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The new category "Language Hacking" What do you think about it?
Sep 1, 2016 6:03 PM
Comments · 34

I don't like what Benny preaches. "Speaking from day 1" is probably the most irresponsible piece of advice I've ever heard, I believe that one of his paid courses is called that, maybe he should rename it to "Get frustrated from day 1" that would be more accurate.

It seems that caterring to the desires of naive people is the easiest way to place yourself as a "guru". Anybody with just a bit of experience learning languages knows that the process from total beginner to fluency takes MUCH longer than 3 months.

I don't understand why italki would want to ride on the back of Benny's success, or the success of anybody really, italki should be neutral. There are as many different teaching methods as there are teachers. By advertising Benny's method, it's implied that italki believe Benny's method to be the most appropriate at teaching languages.

September 1, 2016

"Mission 1 - say your name, where you’re from, where you live, why you’re learning X."

And here I was, thinking my first notebook entry in my target language should be a 5,000-word essay on quantum physics. Thanks for the awesome "language hack", Benny Lewis!
September 1, 2016

It depends. Language hackers like Olle Linge from provide lots of innovative tips on streamlining your study. Language hackers like Benny Lewis, ie. the look-at-me hucksters who claim to have discovered "the secret" to language learning, mix obvious advice (eg. learn vocab in context) and downright irresponsible nonsense (eg. Throw out your dictionary!) into a paid course.

I tend to associate the term with the latter, unfortunately.

I think I'm going to collect all my italki posts and make them into a paid course called "Fluent In 3 Minutes". I'll make millions!

September 1, 2016


You are absolutely right. Well, since I don't belong to the target group, I am not going to buy the book anyway. Indeed he is a kind of motivational speaker. Not my cup of tea at all.


I have to say I am quite disappointed by italki. I didn't like the switch to the new design, because many good fuctionalities disappeared, but the italki team always said: "Wait, we have many great new features coming up!" And then this?I agree with you. There are many ways to learn languages and it doesn't feel right, that italki favours only one of them.

September 1, 2016

Your ideas are very good, and would be so easy to implement, if italki really cared about its "community". But it seems to me the big problem with italki is that it's not that upfront about what it truly is.

In this very thread (and many others) I've seen people refer to italki as a "language exchange site". Really?! How is that profitable for italki? I think the italki management considers this site mainly a language teaching marketplace, which is how they make their money. I've often wondered why italki doesn't seem to care about our feedback about the new site design, etc. and I think I've figured it out...

It's because to them we're freeloaders!!

The forums and language exchange part are meant to be unprofitable "extra features" to supplement the teacher-student business. But instead italki has evolved from a supermarket to a society, and the management is annoyed that so much of their resources are devoted to maintaining a community of non-paying users. So they're not going to bother implementing basic housekeeping upgrades like the kinds you mentioned, instead they're going to go for get-rich-quick schemes like partnering with Benny the language hack.

September 2, 2016
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Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), French, German
Learning Language
Chinese (Mandarin)