How Does italki Work? – Business Model & Key Features


In our modern world, the ability to speak foreign languages has become the main asset for any individual. It not only opens the door to different cultures and international diversity but also makes the person a global citizen. When Kevin Chen went to Shanghai to learn Mandarin Chinese, he had the vision to make language learning a social experience. Hence, italki was founded in 2007. italki, an online language learning platform has been premier in the space of online language learning. It aims to connect learners and teachers via chat so that students can get 1-on-1 tutoring, while teachers can earn money as freelancers. In this blog, we have covered insights on the timeline of italki, its business and revenue model along with its key features.

Timeline of italki

timeline of italki

As mentioned above, italki was founded in 2007. In 2008, it began as a marketplace. However, the idea was met with skepticism. The concept proved to be ideal, as, in 2012, italki expanded through angel financing. In 2016, italki rebranded and relaunched its app and site. Moreover, with continued growth, italki completed its first acquisition and acquired a Spain-based company, Lingbe.

italki’s Offering – Adaptive learning to Meet User Needs

The popularity of italki is primarily due to its offering that can be roughly divided into three primary sections:

  • Free informal tutoring- This means that teachers are not required to prepare for formal tutoring sessions. They are native-speaking community tutors.
  • One-to-one paid professional learning- You will be able to develop your vocabulary and prepare yourself for job interviews with tutors who have industry experience.
  • Social learning- You will be able to enhance your fluency and speak confidently about the topics that you are learning via conversation.

Apart from that, italki also has professional teachers and community tutors. Let’s understand the difference between them.

Professional TeachersCommunity Tutors
Certified professionals that are experts in teaching languages.Are native or advanced speakers.
Are perfect for advanced topics and test preparation.They are helpful for informal practice and conversation exchange.

Note: Professional teachers will have to provide evidence of a corresponding academic career to italki. In addition, community tutors and professional teachers can decide the schedule, lesson pricing, learning methodology, and more.

Business Model of Online Tutoring Platform italki

Italki is known for the vast languages it offers, for imparting learning experiences to students, and for rewarding subject-matter experts for their services on the platform. Hence, it acts as a facilitator that allows searching a massive database of teachers and practice partners in numerous languages like English, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and more.

Although the platform is free, it can clearly be described as multi-sided. This means that once a user is registered, two roles can be taken over: the role of a learner, and the role of a tutor. Each of which will even be assigned separate profiles. Once learners are clear about what they are looking for in a class, they can begin to look for the right teacher themselves.

With teachers, you get to see their qualifications, read reviews from other students, and then make a choice. After an italki teacher has been chosen, you as a learner can book a trial lesson. Additionally, you can look at the teacher’s calendar and select a time (or times) you want to take a lesson.

Then a booking request is submitted and the teacher has a time limit to approve or deny the request. If approved, then as per schedule, you can connect with the tutor via video chat. Credits are then taken out from your wallet on italki and are held in the form of escrow until a lesson is completed. If there is a missed lesson or dispute, then the credits are released back to the learner.

The 3 Steps – How italki Works?

  • Choose your italki teacher
  • Book your trial lesson
  • Connect with your tutor via video chat

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How Does italki Earn Money?

italki’s main source of revenue is the commission it charges on the earnings of the tutor. While creating a profile, applying to become a teacher, setting calendar availability, and courses are completely free. But when a lesson or a package is completed, italki charges a 15% commission fee based on the listed lesson price by the teacher. Here it is important to note that italki:

  • Does not take a commission fee for trial lessons
  • Does not charge any commission or fee for withdrawing italki credits (except express withdrawal).
  • The commission figure is rounded up

How Much Do Lessons on italki Cost?

Italki helps individuals learn foreign languages and intends to become a leading platform for online acquisition by using Web 2.0 concepts to provide users with a complete language learning tool. As mentioned above, on italki, teachers set their prices, but lessons usually cost between $10 and $30 per hour. Depending on the teacher and the expertise, a lesson can also cost as much as $80.

What Makes italki a Popular Online Language Learning Platform?

italki is not only a great place to take language lessons but also eases you into the process by encouraging conversations with native and fluent speakers. Mentioned below are the classic features offered by this online tutoring platform italki.

Usability And Accessibility

The platform is simple to use, as there are step-by-step instructions. Furthermore, the platform provides easy access to users as they can take lessons at any time from anywhere. The platform also supports screen sharing which lets you share your screen with the teacher. It works on a mobile app, Chrome, and Firefox browsers and you can also share files and documents. Italki also tracks all system records in the event of any dispute so that problems can be easily resolved.

Finding a Language Tutor

A few online language learning platforms have out-of-date search features that can make it hard for learners to find a good tutor. But italki incorporates easy search and filter options so that tutors that best suit your requirements can be found. The tutors can be filtered by:

  • The place they belong
  • Languages they speak
  • Price of their lesson
  • Their availability
  • Categories such as (kids, test prep, business, and so on)
  • Native speaker or not
  • Professional teacher vs community teacher


The quality of tutors can vary on the platform. So it is vital to go through reviews from past students. This can broaden your perspective about the teaching style of a tutor, how they interact during classes, and even check if there are no network lags.

Community Focus

italki is a great online tutoring and community platform. It offers:

  • Forum– As a learner, you can join a discussion on a chosen topic.
  • Language Partner– It encourages users to interact with people who are learning the same language and to learn together.
  • Questions and Answers– You can ask questions and contribute by answering other people’s questions.
  • Notebook– You can write in the target language for practice. If a native speaker sees it, then they can correct it and can also help others practice in their native language.

Help and Support

The platform offers an impeccable help and support system where you can submit support ticket requests or find chatbot support on the website. The website also has a broad online knowledge base with helpful articles and FAQs.

Moreover, there is a ‘Connections Problems’ link that can be used if you are experiencing a connection problem with italki classroom. Also, before a lesson, the teacher will send you a reminder email. Hence, italki customer complaints are promptly dealt with.

Launching an Online Language Learning Platform like italki

italki is a great online language learning platform where students can learn via skillfully tailored lessons. So if you are an entrepreneur who is looking to make an online language learning platform like italki, this is the right time. Yo!Coach, our in-house product is built specifically to meet the needs of an online language learning business.

Integrated with an array of exemplary features, Yo!Coach helps entrepreneurs to launch their language learning business with ease. It is a versatile software where tutors or teachers can register to deliver one-to-one or group online sessions to learners. The main advantages of this platform are:

  • 1 year of free technical support
  • Multiple support channels
  • Completely customizable
  • Free installation
  • Fully responsive

Want to Know More About Yo!Coach?


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once quoted “Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.” Regardless of where you live, and which language you would like to learn, taking language learning classes on a platform like italki will be extremely beneficial. So if you are an entrepreneur who is looking to build a language learning platform like italki, contact us now.

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