italki, Preply, and Verbling are online and app-based platforms that match teachers to language students. All three resources allow you to book classes directly with a teacher for a wide range of languages.
Table of Contents
While italki, Preply, and Verbling work very similarly and offer virtually the same opportunities to students, they do have some 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 many extra community features for free, which can help you get more out of your language learning experience.
- Preply has lots of other subjects besides languages, and lesson packages can be transferred to change the teacher.
- Verbling and italki let you pay for one class at a time, which makes purchasing lessons more convenient than it is on Preply.
All three platforms offer flexibility, allowing you to book classes to a schedule that suits you.
Italki offers the best value for money, has the biggest range of teachers to choose from, and has great free features.
Preply has great teacher support, and its payment method allows you to have multiple teachers or transfer funds.
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. That said, the tutor-pairing apps don’t offer a language course in the traditional sense, so they work best as a complementary resource to a structured course.
Advantages of Each Platform
- You can 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.
- As you search for teachers, you will easily see how many lessons the teacher has previously taught, their ranking, and their qualifications.
- You will find tutors for rare languages that Preply and Verbing do not offer.
- You can get your writing corrected for free in the Exercise section of the app, find other language learners to connect with, and post in the dedicated Questions section, among other free learning tools.
- Italki doesn’t take a commission on a teacher’s trial classes.
- Focuses on English and other language learning and corporate language training for businesses, among other subjects. This is not strictly a language-learning program like italki.
- Has more than 32,000 teachers and tutors, though not all of them teach a foreign language.
- 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, using whichever payment method is most convenient.
- Teachers must prove they have a fast internet connection before being accepted to the platform.
- Verbling offers over 10,000 teachers with varying levels of experience.
- You can take a free 30-minute trial lesson to see if you like a teacher before committing.
Disadvantages of Each Platform
- In order to hire a teacher, you have to buy credits from the platform. The downside here is that if you leave credits in your account for 12 months without logging in, you’ll lose those credits.
- You have to pay a processing fee when purchasing credits.
- Preply improved its package pricing, so now students can change teachers and move unused funds. This adds a lot of flexibility that used to be a sore spot of Preply.
- Teachers don’t receive payment for trial lessons even though students pay. It used to be an hour long, but now the trial is 25 minutes. That alleviates the pressure for you to commit to a certain teacher straightaway.
- 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 150 languages, while Preply’s tutors teach 27 different languages, and Verbling offers tutoring in 70 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 in 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 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.
Scheduling a lesson with a teacher is pretty straightforward, but note that there’s a processing fee for purchasing a lesson, 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. You can even search by schedule specifically to find a teacher who can work in your desired time frame.
italki also offers a number of additional features, including articles about certain aspects of language learning, an Exercise section for improving your writing skills, and a Questions section to ask any questions you might have about a language.
If you’d rather not spend any money at all on language learning, there are plenty of learners on italki who are looking for language exchange partners. You can chat with other learners for free.
How languages are taught with Preply
Preply’s initial focus was to provide online SAT and ACT tutoring services, but it has expanded to focus more on language learning. You can find more than 32,000 teachers on the site, covering 50+ different languages.
To find a teacher on Preply, you can search for a teacher specializing in the language you want, and then 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, This intro lesson is 25 minutes long, but unfortunately, teachers don’t get paid for this lesson. This does not seem fair, especially if you do not think the teacher is a good fit for you, and move on to try another teacher later.
One thing that Preply does better than others is the teacher trainings and resources that are available to teachers. It still gives each teachers lots of freedom to show their ability. 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 all professionals 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.
One of the great things 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 who 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.
Alternatives to italki, Verbling, and Preply
Teacher-matching platforms like italki, Verbling, and Preply can provide a wonderful language-learning resource for students who thrive under personal attention and need encouragement to practice speaking their new language. But you can also find excellent alternatives to these programs.
If the biggest reason you looked into language tutor-matching apps is that you want a chance to practice speaking your new language, you can find a free alternative! Apps like HelloTalk match you with native speakers of the language you want to learn.
You can hold a conversation via video chat, voice chat, or even just through text, depending on your comfort level. This free app is all about pairing possible conversation partners, so you won’t get lessons or a structured learning program. But you do get feedback on your speaking abilities and a chance to practice putting your new language skills to use.
Working with a tutor gives you personal feedback and a valuable chance to practice conversation and improve pronunciation. That said, meeting with a teacher once a week may not provide enough structure and material for you to focus on every day. This is one of the main reasons you may want to pair a structured language learning program with your tutoring season.
Pimsleur’s app-based language learning programs use a technique called spaced repetition to help you permanently remember new subject matter. The program also focuses a lot on audio learning and offers direct speaking software to provide a chance for speaking practice.
Pimsleur does have highly structured lessons you progress through in a specific order. This way you can take full advantage of the spaced repetition theory and keep cycling back to review of material.
The app does require a subscription fee of $19.95/month. Depending on how much you pay per lesson with a teacher, this could cost more or less than a tutoring app.
OuiNo takes a fairly unique approach as a language-learning program. It markets itself as a core language learning program that works well when paired with other resources such as tutors or conversation apps. It gives you everything you need to know for the core stuff, like grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
But it also encourages you to immerse yourself in additional language-learning experiences like watching movies in your new language.
Another unique thing about OuiNo is that you do not have to work through the lessons in a set progression. If you plan to work with a tutor, you could easily tailor your OuiNo lessons to match up with what you learn from your tutor each week.
The downside to OuiNo is that it only covers very popular languages, at least so far. It also has a fairly high one-time fee of $95.76 for lifetime access to the program.
How to Learn a Language with an Online Tutor
Working with a language tutor via an app like italki or Verbling can speed up your language-learning process big time, but you should keep a few things in mind in order to get the most out of the experience.
1. First, the biggest advantage to working with a private tutor is that you can hold practice conversations and get real-time feedback on your vocabulary and pronunciation. Even the best language-learning apps that use direct speech software can’t match the abilities of an in-person tutor!
But in order to get the most out of this, you have to set aside your discomfort and worry about embarrassing yourself, and just dive in and speak the new language. You may even need to set the right tone by asking your tutor to offer corrections as you begin lessons together.
2. Second, most tutors and teachers will have a lesson plan they tailor to fit your needs. But as with any language-learning program, you will get out of this what you put in.
If you prepare for the lesson ahead of time, do your homework, and come to the video session ready to practice what you learned, you will cover more ground and ultimately learn much more than someone who feels hesitant and sits back to just listen to the tutor without putting in a lot of work.
It is also worth noting that you may want to use a tutor as a valuable add-on to your core language-learning program, such as an app-based program that covers grammar and other essentials. This way, you can focus on key benefits like a conversation with the tutor.
3. Take your time finding the right teacher. Platforms like italki do a great job of providing information about teachers, including reviews from previous students. But you should also head into your trial lesson prepared to interview the prospective teacher to see if they will work well with you or not. This can simply boil down to whether or not you feel an affinity with the tutor’s personality and online presence.
But you should also prepare questions to ask the teacher about what kind of lesson plans they use, how they work with students who have unique learning needs, and whether or not the tutor will grade homework.
4. Make sure you select a tutor who specializes in the dialect, accent, or other linguistic variations that you want to learn.
For example, you can learn either European or Bazilian Portuguese, as each dialect has its own distinct features. A language like Korean or Japanese can vary slightly when spoken by either a man or a woman, so you may also want to find a gender-specific tutor.
5. Some teachers and some tutoring platforms allow you to record your lessons. Of course, you should ask the tutor before hitting the record button! If the tutor does allow this, recording your lessons provides a valuable chance for later review. You may find it especially helpful to circle back to the way your teacher pronounces certain words or phrases, so you can practice.
6. Finally, most experienced teachers will help you set goals for your lessons together and provide a structured learning environment.
You want to make sure you don’t waste your expensive time together with your teacher–while the conversation is valuable, you should make sure you converse with a purpose and always circle back to review the vocabulary, grammar, or other concepts you plan to focus on in each lesson.
italki, Preply, and Verbling offer virtually the same things but have a few important distinctions. Ultimately, your experience will depend primarily on the teacher(s) you end up studying with.
Overall, italki offers the best user experience. Italki has lower rates, a broader selection of tutors, and useful extra tools. It’s also the most teacher-friendly when it comes to trial classes.
We think Preply is also a great option because it has a massive number of tutors to choose from. Also, now it allows the lesson funds to be transferred to different teachers with ease. Along with it, Preply seems to be the most proactive in improving its user experiences, so by the time we will update this article next time, I wouldn’t be surprised if we recommend Preply even more highly.
Verbling is a solid option as well, though lessons tend to be a bit more expensive. Plus, Verbling offers fewer teachers to choose from. That said, this is 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.
Italki and Preply make great choices as a platform to match you with a language-learning tutor, but Verbling can also work well.
Regardless of which platform you go with, you will likely want to use additional resources alongside the time you spend with a tutor. The table below shows some of our favorites depending on the language you’re learning.
To see all of our favorite programs, online subscriptions, apps, podcasts, and YouTubes for the language you’re learning, look for your language in the table below.