Preply is an online tutoring service. They have thousands of tutors with all kinds of specialties, from maths and sciences to art and even Pokemon Go!. Of course, the reason I decided to check it out is that they also offer lessons in a wide variety of languages.
Anyone who has tried to learn a new language knows that if you want to become truly fluent, you will have to find a native speaker to talk to, preferably a tutor who will be able to properly teach you the nuances of the language that you can’t get from books or apps.
In previous years, finding a good tutor was a challenge, especially if you wanted to learn a less popular language. Nowadays, thanks to the internet, finding a tutor is a lot less harrowing. Online tutoring is a fast-growing market, taking us from having too few tutoring options to having almost too many!
Preply is not unique or revolutionary, other platforms like italki, Busuu, and Live Lingua, offer online language tutoring in a similar fashion. So what sets this platform apart? Is it better than the others? Well, you’re about to find out. Come along with me while we take an in-depth look at this website and what it has to offer.
Signing up for the website is free, but the lessons range from approximately $8 to $40 per hour depending on the tutor. For the more common languages, the price seems to average around $15 per hour.
Initial Thoughts Of Preply
My first thought when I started poking around Preply’s website is that it looks exactly like every other online tutoring website that I’ve looked at. In a side-by-side comparison, I would almost say that all of these websites were designed by the same person.
Their app is also pretty standard, offering a clean layout and easy navigation, although many of the user reviews mentioned lag and glitches. Personally, I would rather take video lessons on a computer, so this review will focus mainly on their online platform rather than the app.
Although Preply started as a general teaching website, their focus has shifted to language learning, so their home page is all about the languages they offer and how the program works. This makes it nice for newcomers because you can easily review how their program works without having to sign up for anything.
As I mentioned, this program offers tutoring in a large range of subjects. They have 24 languages listed on the homepage, including all the most common options like French, Italian, and German. They offer a few other languages that aren’t listed on the homepage, such as Sanskrit and Norwegian, but tutors are limited so you have to go looking for them.
That brings me to one of the things that I like best about this program and that’s how easy it is to look for tutors. I’ll go over the whole process a little later, but I wanted to mention here that you can look through their extensive list of tutors without having to sign up.
This is particularly helpful for those who want to learn something a little more obscure. You can search for the subject you’re interested in and view your options. This will save you from creating an account only to find out that there aren’t any tutors available for your chosen subject.
Signing Up For Preply
Speaking of creating an account, let’s get to it! Signing up is super simple. You can either create a new account or you can sign up with an existing Google or Facebook account. I chose to use my Google account, so logging in took less than 30 seconds.
Once you sign up, they will send you a simple confirmation email to ensure that they have the right email address. They will also send you a lot of promotional emails, so prepare yourself for a bit of spam.
One thing that I found a bit odd was that even though my browser settings are set to American English, Preply automatically assumed I was trying to learn English and within seconds of signing up I began receiving emails about English tutors.
The first page that loads after logging in is the tutor search page. I was automatically presented with English tutors here as well. This isn’t a big deal, it just seemed a bit odd. When you log into the app, it asks you what language you would like to learn and then brings up tutors according to your response, which seems a bit more sensible.
Finding A Tutor
Going directly to the “Find Tutors” page makes it easy to get started. Going through all the profiles can be kind of fun, but also time-consuming, especially if you choose a popular language like Spanish.
In an attempt to make your search a little easier, Preply provides a short questionnaire that you can take in order to get tutor recommendations. Unfortunately, the questionnaire only contains one question that isn’t part of the search filters, so it isn’t really helpful.
I ended up with almost 3,000 results using the questionnaire, while using the search options I was able to narrow it down to 200, so I would recommend filling in as many search criteria as you can to help ease your search.
Your initial search will include four criteria: Tutor Teaches, Price Per Hour, Originally From, and Tutor is Available.
Tutor Teaches allows you to select the subject you would like to learn. There are approximately 130 subjects to choose from, so if you’re still in school or just like to learn, you may find this website good for more than just language learning.
Price Per Hour obviously allows on you to limit your search to tutors who are within your chosen price range.
Originally From is a handy search option if you’re studying a language that has multiple dialects. This allows you to search for tutors who are native to the region you’re most interested in.
Tutor is Available allows you to search for tutors based on when they are available for lessons. This is helpful if you have a tight schedule and are only available for lessons on specific days.
You can search with as many or as few of the criteria as you want, just remember that in this case, more is better.
Once you’ve chosen your desired subject there are three other search options that allow you to limit your search based on the tutors’ specialties, other languages they speak, and whether or not they are native speakers.
This part of the process is a little reminiscent of a dating website. Once you’ve entered all your search criteria you will be presented with a long list of mini bios. You'll see the tutor’s name, where they’re from, how much they charge per hour, and their student rating. The mini bios also include a photo of the tutor as well as a short introduction message from them.
If you see a tutor that catches your eye, you can click on their name to view their full profile. This expanded profile will show their availability, details about their specialties, and the type of students they prefer.
The Prefered Student section allows the tutor to list both the age range and proficiency levels that they prefer to teach. This is another nice detail that will help you find a tutor who is a good fit for you.
The expanded profile is also where you will find reviews from other language learners and a short introduction video from the tutor. All of these features will help you to familiarize yourself with the tutor before you schedule a lesson.
How To Schedule A Lesson On Preply
Booking a lesson is quite simple. You can either book a lesson from the "Find Tutors" page or from the tutor’s profile. The website will display the available time slots in your local timezone, making it simple to choose the time that works best for you.
The first lesson that you schedule is considered a trial lesson. You have to pay for the trial just like you would a regular lesson, but if the lesson isn’t satisfactory you can request a refund or schedule a lesson with a new tutor for free.
Preply lists the cost of trial lessons as part of their commission, meaning that the teacher will not be paid for trial lessons. With that in mind, be conscientious when scheduling.
After you book your lesson you will be given the opportunity to fill out a bit of personal information concerning your proficiency level and learning goals. Like the “Find a Tutor” questionnaire, this is a good idea that just isn’t executed very well.
You will be asked what languages you speak and how well you speak them as well as why you want to learn your target language. Unfortunately, the answer options are limited and pretty general. Be prepared to go over these subjects in your trial lesson so that your teacher can have a better idea of what type of lessons you’ll need.
The survey does include a bit of interesting information at the end. You’ll be asked what your language goals are and when you would like to achieve those goals. It also asks how much time per week you would like to spend studying.
From that information, they somehow calculate the approximate number of lessons you’ll need as well as how many hours of self-study you will have to do to reach your goal. This isn’t an exact science, of course, but it could help you to design a more consistent study plan, which is always good.
You can book multiple lessons in advance, making it easy to plan out your week. You can track all of your lessons, both past and future, in the My Lessons tab under your profile. Your profile also includes a section for requests and a place where you can adjust your profile settings.
You can also view your language goals from this section, but it isn’t very detailed or particularly helpful.
PrePly Lesson Structure
Similar to most online tutoring programs, Preply gives their tutors free rein over the lesson structure. This can be both good and bad, but in my experience, it’s mostly good.
Just as every language learner has their own learning style, each teacher has their own teaching style. Allowing the teachers to present the information in their own way, gives them the chance to be themselves and to enjoy what they do. That enjoyment is then reflected in the quality of their lessons.
For this review, I tried a couple of lessons in beginner Japanese and a couple of advanced Spanish lessons. Each of my tutors had a different approach to learning, but they were all helpful and informative.
Each lesson started with a short introduction period where I was able to tell my teachers a bit about myself and vice versa. I enjoy learning about different cultures just as much as I enjoy language learning, so I never tire of meeting new people and learning from them.
After the introduction, each lesson was completely unique. The Japanese teachers were very patient with me because I am a Japanese newbie. The Spanish teachers were able to challenge me and give me some solid feedback about what I still need to work on.
There is such a vast number of tutors on this platform that I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that fits your learning style. You may have to take a few trial lessons to find the right one, but every lesson is a learning opportunity, so just enjoy the experience. You never know, you may find a few teachers that you really like.
When you do find a tutor that you enjoy working with, you can add them to your favorites. This allows you to easily access their profile and schedule more lessons.
Once you’ve finished your lesson, be sure to confirm that you attended. This will ensure that the teacher is paid, if it was a regular lesson, and it will give you the chance to report the quality of your learning experience.
This is my least favorite thing about the Preply platform. Unlike some similar programs, Preply does not allow you to purchase individual lessons whenever you want. You have to purchase packages of hours, either 5, 10, or 20 at once.
This wouldn't be too bad, except that the hours are restricted to a specific teacher and they are almost impossible to refund or transfer if you end up wanting to switch teachers. Plus, even though you are paying for the lessons in advance, the teachers do not get paid in advance. According to many of the reviews I’ve read, they sometimes don’t get paid at all.
The payment platform seems to be very glitchy and their customer service is subpar. Thankfully, I did not have any major issues, but many other people have. I would not recommend purchasing anything but the minimum number of hours until you know for certain that you want to stick with a particular tutor.
Extra Features Of Preply
Unfortunately, this platform does not offer much in the way of extra features unless you’re trying to learn English.
They do have a blog, but it’s all about learning English. This makes sense, considering that Preply is a Ukraine-based company, but it would be nice if they had at least a few extra features for all of their students. Even just a simple community section, like that found on italki, would be nice.
They do have a convenient internal messaging system where you can communicate with your tutors, but this is only helpful if you find a kind tutor who doesn’t mind helping out their students for free.
Downsides To Preply
Every language learning program or app has its good parts and its not-so-good parts. Usually, this has to do with the way the program works or features that are lacking, but in this case, the biggest downside is the way they treat their employees.
I am not a teacher, so I do not have any personal experience dealing with Preply, but after reading a large number of reviews and posts from many tutors, I find Preply’s business practices a bit dubious.
For starters, they keep all the money from every trial lesson and they charge up to 33% in commissions for new tutors. As the tutor continues to gain hours of experience on the platform, that percentage goes down, but only to 18%. I know that the website needs to be funded as well, but 33% is a bit exorbitant to me.
Another issue that came up quite often in reviews was Preply’s lack of customer service. Some tutors reported being charged even higher commission fees or simply not receiving payment at all. They had to reach out to Preply repeatedly and some simply never heard back.
Every employer will have negative reviews to some extent, but the large amount of negativity connected to this company gave me pause. Their website lists a large number of positive comments about how much the tutors enjoy working for them, but other review sites tell a different story, another fact that made me hesitant to promote this program.
The tutors that I spoke to seemed to like the platform well enough and hadn’t had any major issues, so perhaps it just depends on the person. There is a large FAQ section for tutors on the website, so if you do want to become a tutor for Preply, I would read the fine print carefully before signing up.
More and more people are embracing online learning these days, which means that there are tons of tutors out there just waiting to help you perfect your new language skills! If Preply doesn’t seem quite right for you, you may want to check out a few of these other options.
italki is one of the best online tutoring programs out there. They have thousands of tutors in more languages than I could name off the top of my head. Scheduling lessons is simple and their free community section is unbeatable.
Baselang is the perfect choice for anyone who is learning Spanish. It is a bit pricey, but the value is unbeatable. With unlimited live lessons, they will have you speaking Spanish before you know it.
Verbling has a very similar format to italki and Preply. Finding tutors and scheduling classes is easy. The best part about this program is that you can purchase individual classes instead of having to buy credits or hours as you do on other platforms.
Busuu is a great choice if you want to combine your self-taught lessons with your tutoring lessons. Busuu is an app that offers quick vocabulary and grammar lessons along with fun practice exercises. They also allow you to schedule live lessons through the app so you can have a truly comprehensive learning experience.
Obviously, different people have different learning experiences, so never settle for just one program. If you don’t feel like you’re making any progress, or if you dread practicing each day, maybe it’s time to try something new. There are all kinds of options out there, so make sure you try a few before investing too much into any one program.
Preply Review: Final Thoughts
Overall, I would say that the idea of this program is great, it’s just somewhat lacking in follow-through. The layout of the app is nice, but it lags terribly. The website looks nice, but it’s a bit too busy and can be a bit overwhelming.
The scheduling system is simple, but it’s glitchy. Sometimes classes register right away and other times they don’t. All the tutors that I had were very kind and seemed competent, but I came across a lot of user reviews that talked about tutors who were late to classes or never showed up at all.
All and all, I think there is a lot of potential here. If nothing else, they have an enormous pool of teachers to pull from, so your chances of finding one who can meet your needs are pretty high. I would simply proceed with caution. Look through the tutor profiles carefully and don’t invest a lot of money into buying hours until you are sure that you and your tutor are compatible.
In the end, it’s all about getting that one-on-one language practice that you need to take your language skills to the next level. No matter which tutoring service you choose, if it’s helping you achieve your goals then it’s the right program.
Just remember, it’s important to challenge yourself, so don’t choose a program that’s too easy, choose one that will help you grow and progress.