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How to afford professional teachers when you're on a budget

How to afford professional teachers when you're on a budget

This is the fourth article about having German or other language lessons with italki teachers and tutors and making the most out of it.

If you have never heard about italki, please read this article first and if you don’t have an italki account yet, sign up with this link and receive USD 10 in italki credits for your future language lessons.

The series of articles about how to use italki efficiently consists of these articles (the articles 5+6 will be published soon):

  1. Improve your German on italki
  2. How to work efficiently with a community tutor
  3. Working with multiple teachers
  4. How to afford professional teachers when you’re on a budget
  5. Advantages and disadvantages of structured lessons
  6. Speaking practice – Avoid these pitfalls

Professional teachers on italki need to charge at least USD 10 per lesson. It doesn’t matter how long the lesson is, italki doesn’t allow a lower price. However, many professional teachers have much higher rates, especially German teachers. Most of them are worth their money but how can you handle this when you’re on a budget because you’re still a student or you live in country where the average income level is simply much lower than in Germany?

In this article, I’ll give you three tips to afford professional teachers even when you’re on a budget.

Look for new Teachers

The italki algorhythm makes sure that new teachers get special exposure during the first two weeks after their registration, so italki will automatically suggest some of them to you. Many of them will start with prices below USD 20 for a 60-minute lesson. New italki teachers are not necessarily inexperienced. They may have worked offline or on other platforms.

So choosing a new teacher (perhaps even as their first student) can be a great way to have effective and interesting professional lessons even if you’re on a budget. However, there’s one thing you should keep in mind: Once a new professional teacher with low rates has received his first positive reviews and knows that he can count on a steady influx of new students, he will raise his prices. Italki even sends emails to teachers to encourage them to charge more.

Some teachers only raise their rates for new students but that’s not always the case, so be prepared that you might only be able to have lessons with the same teacher for a couple of months and then you’ll have to look for another new teacher.

Have lessons with a friend

Do you have a friend who’d also like to learn German? What about taking lessons together? Some teachers offer mini group classes which are usually comparably cheaper than 1:1 lessons. However, you can also ask a teacher if it’s okay to attend the class together with a friend (or with your partner).

However, there are some things you need to keep in mind:

1. One person needs to book the lessons and pay for them. So make sure that your friend is a reliable person.

2. Don’t choose the italki classroom as your means of communication unless your friend and you are sitting in front the same computer. If you would like to use Zoom (which works best for groups, in my opinion), ask the teacher if he has a paid version. If he doesn’t, the call will end after 40 minutes. You can re-enter the meeting room, though.

3. Clarify beforehand with your friend what to do when one of you can’t attend the lesson: Continue normally or ask the teacher to do review tasks?

Become a community tutor

This is a great solution for people who have little money but enough time to “exchange” 2-3 hours of lessons as a tutor for 1 hour as a student with a professional teacher. You may even have some students who speak your target language natively. If this is the case, pay attention to their mistakes as it will tell you a lot about how their native language works. For example, German native speakers often say “I live in Berlin since two years” which is a direct translation of “Ich lebe seit zwei Jahren in Berlin.”

There’s just one throwback when it comes to working as a community tutor: italki sometimes doesn’t accept new teachers. That’s mostly the case with “big” languages like English, Spanish, Arabic or Chinese.  If you’re a native Estonian speaker, you won’t have that problem.

Conclusion

As you could see, there are possibilities to have lessons with a professional teacher even if you’re on a budget. Depending on your learning style, it might make more sense to have one lesson every fortnight with a good professional teacher than two cheap lessons a week with a community tutor. Find out what works best for you.

If you don’t have an italki account yet, use this link to sign up and receive USD 10 in italki credits. 

Happy language learning!

Daniela is a native German speaker who has taught the language online since 2012. She speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and some Hungarian. Currently, she's residing in Peru but maintains a traveling lifestyle as a digital nomad. In March 2020, she published her first book "Deutsch online unterrichten" for aspiring online German teachers and is now concentrating on writing fiction for German learners while pursuing some other small projects.

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