I want to learn French but I'm finding it difficult to begin the process. Are teachers comfortable teaching someone who begins with such little understanding of the language?
I've tried doing Skype conversations with French citizens looking to learn English but I'm not sure either of us learned anything as neither of us have enough of the other's language to communicate complex ideas to the other one. So our progress is stunted and very slow at best.
For those who have learned to be conversational in their target language: How did you do it?
Is starting with a native tutor on iTalki a good approach to begin learning?
I've had lessons in languages in which I was a complete beginner on italki. If you find a teacher with a sound theoretical and pedagogical approach that matches your expectations of the learning process, yes it is a good idea. I've had good experiences learning Turkish and Russian with the help of professional lessons, though of course, you have to do a good amount of work alone to really benefit from a teacher's guidance. In some cases, I didn't have such a good experience either because I didn't like the teacher's demeanor or didn't think the teaching approach was effective or suitable for my linguistic background.
I advise you to find a professional teacher for initial lessons and to pay attention to how they describe their courses. There are some great community tutors, but I don't think it's the best choice for someone beginning to learn a language, who likes structure, or who isn't comfortable with a lot of uncertainty in the target language.
It is how I am currently learning Russian. I had little to no prior knowledge before, but I found a teacher, who is a native Russian, that has a B2 level of English, which is more than sufficient to explain complex grammar. My biggest trick is to always have a positive attitude. No matter how difficult it gets always stay positive because it will make it easier to learn and you will not get down on yourself.
It will of course depend on the teacher or tutor that you find, but I am having great success starting from basically scratch. I found a community tutor that speaks both my target language(French) and my native language (English). I started with a trial lesson to see how it would go. I couldn't be happier. To make things even better he is in the same time zone as me.
I also have a language exchange partner, but I treat that relationship more as practice than learning. I wouldn't want to put pressure on my partner to actually teach me formally, even though she is fantastically patient with me and does end up teaching me a lot.
Definitely give it a go. You can try a few teachers and/or tutors until you find one that fits your learning style and you are comfortable with. Feel free to send me a message if you want the name of my tutor, I would be happy to recommend him.