italki, Preply, and Verbling are three online platforms with the common goal of matching teachers to students who are looking to learn a new language. All three resources allow you to book classes directly with a teacher for a wide range of languages.
While italki, Preply and Verbling work very similarly, and offer virtually the same opportunities to students, they do have some very minor differences worth pointing out:
- italki has a wider range of teachers, which allows you to be pickier with your selection requirements. It’s usually cheaper than Preply and Verbling and offers a lot more extra features, like notebooks and language exchange, which can help you get more out of your language learning experience.
- Preply has lots of other subjects besides languages, but lesson packages can only be used with one teacher.
- Verbling lets you pay for one class at a time, which makes purchasing lessons more convenient than both italki and Preply.
All three platforms offer flexibility, allowing you to book classes to a schedule that suits you.
Italki is my favorite of the three because it offers the best value for money, has the biggest range of teachers to choose from, and great free features.
Preply does a few things that rub me the wrong way with regard to their trial lessons and the fact that packages aren’t transferable between teachers is a problem.
Verbling is a solid option despite being a little more expensive and having fewer teachers to choose from.
All three platforms exist to make it easier to find a tutor. But, they aren’t language courses in the traditional sense, so they are better used as a complementary resource to a structured course. You can check out the best courses available based on your language learning preferences from the table below.
The main advantages of each platform:
- You get to choose from a huge number of tutors, which means you can be pickier with your selections. You’ll be able to make choices based on fees per hour, location, native language, and other factors.
- Has tutors for rarer languages that neither Preply or Verbing offer.
- You can get your writing corrected for free in their notebooks section, find a free language exchange partner, ask questions in their discussion section, among other free learning tools.
- Italki doesn’t take a commission on teacher’s trial classes.
- Lots of tutors available, including topics that aren’t related to language learning.
- Many tutors charge fairly inexpensive rates.
- You don’t need to put down money for a lesson package or buy credits in advance. You can pay per lesson, one at a time, using whichever payment method is most convenient (even Bitcoin).
- Teachers must prove they have a fast internet connection before being accepted to the platform.
- Free trial lesson (also a negative)
The main disadvantages of each platform:
- You can’t pay for one class at a time. Instead, you have to load money onto your account, which shows up as “credits”, with an equal credit-to-dollar rate.
- If you leave credits in your account for 12 months without logging in, you’ll lose those credits.
- They charge a processing fee when purchasing credits.
- You have to purchase a package of hours for one teacher, which takes away a lot of flexibility.
- Teachers don’t receive payment for trial lessons even though students pay and they’re a full hour long. This adds pressure for you to commit to a certain teacher straightaway and feels very unfair to the teachers.
- There are fewer teachers available than on italki and Preply. This might make it harder for you to find a teacher that meets your exact learning requirements.
- Lessons are more expensive than on italki. Some teachers are active on both platforms but charge higher rates on Verbling.
- All teachers earn $5.10 for the trial lesson, regardless of the rate they set for themselves.
italki, Preply and Verbling provide teachers for learning a wide variety of languages. italki’s teachers tutor in more than 100 languages, while Preply’s tutors teach 27 different languages, and Verbling offers tutoring in 62 languages.
Pricing is teacher and language-dependent on all three platforms. Out of the three, the teachers on italki charge the least, but lessons can be anywhere from $4 per hour to $60+ per hour.
How languages are taught with italki
Italki gives you the freedom to book your classes directly with a tutor to a schedule that suits you. Teachers are available for more than 100 languages, and in most cases, you’ll find a teacher on italki for a lower cost than if you were to book locally for personal sessions.
On italki, you can pick between two key teacher types: professional teachers and community tutors.
Professional tutors are verified by italki, and tend to (although not always) charge higher rates per hour. They have either a university degree in education or professional teaching experience. Community teachers are either native speakers or know their language at an advanced level.
When you’re finding a tutor, you can click on their profile to see their full details. These include the number of students and lessons taught, teaching time on italki, a personal bio, teaching specialties, and a review section. Reading previous students’ reviews is a particularly helpful way to get a sense of a tutor’s teaching style.
To take a lesson with a teacher, you’ll first have to pay for credits that you can use on the site. Note that there’s a processing fee for purchasing these credits, which is slightly annoying. However, it’s easy to try out new teachers on italki, as most teachers offer a 30-minute trial class at a discounted rate.
The lessons themselves usually take place one-on-one over video chat at a time that’s convenient for you. italki also offers a number of additional features to take advantage of, including articles about certain aspects of language learning, a notebook section for improving your writing skills, and an answers section to ask any questions you might have about a language.
If you’d rather not spend any money at all on language learning, italki’s language partners feature lets you find a language exchange partner to practice a language with. You can search for community members in the same way that you’d find a teacher.
How languages are taught with Preply
Preply’s initial focus was to provide online SAT and ACT tutoring services, but it’s now expanded to focus more on language learning. You can find more than 25,000 teachers on the site, covering 27 different languages.
To find a teacher on Preply, you’ll be able to search for what you’re after and view basic profile details at a glance. Clicking on a teacher’s profile brings up more info, including a short bio, and an introduction video, which gives you an idea of a teacher’s personality, as well as their accent, “teaching voice” and the equipment they’re working with.
The first lesson you book with any teacher is a trial lesson, which doesn’t mean what I expected it to mean.
The trial lesson is still a full hour and you still pay full price, the only difference is that teachers don’t get paid for this lesson (sounds like bs to me). You can request a refund or a tutor replacement, which I imagine most people would be hesitant to do, as they likely assume that’d be taking money out of the tutor’s pockets.
Preply’s method of booking lessons isn’t the most convenient either. You have to book hours with a single teacher, which could present an issue if your teacher’s trial lesson is fantastic, but lessons slowly lose quality hour-by-hour.
Like the other platforms, Preply doesn’t have any say in curriculum or teaching styles across the platform, lessons are very much unique to your teacher. Some teachers will be a better fit for you than others, as they all have their own way of doing things.
How languages are taught with Verbling
Finding a teacher on Verbling is almost exactly the same as on italki and Preply. You can browse teachers and see where they’re from, their rates, a small bio about them, and their star rating. There’s also a handy video introduction to learn more about your teacher’s accent and teaching style.
Verbling’s tutors are professionals only, with teaching qualifications or experience. Tutors need to submit an application to teach on Verbling.
Verbling uses its own platform to host online classes. You simply log into your account and take classes directly from there. This is a bonus for people who don’t want to take their classes off their teaching platform.
It’s interesting to note that you may find the same teachers on Verbling and italki, and they usually charge $1 or $2 more per class on Verbling.
What I enjoy most about Verbling is the ability to pay class by class, without having to leave a deposit or add credits to an account. This gives you more flexibility with booking lessons.
Verbling also offers a free 30-minute trial lesson. It’s worth noting that unlike Preply where teachers aren’t paid for their trial lesson, all teachers on Verbling earn $5.10 for their trial class, regardless of the actual price they charge. While better than nothing, it isn’t ideal for teachers that charge over $10/hour.
italki is the most teacher-friendly in this regard, allowing teachers to set their own prices and not taking a commission on trial lessons.
Overall, while italki, Preply and Verbling offer virtually the same things, there are a few important distinctions between the three of them. And ultimately, your experience will depend primarily on the teacher(s) you end up studying with.
If I were to choose between the three, italki would be my recommendation. They have lower rates, a broader selection of tutors, and useful extra tools. They’re also the most teacher-friendly when it comes to trial classes.
Verbling is a solid option as well, though lessons tend to be a bit more expensive and without as many teachers to choose from. They’re the only platform that offers a free trial lesson, and while not every teacher is happy about the fixed rate they receive, it’s at least understandable.
I have a major problem with the fact that Preply doesn’t pay teachers for their trial lessons, despite them being a full hour-long and the fact that students pay full price. Additionally, having to purchase lessons from one teacher in bulk, without being able to transfer those lessons to other tutors, is kind of ridiculous.
italki is my first choice personally, but I can understand opting for Verbling. I wouldn’t use Preply unless I was studying a non-language topic, and even then, I’d first look into other options.
Regardless of which platform you go with, I’d recommend using additional resources alongside the time you spend with a tutor. The table belows shows some of our favorites depending on the language you’re learning.
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