italki is the language learning 2.0

Web 2.0 | 2008/05/07 20:10 | Web 2.0 Asia
Shanghai-based italki is "applying Web 2.0 concepts, such as social networking, user-generated content, and crowdsourcing, to language learning." Founded by American and Chinese entrepreneurs, italki has 210,000+ users from 100+ countries speaking 90+ languages. They have recently launched a new version, where users can "now collaborate on creating free language learning textbooks", according to Kevin Chen of italki.

On italki, speakers of different languages can exchange questions/answers regarding the languages they are learning. For example, as shown on the screenshot below, those who are learning Korean language can post questions, for which Korean speakers (like myself) might provide some help.

사용자 삽입 이미지

Or, one can also find a "language partner" for peer study. Naturally, I searched for the 18-25 year old females - go ahead and sue me :) By the way, the search still gave me some 17 year olds - a small glitch, perhaps? (Just hope there isn't such thing as "underage peer language learning").

사용자 삽입 이미지

Users can do more, such as posting language-learning resources and files, and forming study groups. The site is cleanly designed and very web 2.0-ish (with the Truebuchet font and all). The fact that they already have user base in the order of couple hundred thousands is also a plus, I guess.

I don't know if italki has indeed finally brought the concept of "education 2.0" into existence, but it's true that many people (including an avid reader of this blog who now became a friend of mine) firmly believe that education and web 2.0 are natural fit and the so-called "education 2.0" is very, very promising.

My thought is that, perhaps the true Litmus test for italki will be to see if italki can replace, or at least provide a more efficient way to learn foreign language than the existing language-learning methods.
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