iTalki has been great so far. It has replaced my usual craving to clubhop to various Toastmasters clubs. Both iTalki and Toastmasters have things in common--they both relate to communications, learning, and meeting people. The main difference is iTalki is an online thing and Toastmasters is an offline activity and I stay home and need not spend money with iTalki unlike Toastmasters. I have done much clubhopping already in Toastmasters so the gains are not as much as my earlier days with the club. Whereas in iTalki, the benefits I get if converted monetarily, meaning if I decide to obtain such skills via other means like staying a year in Beijing or Shanghai, should cost me several hundred thousand pesos.
For those who are learning Mandarin. Here are some tips. Open two windows for Google Translate--one for English to Chinese translations and the other for Chinese to English ones. Open your iTalki profile page on a third window to initiate communications, and open up PowerWord 2006 and Notepad to capture text from the iTalki chat client. Two weaknesses of the iTalki chat client is that cut and paste can only be done wholesale and the mouseover function of PowerWord 2006 does not work with it.
In my few weeks here, I have become a sought after language partner since I speak and write English very well and my Mandarin Chinese is fast getting better. Mainlanders learning English are more comfortable with someone who can speak their language as well. I have had several sessions that go three hours or more and I already feel the significant improvement in my Mandarin skills in speaking, reading and writing.