow as a teacher and get paid while doing it. So I signed up for Italki and started giving online classes.

[00:00:49] And after about two years on the platform, I gained the knowledge and experience that I needed to create my own language education platform and teach English in a more interesting and effective way. So in this episode, I'm going to talk about my experience teaching English on Italki and the pros and cons of working on the platform. So let's start with the pros, the positives, the good things about teaching English on Italki or any language, let's say. 

[00:01:15] Number one, and these are in no particular order, by the way. So, number one, there's an abundance of students on Italki. So Italki is a great option for teachers who don't have the time, money, or experience to market themselves online. And since Italki is essentially an online international marketplace, that means that there are people on that website every day looking to buy what you're selling. It's like opening a store inside a shopping mall. All day, everyday people are walking by your store, and that means you're constantly exposed to potential customers. So if you teach a language that's in demand and you have a nice profile and your hourly rates are competitive, you'll inevitably start getting students who want to learn from you.

[00:02:00] The second pro or benefit or good thing about teaching on Italki is that you choose your own hourly rate. You choose how much money you make. Because unlike working for traditional language schools, you get to decide how much you make per hour or per week or per month or whatever it is. You decide that. Now, of course, you've got to price yourself according to the market, but at least you get to make the final decision on how much money you will make in compensation for your work. You know what I'm saying? Because if you're working for a school or some other company, it doesn't matter how good you are, how experienced you are, like... Or nothing else matters. They decide this is your salary and that's just what it is.

[00:02:44] But when you work for yourself as an independent teacher on Italki, you get to choose. You want to make $10, 15, $50 an hour. It's up to you, you know? Which takes me to the next pro or benefit of teaching on Italki, which is you get to set your own schedule. Now, back in 2019, I took a three-month trip to Brazil and I was able to continue making money while I was there, thanks to Italki and my own website. And since I could set my own schedule, I decided that I would work from Monday to Wednesday and I'd do whatever I wanted from Thursday to Sunday. Right? 

[00:03:20] Now, of course, this change in schedule didn't work for some of my students that I already had. But most of them understood and they adapted to my new schedule. And my priority was being able to enjoy my time in Brazil. So I was fine losing a few students temporarily because I knew it wouldn't affect my long-term goals either way. And due to that abundance of potential students I mentioned earlier, I knew that I'd continue to receive new students if I just kept getting good reviews. I'll talk more about the review system in a little bit.

[00:03:50] Now, another pro of teaching or Italki is that you don't necessarily have to have a degree or certification to teach on their platform. Now, this one is seen as a positive and a negative, depending on who you ask. Because on Italki you can be one of two kinds of teachers. The first one, a professional teacher. That's the title that they give you. And for that, you would need to have a degree or some special certification like the TEFL or TESOL, or something like that. Or you can be a community tutor, which is essentially a native speaker who's willing to help foreigners improve their skills simply by talking to them on a regular basis.

[00:04:25] Now, just in case you're wondering, they're both paid positions. And you can charge as much as you want for either position. The difference, I suppose, is just the perceived value of each position or title. Because some people insist on working with professional teachers that have been certified by an institution or other people really don't care what your credentials are. They just want you to talk to them and correct their mistakes. Now, me for example, I have zero teaching degrees or certifications, but I was still able to fill my schedule with motivated students who were eager to learn from me, and they valued the work that I did.

[00:05:00] I'm not going to lecture you at all about this point here, but the last thing I'll say is that you don't need a teaching degree to be a great teacher, but you do need to know what you're talking about. You know what I'm saying? I lost my place in my notes. Hang on. Ah, yeah. You don't need a degree to be a great teacher, but you do need to know what you're talking about. Simply being a native speaker doesn't mean you know how to teach people your language. You still need to take it upon yourself to do research, study your language, and experiment with different teaching methods until you find one that's truly effective for you. And it goes without saying that if people are paying you money for a service, then they expect you to know what you're doing, right? 

[00:05:41] So moving on to the next pro and that is you get to meet people from all over the world, bro. Apart from being able to work from anywhere in the world, you get to meet all these different people. Like, I've taught people from Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Tanzania, France, Russia, Mozambique, China, Morocco, and the list goes on and on and on. My appreciation of culture and different communication styles has grown so deeply over the last few years. Now, although challenging, it's been nothing short of a privilege to have been able to speak with people from so many different walks of life. Some of my students have ended up becoming great friends and others have gone as far as taking me out to lunch and inviting me into their homes when I visited their country. One of them even took me to the local hospital and let me use his health insurance when I got terribly sick.

[00:06:31] The entire world is learning to speak English. It's become the international language of business and travel. And by teaching English on Italki or online in general, you'll end up making connections with people from every corner of the earth. And you just never know how those connections will impact your life over time. Now, I said here "teaching English", you know, the world is learning English. But any language, whatever language you speak as your first language, you can teach it on this website. There's somebody out there that would like to learn it. You know what I'm saying?

[00:07:01] So just to recap some of the pros of teaching on Italki. Number one, there's an abundance of students. So this is a great option if you don't know anything about marketing or you don't have the time or money to invest in marketing. You just want to make your profile and have people come to you. Italki is a great option. Any website like Italki, any marketplace where the people come to you, I think that's what you need. Another benefit, you choose how much money you make. If you want to make 5, 10, 15, or $50 an hour or per class, you decide that not some other institution. You see? 

[00:07:37] Another pro, you set your own schedule. You can work 2 hours in the morning, 6 hours in the afternoon, 1 hour in the evening. You can work Monday, Thursday and Saturday. It's up to you. So you can actually do this as like, a side hustle or a second job and maintain your day job if you really want. And I just think that's really beneficial because if you work for a school, they expect you to be there every day, most likely for 4 to 8 hours. Right? So setting your own schedule and controlling your time is a huge benefit, in my opinion.

[00:08:06] Next, you don't have to have a degree or certification to teach on this platform. Now, this one, again, is a positive or a negative, depending on who you ask. But just because you have a degree doesn't mean you're a great teacher. And just because you don't have one doesn't mean you're a shitty teacher. It's really about your ability and skill individually. And I don't think that's connected to whether or not you have a certification. So, the cool thing is if you're just a naturally great teacher and you're passionate about teaching your language, you don't have to go to school and get this degree just to do that. And I think that's a huge benefit for anybody who wants to make some extra money, get some teaching experience and meet new people.

[00:08:43] Now lastly, you get to meet people from all over the world, man. And, you know, maybe you're not interested in that. Maybe you don't care. But to me, that's amazing. There's nothing cooler than making connections with people from other countries and actually making friends all over the world. That is something so priceless to me, man. I really can't even express it any better with words, but I'm sure you get the point.

[00:09:04] So now let's move on to the cons. Let's move on to the negative aspects of teaching English on this website. The first one, again, in no particular order. Number one, Italki takes 15% of your money off the top. Now, I'm not sure if this number has changed since I stopped teaching on Italki back in 2020. But when I was using the platform, Italki charged a service fee of 15%. That means for every $100 that you make, Italki takes 15 of them off the top. And when I say 'off the top', I mean first before anything else happens. So you have a stack of dollar bills, for example, there's 100 of them. They're going to take 15 off the top and then you get the rest.

[00:09:51] So the first thing that happens is they take 15%. That's what I mean. To me, that's just a ridiculously high service fee. Ridiculously high. Especially when you consider the value of exchange, right? Like, Italki has brought the student to me. But after that, you'll have almost zero support from Italki. You work with the student, you keep the student coming back to the platform, and Italki sides with the student if there should ever be a dispute between the two of you. And for that, they expect 15% of everything you earn on their platform. And that's 15% on top of the 3% you'll be giving PayPal. And that's also after 2 to 3 weeks of waiting for your money to arrive in your fucking account.

[00:10:36] Now, Italki says they do payouts every 15 days, which means, let's say for the past two weeks you've been having a lot of classes and you're getting paid for those classes, that money sits in your Italki wallet or your account, and you have to transfer that money from Italki to your bank account or to PayPal and then to your bank account. You see what I'm saying? But what they neglect to mention on the website is that it typically takes 7 to 10 business days for them to transfer your money to your PayPal account after the PayPal... Or excuse me, after the payout has been started. And after that, you need to transfer your money from your PayPal account to your bank account.

[00:11:09] Now, you do have the option to request an expedited transfer or simply deposit the money directly into your bank account. But you'd have to pay more money for that. Now, for some people, this isn't a con at all. But for me, it made much more sense to create my own platform and take complete control of my revenue, my profit, my client relationships, my marketing, and my branding. It's certainly more work, but it's also much more lucrative. But my way of teaching has evolved far beyond the limits of Italki, so I'll save that for a different episode. But just know Italki takes 15% of everything you earn on their platform. To me, that's fucking ridiculous. But you can decide whether or not that's a pro or con or neither, I guess. All right? 

[00:11:53] But let's move on to the next one, and that is Italki makes the final decision in disputes with students and they typically side with the student. So let me give you an example. Let's say you and your student agreed to meet for a class on Thursday at 7 pm. But your student doesn't show up for class on Thursday at 7 pm. What happens next? You notify Italki of the problem. You let them know how you'd like to proceed, whether or not you'd like to reschedule the class or get the payment for the class anyway. Because you were there at the agreed time and they weren't. So you still need to be paid. You let them know whatever you want to do and how you want to proceed.

[00:12:30] And then Italki reaches out to the student and they do the same thing. They ask them how they'd like to proceed. They ask for an explanation of their absence and stuff like that. And the student has three days to explain their absence and decide how they would like to proceed. Now, you have no control over the outcome of this dispute. Italki employees will arbitrarily decide on the resolution themselves. And in my experience, regardless of the situation, Italki will typically choose whichever resolution favors the student. Because at the end of the day, Italki needs students to keep using their platform. They need the students to keep coming back, right? 

[00:13:07] So in any dispute, any conflict, they're going to side with the student to make sure that they have a great experience and they come back to the platform. Hopefully, you get what I'm trying to say. But in my opinion, having a judge that's incentivized to rule in favor of one particular party is like a huge conflict of interest. It just doesn't seem right to me. Now, I understand there maybe isn't a better solution or a better way of handling problems like this. But I just think when you take your destiny into your own hands or you teach on your own platform and you manage the relationship with your, your clients, or your students, you just have more control. When you teach on Italki you don't have that control, you know? 

[00:13:51] Because in that particular situation that I mentioned, if we agree to meet for class and I show up for class and you don't, I should still be paid because that's an hour of my time that could have been given to another student or I could have kept for myself and done other things. So you had me show up at this time and dedicate an hour of my day. One out of only 24 to you and you didn't show up. I should be paid for that, you know? And when you teach on your own platform, you can receive your money upfront. And when I say 'upfront', that means it's similar to off the top. But upfront is like from the very beginning before we do anything else, you're going to pay for the class first, then we meet for class.

[00:14:31] Whereas on Italki, the student pays for the class, but Italki holds the money until the class is confirmed completed, then they transfer it to you. Right? They're the middle man, in that case. The man or the person in the middle of two parties doing a transaction. That's the middle man. And I just really dislike that structure, that way of doing things, which is why or it's one of the reasons I stopped teaching on that platform. Ok?

[00:14:55] But anyway, let's move on to the next con, which is the scheduling system has limited flexibility. And when I was using the platform Italki only allowed you to schedule classes in 30 or 60-minute blocks of time and you can only have a class at the top of the hour, like 7 pm, for example. Or in the middle of the hour, like 7:30 pm, for example. You couldn't schedule a class at 7:15 or 7:45 or 7:50 or anything like that. And you also couldn't give yourself any buffer between classes. So what I mean is like, with a website or an app like Acuity or Calendly or something like that, in the settings for those websites you can make it so that if somebody schedules a class at 7:00 pm and it's a 30-minute class, you can set the calendar in a particular way where somebody can schedule a class from 7 to 7:30, but somebody can't schedule a class from 7:30 to 8.

[00:15:50] You can put a ten-minute buffer in there, which means they could only schedule the class at 7:40, not 7:30. And that gives you time to breathe, get some water, use the restroom, get something to eat, or whatever. You just have time to like, regroup before your next class. You can't do that on Italki. It is a totally normal thing for 8 people to schedule 8 classes in a row. From 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6, 7, 8, 9 pm. And there's no break in between those classes because the scheduling system doesn't allow for that. It's just class after class after class after class. And I just really didn't like that. I didn't like that. The limited flexibility in terms of scheduling, you know? It might not be a pro or con for you, but it was for me.

[00:16:31] So the next con is that you must follow their rules and regulations on their platform. And I know this one sounds pretty obvious. I mean, it's their platform, you have to follow their rules. It's just the way it is. But one rule that I found particularly annoying is that if a teacher doesn't respond to a class request within three days, the teacher gets a mark on their record. Every time this happens, you're expected to send an email to Italki explaining why you didn't answer the request in time and how you'll make sure it won't happen again. And if you get two or three of these marks on your record, Italki will simply remove your profile from the search results on their website.

[00:17:08] So you'll be able to book classes with your previous students, but new students won't be able to find you anymore. And Italki's logic is if you're leaving students on read, let's say, if you're ignoring their requests, they're going to have a bad experience and go to another platform. And they don't want that. Right? And if you're not responding to the requests, you must not be available. So they're going to make sure you stay unavailable until you convince them otherwise. That's their logic. That's their rationale and their way of doing things. So your whole teaching business could be tanked because you neglected to respond to a message in the time that Italki deems sufficient.

[00:17:44] Now, of course, as a professional, you should be responding to all messages and requests in a timely fashion. But the idea that somebody else could literally disrupt your entire livelihood never sat right with me. I didn't like that, you know? Speaking of search results, the next con on the list is that your rank in the search results is totally beyond your control. There's nothing you can do about it. Because Italki functions and serves as a search engine really. The same way you go on Amazon and search for a product, people go on Italki and search for a teacher. Right? Now, I have no idea how their algorithm works, but the fact is that there are hundreds, if not thousands of teachers on the platform and you have no control over whether or not you show up on the first page or the ninety-ninth page.

[00:18:30] Although I completely understand that not everyone can show up on the first page, I prefer to take more control over where I show up, for who I show up, and how I'm able to present myself to them. And again, this takes a lot more work than simply creating an Italki profile, but to me, it's worth it. It's totally worth it. Ok? Which kind of brings me to the next con. On Italki your options for marketing yourself are extremely limited. There's no real way to market yourself on Italki when I really think about it. Because we just talked about the fact that you might be showing up on the last page of search results when someone is looking for a teacher. Right? And you know nobody is going to page 99. Nobody's going to page 2 most of the time when they're searching for something. Right? 

[00:19:16] So how can you attract students to your profile and convince them to give you a chance if you're showing up on page 99 of search results, right? I mean, you might be able to make a post on the Italki Community Forum. You might be able to correct people's mistakes and teach them a lesson, or simply tell them that you offer private classes there in the forum. But that's not really what the forum is for. A forum isn't a place to promote yourself, it's a place to help other people. Right? Now, obviously, if teaching online is a side hustle for you, then you might not worry as much about marketing, SEO, profit margins, and things like that.

[00:19:52] But if you're treating this like a business, then you might consider doing your own thing and learning to drive traffic to your own platform so that you're control... Excuse me, you're in control of your own destiny. You're in control of your profit. You're in control of your schedule, your branding, your marketing, all that. You're in control. I just don't like my destiny being in somebody else's hands. I don't like that idea. And I know that in many other aspects of life, my destiny is in someone else's hands. But hopefully, you get what I'm trying to say. In the context of business, working for yourself to me it's just so much better to be in complete control of the situation. You know? So...

[00:20:31] So there you go. Those are all the cons that I thought of. Let me just recap really, really quickly. Number one, Italki takes 15% of every dollar that you earn on their platform. Number two, Italki makes the final decision in disputes between you and students and they typically side with the student. Number three, the scheduling system on their website has very limited flexibility. Number four, you must follow their regulations and rules on their platform, no matter how fucking ridiculous those rules and regulations are. Number five, your search or excuse me, your rank in the search results is beyond your control. Number six, options for marketing yourself on the platform are also extremely limited.

[00:21:10] To me, all of these things were enough to convince me to go do my own thing and create my own website. Lifeinenglish.net. All right? So that's pretty much it, man. I look at teaching English on Italki like renting a very expensive room in someone else's house. Creating and operating your own website or business is like building a house from the ground up. And both options have their pros and cons. You just have to decide which one makes more sense for you. You know? So these days, I wouldn't recommend anybody teach on Italki if they're trying to teach full time and like, start a real business. I would say, do the extra work to create your own platform, your own audience, your own following, do your own marketing and call people to you that way.

[00:21:58] But, you know, different people have different preferences or personalities or time constraints, money constraints. So Italki can be a good option if you just wanna make some extra money or teach part-time, get a little bit of experience. That's cool. And I actually think you should probably start there just to see if you even like it before you invest all the time and energy to creating your own platform and website and YouTube channel and all these things. It's actually good to get the basic experience just teaching on some platform where there are already hundreds or thousands of students looking to buy what you're selling. You know? 

[00:22:30] So that's it, man. Those are the pros and cons of teaching English on Italki, or at least the ones I could think of. But if you have any experience teaching on Italki or if you've taken classes on Italki, I'd love to know about your experience. So if you're watching this on YouTube, leave your experience or your comments or thoughts in the comments section below. Or if you're just listening, you can hit me up on social media at Englishwithkaizen on pretty much all social media platforms. Or if you're a member of the community, hit me up on Discord and let me know what you think about this episode, man.

[00:23:00] But that's it for now, my friend. Hopefully, you enjoyed the episode. Those were the pros and cons of teaching English or any language on Italki. I hope you enjoyed it and got some things to think about. And if you, if you're planning to teach your language independently on Italki or your own website or whatever, and you need some advice, you'd like to learn from my experiences and things like that, don't hesitate to send me a message on one of those platforms I just mentioned, and it would be my pleasure to help you out and talk to you more about my experience. But that's it for now. That is Life in English number 134, I'm pretty sure. Yes. Number 134 in the books. I will definitely talk to you all soon. All right? Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

Writing prompts

  • Have you ever taken classes on Italki? If so, how was the experience?
  • Do you prefer private classes or group classes? Why?
  • Describe your first experience with an English teacher.
  • With online courses and technology improving every day, do you think teachers will be necessary 20 years from now? Why or why not?
Key Vocabulary & Grammar Guide
Download the VIP
Key Vocabulary Guide

Transcript

[00:00:00] What's up, everybody? You are listening to another episode of Life in English. I'm your host Tony Kaizen. And in this episode, I'm going to be talking about the pros and the cons of teaching English on Italki. Let's do it.

[00:00:18] All right. Back in 2018, I had a YouTube channel on which I taught Brazilians how to speak English. Eventually, one of my subscribers asked me if I gave private classes online, and before that moment, I had never even considered the possibility of teaching one on one classes, much less online. I mean, I just wanted to get paid to make cool YouTube videos. But after doing some research, I figured it could be a pretty good opportunity to grow as a teacher and get paid while doing it. So I signed up for Italki and started giving online classes.

[00:00:49] And after about two years on the platform, I gained the knowledge and experience that I needed to create my own language education platform and teach English in a more interesting and effective way. So in this episode, I'm going to talk about my experience teaching English on Italki and the pros and cons of working on the platform. So let's start with the pros, the positives, the good things about teaching English on Italki or any language, let's say. 

[00:01:15] Number one, and these are in no particular order, by the way. So, number one, there's an abundance of students on Italki. So Italki is a great option for teachers who don't have the time, money, or experience to market themselves online. And since Italki is essentially an online international marketplace, that means that there are people on that website every day looking to buy what you're selling. It's like opening a store inside a shopping mall. All day, everyday people are walking by your store, and that means you're constantly exposed to potential customers. So if you teach a language that's in demand and you have a nice profile and your hourly rates are competitive, you'll inevitably start getting students who want to learn from you.

[00:02:00] The second pro or benefit or good thing about teaching on Italki is that you choose your own hourly rate. You choose how much money you make. Because unlike working for traditional language schools, you get to decide how much you make per hour or per week or per month or whatever it is. You decide that. Now, of course, you've got to price yourself according to the market, but at least you get to make the final decision on how much money you will make in compensation for your work. You know what I'm saying? Because if you're working for a school or some other company, it doesn't matter how good you are, how experienced you are, like... Or nothing else matters. They decide this is your salary and that's just what it is.

[00:02:44] But when you work for yourself as an independent teacher on Italki, you get to choose. You want to make $10, 15, $50 an hour. It's up to you, you know? Which takes me to the next pro or benefit of teaching on Italki, which is you get to set your own schedule. Now, back in 2019, I took a three-month trip to Brazil and I was able to continue making money while I was there, thanks to Italki and my own website. And since I could set my own schedule, I decided that I would work from Monday to Wednesday and I'd do whatever I wanted from Thursday to Sunday. Right? 

[00:03:20] Now, of course, this change in schedule didn't work for some of my students that I already had. But most of them understood and they adapted to my new schedule. And my priority was being able to enjoy my time in Brazil. So I was fine losing a few students temporarily because I knew it wouldn't affect my long-term goals either way. And due to that abundance of potential students I mentioned earlier, I knew that I'd continue to receive new students if I just kept getting good reviews. I'll talk more about the review system in a little bit.

[00:03:50] Now, another pro of teaching or Italki is that you don't necessarily have to have a degree or certification to teach on their platform. Now, this one is seen as a positive and a negative, depending on who you ask. Because on Italki you can be one of two kinds of teachers. The first one, a professional teacher. That's the title that they give you. And for that, you would need to have a degree or some special certification like the TEFL or TESOL, or something like that. Or you can be a community tutor, which is essentially a native speaker who's willing to help foreigners improve their skills simply by talking to them on a regular basis.

[00:04:25] Now, just in case you're wondering, they're both paid positions. And you can charge as much as you want for either position. The difference, I suppose, is just the perceived value of each position or title. Because some people insist on working with professional teachers that have been certified by an institution or other people really don't care what your credentials are. They just want you to talk to them and correct their mistakes. Now, me for example, I have zero teaching degrees or certifications, but I was still able to fill my schedule with motivated students who were eager to learn from me, and they valued the work that I did.

[00:05:00] I'm not going to lecture you at all about this point here, but the last thing I'll say is that you don't need a teaching degree to be a great teacher, but you do need to know what you're talking about. You know what I'm saying? I lost my place in my notes. Hang on. Ah, yeah. You don't need a degree to be a great teacher, but you do need to know what you're talking about. Simply being a native speaker doesn't mean you know how to teach people your language. You still need to take it upon yourself to do research, study your language, and experiment with different teaching methods until you find one that's truly effective for you. And it goes without saying that if people are paying you money for a service, then they expect you to know what you're doing, right? 

[00:05:41] So moving on to the next pro and that is you get to meet people from all over the world, bro. Apart from being able to work from anywhere in the world, you get to meet all these different people. Like, I've taught people from Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Tanzania, France, Russia, Mozambique, China, Morocco, and the list goes on and on and on. My appreciation of culture and different communication styles has grown so deeply over the last few years. Now, although challenging, it's been nothing short of a privilege to have been able to speak with people from so many different walks of life. Some of my students have ended up becoming great friends and others have gone as far as taking me out to lunch and inviting me into their homes when I visited their country. One of them even took me to the local hospital and let me use his health insurance when I got terribly sick.

[00:06:31] The entire world is learning to speak English. It's become the international language of business and travel. And by teaching English on Italki or online in general, you'll end up making connections with people from every corner of the earth. And you just never know how those connections will impact your life over time. Now, I said here "teaching English", you know, the world is learning English. But any language, whatever language you speak as your first language, you can teach it on this website. There's somebody out there that would like to learn it. You know what I'm saying?

[00:07:01] So just to recap some of the pros of teaching on Italki. Number one, there's an abundance of students. So this is a great option if you don't know anything about marketing or you don't have the time or money to invest in marketing. You just want to make your profile and have people come to you. Italki is a great option. Any website like Italki, any marketplace where the people come to you, I think that's what you need. Another benefit, you choose how much money you make. If you want to make 5, 10, 15, or $50 an hour or per class, you decide that not some other institution. You see? 

[00:07:37] Another pro, you set your own schedule. You can work 2 hours in the morning, 6 hours in the afternoon, 1 hour in the evening. You can work Monday, Thursday and Saturday. It's up to you. So you can actually do this as like, a side hustle or a second job and maintain your day job if you really want. And I just think that's really beneficial because if you work for a school, they expect you to be there every day, most likely for 4 to 8 hours. Right? So setting your own schedule and controlling your time is a huge benefit, in my opinion.

[00:08:06] Next, you don't have to have a degree or certification to teach on this platform. Now, this one, again, is a positive or a negative, depending on who you ask. But just because you have a degree doesn't mean you're a great teacher. And just because you don't have one doesn't mean you're a shitty teacher. It's really about your ability and skill individually. And I don't think that's connected to whether or not you have a certification. So, the cool thing is if you're just a naturally great teacher and you're passionate about teaching your language, you don't have to go to school and get this degree just to do that. And I think that's a huge benefit for anybody who wants to make some extra money, get some teaching experience and meet new people.

[00:08:43] Now lastly, you get to meet people from all over the world, man. And, you know, maybe you're not interested in that. Maybe you don't care. But to me, that's amazing. There's nothing cooler than making connections with people from other countries and actually making friends all over the world. That is something so priceless to me, man. I really can't even express it any better with words, but I'm sure you get the point.

[00:09:04] So now let's move on to the cons. Let's move on to the negative aspects of teaching English on this website. The first one, again, in no particular order. Number one, Italki takes 15% of your money off the top. Now, I'm not sure if this number has changed since I stopped teaching on Italki back in 2020. But when I was using the platform, Italki charged a service fee of 15%. That means for every $100 that you make, Italki takes 15 of them off the top. And when I say 'off the top', I mean first before anything else happens. So you have a stack of dollar bills, for example, there's 100 of them. They're going to take 15 off the top and then you get the rest.

[00:09:51] So the first thing that happens is they take 15%. That's what I mean. To me, that's just a ridiculously high service fee. Ridiculously high. Especially when you consider the value of exchange, right? Like, Italki has brought the student to me. But after that, you'll have almost zero support from Italki. You work with the student, you keep the student coming back to the platform, and Italki sides with the student if there should ever be a dispute between the two of you. And for that, they expect 15% of everything you earn on their platform. And that's 15% on top of the 3% you'll be giving PayPal. And that's also after 2 to 3 weeks of waiting for your money to arrive in your fucking account.

[00:10:36] Now, Italki says they do payouts every 15 days, which means, let's say for the past two weeks you've been having a lot of classes and you're getting paid for those classes, that money sits in your Italki wallet or your account, and you have to transfer that money from Italki to your bank account or to PayPal and then to your bank account. You see what I'm saying? But what they neglect to mention on the website is that it typically takes 7 to 10 business days for them to transfer your money to your PayPal account after the PayPal... Or excuse me, after the payout has been started. And after that, you need to transfer your money from your PayPal account to your bank account.

[00:11:09] Now, you do have the option to request an expedited transfer or simply deposit the money directly into your bank account. But you'd have to pay more money for that. Now, for some people, this isn't a con at all. But for me, it made much more sense to create my own platform and take complete control of my revenue, my profit, my client relationships, my marketing, and my branding. It's certainly more work, but it's also much more lucrative. But my way of teaching has evolved far beyond the limits of Italki, so I'll save that for a different episode. But just know Italki takes 15% of everything you earn on their platform. To me, that's fucking ridiculous. But you can decide whether or not that's a pro or con or neither, I guess. All right? 

[00:11:53] But let's move on to the next one, and that is Italki makes the final decision in disputes with students and they typically side with the student. So let me give you an example. Let's say you and your student agreed to meet for a class on Thursday at 7 pm. But your student doesn't show up for class on Thursday at 7 pm. What happens next? You notify Italki of the problem. You let them know how you'd like to proceed, whether or not you'd like to reschedule the class or get the payment for the class anyway. Because you were there at the agreed time and they weren't. So you still need to be paid. You let them know whatever you want to do and how you want to proceed.

[00:12:30] And then Italki reaches out to the student and they do the same thing. They ask them how they'd like to proceed. They ask for an explanation of their absence and stuff like that. And the student has three days to explain their absence and decide how they would like to proceed. Now, you have no control over the outcome of this dispute. Italki employees will arbitrarily decide on the resolution themselves. And in my experience, regardless of the situation, Italki will typically choose whichever resolution favors the student. Because at the end of the day, Italki needs students to keep using their platform. They need the students to keep coming back, right? 

[00:13:07] So in any dispute, any conflict, they're going to side with the student to make sure that they have a great experience and they come back to the platform. Hopefully, you get what I'm trying to say. But in my opinion, having a judge that's incentivized to rule in favor of one particular party is like a huge conflict of interest. It just doesn't seem right to me. Now, I understand there maybe isn't a better solution or a better way of handling problems like this. But I just think when you take your destiny into your own hands or you teach on your own platform and you manage the relationship with your, your clients, or your students, you just have more control. When you teach on Italki you don't have that control, you know? 

[00:13:51] Because in that particular situation that I mentioned, if we agree to meet for class and I show up for class and you don't, I should still be paid because that's an hour of my time that could have been given to another student or I could have kept for myself and done other things. So you had me show up at this time and dedicate an hour of my day. One out of only 24 to you and you didn't show up. I should be paid for that, you know? And when you teach on your own platform, you can receive your money upfront. And when I say 'upfront', that means it's similar to off the top. But upfront is like from the very beginning before we do anything else, you're going to pay for the class first, then we meet for class.

[00:14:31] Whereas on Italki, the student pays for the class, but Italki holds the money until the class is confirmed completed, then they transfer it to you. Right? They're the middle man, in that case. The man or the person in the middle of two parties doing a transaction. That's the middle man. And I just really dislike that structure, that way of doing things, which is why or it's one of the reasons I stopped teaching on that platform. Ok?

[00:14:55] But anyway, let's move on to the next con, which is the scheduling system has limited flexibility. And when I was using the platform Italki only allowed you to schedule classes in 30 or 60-minute blocks of time and you can only have a class at the top of the hour, like 7 pm, for example. Or in the middle of the hour, like 7:30 pm, for example. You couldn't schedule a class at 7:15 or 7:45 or 7:50 or anything like that. And you also couldn't give yourself any buffer between classes. So what I mean is like, with a website or an app like Acuity or Calendly or something like that, in the settings for those websites you can make it so that if somebody schedules a class at 7:00 pm and it's a 30-minute class, you can set the calendar in a particular way where somebody can schedule a class from 7 to 7:30, but somebody can't schedule a class from 7:30 to 8.

[00:15:50] You can put a ten-minute buffer in there, which means they could only schedule the class at 7:40, not 7:30. And that gives you time to breathe, get some water, use the restroom, get something to eat, or whatever. You just have time to like, regroup before your next class. You can't do that on Italki. It is a totally normal thing for 8 people to schedule 8 classes in a row. From 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 to 5 to 6, 7, 8, 9 pm. And there's no break in between those classes because the scheduling system doesn't allow for that. It's just class after class after class after class. And I just really didn't like that. I didn't like that. The limited flexibility in terms of scheduling, you know? It might not be a pro or con for you, but it was for me.

[00:16:31] So the next con is that you must follow their rules and regulations on their platform. And I know this one sounds pretty obvious. I mean, it's their platform, you have to follow their rules. It's just the way it is. But one rule that I found particularly annoying is that if a teacher doesn't respond to a class request within three days, the teacher gets a mark on their record. Every time this happens, you're expected to send an email to Italki explaining why you didn't answer the request in time and how you'll make sure it won't happen again. And if you get two or three of these marks on your record, Italki will simply remove your profile from the search results on their website.

[00:17:08] So you'll be able to book classes with your previous students, but new students won't be able to find you anymore. And Italki's logic is if you're leaving students on read, let's say, if you're ignoring their requests, they're going to have a bad experience and go to another platform. And they don't want that. Right? And if you're not responding to the requests, you must not be available. So they're going to make sure you stay unavailable until you convince them otherwise. That's their logic. That's their rationale and their way of doing things. So your whole teaching business could be tanked because you neglected to respond to a message in the time that Italki deems sufficient.

[00:17:44] Now, of course, as a professional, you should be responding to all messages and requests in a timely fashion. But the idea that somebody else could literally disrupt your entire livelihood never sat right with me. I didn't like that, you know? Speaking of search results, the next con on the list is that your rank in the search results is totally beyond your control. There's nothing you can do about it. Because Italki functions and serves as a search engine really. The same way you go on Amazon and search for a product, people go on Italki and search for a teacher. Right? Now, I have no idea how their algorithm works, but the fact is that there are hundreds, if not thousands of teachers on the platform and you have no control over whether or not you show up on the first page or the ninety-ninth page.

[00:18:30] Although I completely understand that not everyone can show up on the first page, I prefer to take more control over where I show up, for who I show up, and how I'm able to present myself to them. And again, this takes a lot more work than simply creating an Italki profile, but to me, it's worth it. It's totally worth it. Ok? Which kind of brings me to the next con. On Italki your options for marketing yourself are extremely limited. There's no real way to market yourself on Italki when I really think about it. Because we just talked about the fact that you might be showing up on the last page of search results when someone is looking for a teacher. Right? And you know nobody is going to page 99. Nobody's going to page 2 most of the time when they're searching for something. Right? 

[00:19:16] So how can you attract students to your profile and convince them to give you a chance if you're showing up on page 99 of search results, right? I mean, you might be able to make a post on the Italki Community Forum. You might be able to correct people's mistakes and teach them a lesson, or simply tell them that you offer private classes there in the forum. But that's not really what the forum is for. A forum isn't a place to promote yourself, it's a place to help other people. Right? Now, obviously, if teaching online is a side hustle for you, then you might not worry as much about marketing, SEO, profit margins, and things like that.

[00:19:52] But if you're treating this like a business, then you might consider doing your own thing and learning to drive traffic to your own platform so that you're control... Excuse me, you're in control of your own destiny. You're in control of your profit. You're in control of your schedule, your branding, your marketing, all that. You're in control. I just don't like my destiny being in somebody else's hands. I don't like that idea. And I know that in many other aspects of life, my destiny is in someone else's hands. But hopefully, you get what I'm trying to say. In the context of business, working for yourself to me it's just so much better to be in complete control of the situation. You know? So...

[00:20:31] So there you go. Those are all the cons that I thought of. Let me just recap really, really quickly. Number one, Italki takes 15% of every dollar that you earn on their platform. Number two, Italki makes the final decision in disputes between you and students and they typically side with the student. Number three, the scheduling system on their website has very limited flexibility. Number four, you must follow their regulations and rules on their platform, no matter how fucking ridiculous those rules and regulations are. Number five, your search or excuse me, your rank in the search results is beyond your control. Number six, options for marketing yourself on the platform are also extremely limited.

[00:21:10] To me, all of these things were enough to convince me to go do my own thing and create my own website. Lifeinenglish.net. All right? So that's pretty much it, man. I look at teaching English on Italki like renting a very expensive room in someone else's house. Creating and operating your own website or business is like building a house from the ground up. And both options have their pros and cons. You just have to decide which one makes more sense for you. You know? So these days, I wouldn't recommend anybody teach on Italki if they're trying to teach full time and like, start a real business. I would say, do the extra work to create your own platform, your own audience, your own following, do your own marketing and call people to you that way.

[00:21:58] But, you know, different people have different preferences or personalities or time constraints, money constraints. So Italki can be a good option if you just wanna make some extra money or teach part-time, get a little bit of experience. That's cool. And I actually think you should probably start there just to see if you even like it before you invest all the time and energy to creating your own platform and website and YouTube channel and all these things. It's actually good to get the basic experience just teaching on some platform where there are already hundreds or thousands of students looking to buy what you're selling. You know? 

[00:22:30] So that's it, man. Those are the pros and cons of teaching English on Italki, or at least the ones I could think of. But if you have any experience teaching on Italki or if you've taken classes on Italki, I'd love to know about your experience. So if you're watching this on YouTube, leave your experience or your comments or thoughts in the comments section below. Or if you're just listening, you can hit me up on social media at Englishwithkaizen on pretty much all social media platforms. Or if you're a member of the community, hit me up on Discord and let me know what you think about this episode, man.

[00:23:00] But that's it for now, my friend. Hopefully, you enjoyed the episode. Those were the pros and cons of teaching English or any language on Italki. I hope you enjoyed it and got some things to think about. And if you, if you're planning to teach your language independently on Italki or your own website or whatever, and you need some advice, you'd like to learn from my experiences and things like that, don't hesitate to send me a message on one of those platforms I just mentioned, and it would be my pleasure to help you out and talk to you more about my experience. But that's it for now. That is Life in English number 134, I'm pretty sure. Yes. Number 134 in the books. I will definitely talk to you all soon. All right? Peace!

[END OF EPISODE]

Scroll to top