Verbling Review – An Alternative to italki?

Verbling or italki for finding a Chinese teacher?

Quick Review
Summary: Verbling is a language learning platform where you can find and book classes directly from a teacher. It’s very similar to italki with a few minor differences. Unfortunately, on Verbling, the cost of lessons are generally higher and the number of teachers to choose from fewer. Still, it’s a fairly good option for finding a teacher.

Teacher Quality
Professional teachers that have to submit an application
Doesn’t use Skype for lessons
Cheaper than most options, but more expensive than italki
I Like
Teachers are experienced and professional.
No need to deposit money or buy credits first. Can simply pay one lesson at a time. Also has many payment options including Bitcoin.
Well designed platform that makes booking lessons easy.
I Don’t Like
Lessons are more expensive compared to italki.
Far fewer teachers to choose from compared to italki.
Fairly expensive if you’re only looking for conversation practice.

Price: The cost of lessons varies depending on the teacher and the language. The average cost for an hour long Spanish class is $18, for French it’s $24, and for German it’s $31. There are many other languages available as well.


When I started studying Chinese, the first tutor I found was on Verbling. She was skilled, professional and helped me get past that very beginner stage. Overall, my experience was rather positive. I found Verbling to be quite a good platform to use and had no real complaints.

No though, if I were to go back and do it again, I wouldn’t use Verbling to find a tutor. While it’s a good option, I don’t think it’s the best.

If you’re looking for a language tutor, typically you’ll choose one of the following three options. 

  1. A platform like italki or Verbling where you book classes directly from the teacher
  2. An online language school
  3. Finding a local teacher from somewhere like Facebook, Craigslist or an acquaintance.

Finding a local teacher is almost always the most expensive and least convenient. I found this to be true even though I’ve been studying Mandarin in Beijing. If you don’t live near many native speakers of the language you’re learning, it becomes even less convenient and more expensive.

Online schools are an option but are generally not my first choice (the exception being Baselang for Spanish). There’s a ton of variety when it comes to choosing a school. Some are quite good and will organize a curriculum and have skilled teachers, but more of them are essentially middle-men between you and the teacher, taking a large cut. Typically, you’ll find they’re somewhat flexible with regards to scheduling classes, the number of teachers available is fairly low, and the price is on the high side.

For me personally, I prefer to use a platform like italki or Verbling. On both of these sites, you’ll book your lessons from the tutor directly. This gives a lot more independence and flexibility to both the student and the teacher. You’ll have more say in terms of price, schedule, and your preferences for a teacher. italki and Verbling are quite similar but they aren’t the same.

This article is going to discuss Verbling and then make comparisons to italki.

Finding a teacher

Find a Chinese teacher on Verbling

Browsing teachers on Verbling

The process for finding a teacher on Verbling and italki is essentially the same. You’ll browse teachers and see where they’re from, the price, their rating, and a short description. All teachers on Verbling include a video introduction and many on italki do the same.

On both platforms, you can get a pretty good idea of the teacher’s personality and teaching style before taking any classes. You’ll see their schedule and available time slots. It’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll be able to find a teacher that is a good fit for your learning style and objectives.

Both italki and Verbling have far more teachers you can choose from than other places. Pretty much every online school will have significantly fewer teachers. It’s also much easier to browse and change teachers on Verbling and italki than it is elsewhere.

While Verbling may have more teachers than other online schools, they have far less than italki.

italki also has community tutors, which Verbling does not. To be a community tutor, you don’t need any kind of teaching certificate or experience. You just need to be a native speaker. These community tutors on italki are very affordable and perfect if you only want conversation practice and not necessarily a teacher.

Find a Mandarin teacher on italki

Browsing teachers on italki

How much do the classes cost?

The classes on Verbling are priced a bit cheaper than most online language schools but are more expensive than italki. The average price tends to be between $16 and $31 depending on the language you’re learning

As I mentioned, there are far fewer teachers available on Verbling compared to italki. For those looking for a low-cost option, italki is much better.

Let’s take a look at the cheapest options on both sites. On Verbling there are four Chinese teachers that charge less than $10/hour. If I set the max price at $15, there are only seven teachers at that rate – and three of them are new teachers.

On italki, there are over 60 Chinese teachers charging less than $10 per hour. Of these, 16 are professional teachers and 45 are community tutors. Without a doubt, italki is far better for those looking for a lower cost option.

You’ll find many of the same teachers on both platforms. The same teacher will often charge $1 or $2 less per class on italki compared to Verbling.

italki requires you to first purchase tokens before paying for classes. This is slightly annoying as you’ll have money just sitting in your account. I like how Verbling allows you to simply pay class by class without having to deposit first.

Both Verbling and italki have small processing fees when you pay.

Teacher qualifications on italki and Verbling

On italki, to qualify as a professional teacher, the teacher must have one of the following:

  •  Professional teaching experience at a school, university, or language institute
  • University degree in education
  • Teaching certification (i.e. CELTA or TESOL) from an accredited institution

On Verbling, teachers must submit an application. They’re required to have teaching experience and be a native speaker. They say that having a teaching certificate will increase the chances of being accepted as a teacher, but it’s not necessarily required.

Verbling also requires teachers to test their internet speed when submitting an application. One problem you see with lots of teachers, especially from poorer countries, is that they may have problems with a slow internet. This could potentially prevent some of those problems from arising.

However, if someone consistently has a bad internet connection on italki, you’ll likely see this mentioned when students leave reviews and know to avoid them.

The classroom

Both platforms offer online classes.

On italki, the classes are conducted over Skype. Prior to your class time, the teacher will send you a request on Skype and at the scheduled time, the two of you will begin your class. Not every teacher on italki will have the option for video chat. The vast majority do, but it’s possible you’ll find a few that don’t.

Verbling uses their own video platform instead of Skype. You’ll log-in to your Verbling account and take the classes from there directly. This may make it easier for some as you don’t have to deal with Skype. It’s pretty simple and intuitive to use.

I prefer italki over Verbling

italki chinese

Verbling is a solid platform for finding a tutor but italki is the leader when it comes to finding language teachers online.

There aren’t that many good reasons to choose Verbling over italki for finding a Chinese teacher. The main reasons would be if…

  •  you want to avoid using Skype and having to deal with two different applications for your lessons. I’ve been trying to get my Mom to use Skype for years to talk with me and she somehow has never figured out how to use it. If my mom were learning a language, Verbling might be her best option.
  • you find your ideal teacher on Verbling and they don’t have a profile on italki. This will be fairly unlikely given the overlap in teachers between the two platforms and the huge number of teachers italki has. But if you find that perfect teacher, stick with them.
  • you want to use Bitcoin or avoid buying credits first. I prefer Verbling’s checkout and payment process.

Verbling Reviw

Verbling is an awesome platform but it’s not my first choice for finding a teacher. The problem is that there are a lot fewer teachers on Verbling compared to italki. This gives you fewer options, makes it more expensive and allows less flexibility for scheduling your lessons.

Click here to see the teachers available on italki.

Click here to visit Verbling.

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  1. Pingback: Mandarin Weekly #137 – Mandarin Weekly (每周中文)

  2. My experience with verbling is really I have none which is not good. I applied as a teacher and was accepted and they turned my profile on live, and once that happened, nothing… My “mentor” who was fast to respond suddenly stopped corresponding even to direct questions. So much for, “ask me anything anytime.” What’s worse, I’ve not had a single booking after an entire month. I guess it’s just all a gimmick? I’ve sent articles and post community questions and even answer some, but nothing… No responses, no nothing. I’ve even gotten a few thumbs down on my simple question I asked about slang v. formal. It’s like I’m invisible. Verbling is a non-entity for me and my expectations were not even close to being met.

    • Do you have any experience with italki? I’ve been teaching online on a different site for almost a year, and thinking of applying for both sites. I thought Verbling seemed better because teachers have to actually be qualified, unlike the site I’m currently working on, but now I’m not sure…

      • I don’t have any experience teaching on italki but I’ve taken classes on both. I know a lot of teachers use both platforms for finding students as well. As a student, I prefer italki just because it’s easier to find someone that fits my preferences.

  3. iTalki has no support. There isn’t even an email address for you to click. You have to dig around for a long time (took me almost half an hour) to find a way to even trigger a reply form. I don’t like it anymore, as a student. This might be helpful for you teachers to know that there are a bunch of students who prefer Verbling. I took lessons for a year and never had problems. I take lessons on iTalki and 1) there is a fee you pay to PAY. So your lesson price has an extra $2 surcharge on it!!!! 2) like I said, the least support I’ve EVER seen on any site of any type and 3) I can’t remember which, but there are some really basic interface things you can do in Verbling that you can’t in iTalki. Verbling has a built in chat system, so all your chat messages are in one place, it has a better screen sharing, it has a translator and dictionary tool on the chat screen. It’s LOADS better. I only used iTalki because I like the instant tutoring to get a lesson whenever. But after awhile, when you see it’s always the same 5 or 6 teachers, if you don’t like them, it doesn’t matter when they are available. It looked good at first, but the longer I use iTalki, the less I like it.