When still at the university, I studied Russian, got quite good at it and even spent a semester as an exchange student in Russia. During the last few years I have not used the Russian language very actively but have tried to maintain my skills by reading Russian newspapers, short stories from Russian writers and having the odd discussion in Russian with Russian friends and colleagues.
Such infrequent and unsystematic usage is hardly enough to maintain my skills at their previous level, not to mention improving them. Since I like languages and had thought about learning a new one, I instead decided to brush up my Russian. I signed up to iTalki, actually a few years ago, but was not active there until now, where hobbyists and professional teachers offer help in studying and learning different languages.
I have now taken two lections with a teacher in Russian. During the first test lesson we disced my current skills, difficulties with the Russian language and my learning goals. During the second lesson I gave a short introduction of myself and my work, we reviewed the main differences between the use cases of the imperfective and perfective verb aspects and discussed about the city of Minsk. In the coming lessons we will still keep our focus on the verb aspects, a speciality of Russian language, and I will compose short texts on topics that interest me in order to improve my vocabulary.
I would recommend iTalki at least to anyone already knowing a language to some extent and wanting to either refresh the already learnt, learn more in a structured way or just wanting to have casual conversations in a foreign language. I don’t know how well iTalki is suited for studying a language from the beginning, but I don’t see any obvious obstacles or limitations: communication per Skype allows face to face discussions and oral practice, while texts can be produced and sent also electronically. Maybe I’ll give some new language a try in the future, after I’m up and running again with my Russian.