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I have been a long time user of Italki and only recently made an account. For the first 3 or 4 days it was all fine. But then the messages asking if they could have my number for Whatsapp happened.

I wrote on my profile that I don't give out my number and as I'm not comfortable having conversations with strangers have also written that I do not do speaking practice. 

So why then, am I still getting people asking me to speak with them or if I use certain apps when it's all clearly stated in my profile? It's so frustrating because there is literally no other way to make these people understand than to respond sharply.

A note to all the people who are thinking about messaging people for help: Why are you messaging people with requests before reading their profiles? And if you are reading their profiles and messaging anyway, what makes you think you'll be the exception to any rules they may have? 

I don't want to turn off my discoverability, I like to help. I just wish people would stop asking me for speaking practice. I'm not a paid teacher, nor am I a tutor. I am allowed to have my own boundaries for my own safety.

Apr 23, 2018 1:47 PM
Comments · 24

I think that most people think that people who are willing to help and who have themselves listed on the language partner part of the site are also willing to speak with people.  Because, let's be honest, most people who want to practice a language want to focus on conversation - it's the hardest skill to practice by yourself.  I would suggest that you remove yourself from the language partner listings, as another poster suggested.  Then you will receive a much smaller volume of messages.  If you want to help, you can help by answering questions or correcting notebooks. 

Yes, people should read, but they don't.  I write a lot for the online world and we're constantly having to tweak things because people just don't take the time to read.  It's frustrating.   And, yes, I agree that you should be able to participate in the way you feel most comfortable, but if the messages bother you that much you can chose to ignore them and not reply, reply to them (which is time consuming and annoying), or remove yourself from the language partner list. 

I think it's great that you want to help, but most language learners are probably on this site to practice conversation and they are not expecting to encounter someone who isn't willing to converse.  

April 23, 2018


Yeah, the sad truth is that most people don’t read the profiles. Especially before sending a simple “hi” message. Remove your self from the language exchange list and rather offer your help directly to some learners who seem interesting to you.


The  monthly (!) minimum wage in Venezuela is around 6$. How is someone with such an income supposed to pay for a teacher or tutor here? Lawyers can of course make more. But even with their monthly income of 15 to 20$, they won’t be able to book classes I’m afraid. Not everyone lives in your convenient bubble. 

April 24, 2018
I think you should not be angry with the Italka participants.
New participants on Italki always overwhelmed with an abundance of proposals (from teachers, from other participants, etc.).
And given that there is a certain shortage of participants from Britain (who presumably have "the best and most prestigious version of English..." :) ), there will be a lot of proposals asking for communication.
Well, looking into your profile, the participant will first see the phrase: "I can help you with (most) English questions. Even if I don't know the answer I will do my best to help you find one". He will interpret this phrase as convenient for him, and he may not notice or forget the rest of the details ... :(
Over time, everything will pass: and you will get used to and those who want to impose their communication will be less.
Don't worry, be happy! :)
April 23, 2018

Part 2

All of the sudden out of the blue, this middle-of-the night Skype call woke me up at 1:37am. I immediately declined the call and blocked the caller. It was the same Middle Eastern woman I had offered to help earlier. She had sent me an iTalki message 5 minutes earlier with a “Morning” message. I blocked all further messages from her. This person had apparently never heard of timezones or common courtesy. 

Never offer to give away your time for free,  except when it’s with a real or registered charity and it’s something you want. I now tell people here looking for free language chat in English to hire a community tutor or professional teacher. That’s what they’re here for. If they can’t afford it, it’s not my problem. I have said in the past if the person can afford a computer and internet connection, he or she can afford at least a commuity tutor, whose rates are usually pretty fair.  I usually get hit with being told how cheap internet connections are in other countries or that people used shared computers. Okay, fine. The board members financial problems are not my problem. When you give away your time for free, you cheapen its value and people invariably abuse it. Guaranteed. 

The unsolicited 1:37am call was completely unacceptable and something no community tutor or professional teacher here would put up with. Most have a minimal 48 hour scheduling policy and 24 hour cancellation policy. What I had to endure was outrageous behavior only because I had offered free services. Don’t do it. And I’ll never do it again. When people ask for English chat, I usually ask what they are offering in exchange, and  I usually get no answer. To be sure, no good deed goes unpunished. I just tell them to look elsewhere. Not interested. I don’t give away my time for free  

April 23, 2018
It's annoying. But must've taken a lot longer to write this post than to ignore the message (and only the latter actually does anything about the problem).
April 24, 2018
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Language Skills
English, Korean
Learning Language