Preply originally launched in 2012 in Ukraine as an online 1-on-1 SAT/ACT tutoring platform before pivoting in 2013 to focus primarily on 1-on-1 language learning, and has since raised around $4 million and grown to a platform with thousands of registered tutors. Here I’ll be testing Preply, writing about whether you should use it as a student or a teacher, comparing it to other platforms, and writing about its pros/cons. Let’s get started!
EDITORS NOTE: If you’ve used Preply as a student or teacher, let us know what you think of it: you can submit a comment here and we’ll add it to this article. Also, if you’re looking for language learning tools and software where you don’t have to speak to a real person, check out our user-submitted reviews of Rosetta Stone, Duolingo, Mondly and Babbel.
How does Preply work for students?
Preply is designed for 1-on-1 lessons where students search for a suitable teacher, and can then book a lesson with them. You can search the following criteria:
- What the teacher teaches (English, Spanish etc.)
- Price per hour
- Where the tutor is from
- When the tutor is available
But you can get more specific than just that. For each teaching subject you can find tutors for on Preply, there are also many subcategories to help you narrow things down more and find the exact right tutor for you. I found this extremely helpful from the point of view of a student. For example, if you’re looking for English tutors on Preply, you can then narrow it down further with specialties like the following:
- Type of English taught (Business English, conversational English, English for beginners, English for traveling etc.)
- English accent taught (American English, British English etc.)
- Test preparation (whether the test is IELTS, TOEFL, ESOL, ACT English etc.)
- English for people with learning disabilities (English for ADHD students, dyslexic students etc.)
There’s also a checkbox to return only native speakers of the language they’re teaching, which I strongly recommend. Then once you’re done with all that, you can sort by the usual features like relevance, popularity, price, reviews and rating.
From the point of view of a student, therefore, finding a tutor on Preply is an extremely pleasant experience, because you should be able to find the perfect tutor(s) for your exact needs within just a few seconds. Here’s what the interface looks like (click the image to enlarge):
Once you click on a teacher, you’ll be able to see their full profile where they’ll have information like the following:
- About the tutor (some tutors just write a paragraph about themselves here, while others write a whole essay)
- Reviews for the teacher left by their students
- Short resume (not a full one – most teachers will just have bullet points under sections like Education, Work experience and Certifications)
- More detail about the specific subjects they teach
Once you’re on a teacher’s profile page, you can book a trial lesson by clicking the “Book trial lesson” button on the right. You’ll get a popup like this:
Then you’ll be taken to the checkout page, where you can pay via credit card or PayPal (very convenient 🙂 ):
Then you’ll get taken to the confirmation page:
Lessons in Preply may take place within the actual website (though there is the option to go through something like Skype) where they have a nice interface and everything is tracked really nicely. There’s a tab at the side for messages and notes, like this:
As a student on Preply, my experience using it to take lessons is highly positive — the website works great. I can’t comment too much on the quality of the tutors on it yet as I’ve only tried one, though for any given tutor you can read reviews left by their students to get a good idea of whether they’d be worth the money.
How does Preply work for tutors?
As a tutor for Preply, you’ll create a profile and then hope students will find you and book you. Here’s the information you need to fill in:
- About you (name, email, languages, subjects, hourly rate etc.)
- Description (you can go into as much detail as you want here)
- Introduction video under 2 minutes (this will be shown on your profile page to students interested in booking you)
- Availability (what hours you should be available each week)
- Verification (picture of you holding your passport)
Then once you’re verified on Preply, you’ll have to hope students will find you in the search results and book you, because you can’t reach out to students yourself. I’m reluctant to give advice on how to get students since I have not worked on Preply as a tutor myself, but based on my experiences as a student, I’d recommend considering specializing in a particular niche. If you just make a generic English teacher profile offering any and all English-related teaching services including test preparation, conversational English, business English and everything else, it’d probably be difficult to find students as you’re competing with hundreds or thousands of other tutors.
Is Preply any good for learning things other than languages?
While Preply’s focus is language learning, that’s not all they do. You can also find teachers on Preply for areas like the following:
- Programming (every major programming language is listed)
- Numerous school subjects (Math, Physics, Geography, Chemistry etc.)
- Public speaking
- Graphic design
… And a lot more. Most of these areas have plenty of tutors (searching the broad “Math” category gets over 700 tutors at the time of writing), though some (Data science, for example) may get you just a small handful of tutors. For areas where there aren’t many tutors on Preply, you may be better off going to a learning platform specifically focusing on that subject. If you’re looking for 1-on-1 programming help, for example, you’d probably find something like Codementor is much better than Preply.
How does Preply compare to other language learning platforms like italki?
There’s no shortage of services like Preply, so this is the important question. Preply is very well built and the website works perfectly (at least in my experience), so you can expect a very good service as both a student and tutor, just like you can other platforms like Italki (see our Italki review for more info on Italki). The main difference between Preply and other learning platforms is the cut they take from tutors. Preply makes its money by taking a percentage of revenue from tutors, with the following commission structure:
Those are some steep fees, and many tutors find them immoral. As a new tutor on Preply, they’ll take the entire first hour of revenue of what every new student you get pays you. No matter how many hours you have on Preply and how much time you’ve spent there, as a tutor, every time a new student books a 1 hour lesson with you, you’re taking the risk that you won’t get paid for it.
Then, even after the first hour for each student you take, Preply will be taking a big 18% to 33% bite out of you. And for most tutors on Preply, it’ll be much closer to 33%, because the majority of tutors on Preply do not have any feedback and are brand new. Take a look at English tutors on Preply sorted by reviews, for example: at the time of writing, there are 965 pages of them, or 9,642 in total. But if you go to the 200th page and beyond (representing nearly 80% of English tutors on Preply), you’ll find that they are listed as new tutors.
It’s therefore clearly very difficult to make significant money on Preply: most tutors on there make nothing, and those that make anything get a big cut of their earnings taken from them by Preply. Preply’s main competitor italki, by comparison, charges a flat commission of only 15% and nothing else. Same for Verbling (15% commission), a slightly smaller platform.
For tutors, I therefore recommend focusing more efforts on italki than Preply as it’ll simply pay better.
For students, you’ll get a similar experience with Preply as you would with italki — both platforms are easy to use and have great tutors, and you won’t have to worry about the commissions they charge to tutors.
The bottom line
Preply is definitely a great language learning platform for students, and you’ll probably be able to find a very good tutor for your needs. Like Italki, it’s one of the best ways to learn a foreign language. As a tutor, however, it’s a tough gig given the very high commissions Preply will take from you and the difficulty in getting students to book you.
What do others say about Preply?
We are collecting user reviews for Preply and will add them to this piece as they come in. If you’ve used Preply, let us know what you think of it!
Here’s what we’ve received on Preply so far:
I’ve used Preply as well as similar services such as italki. I would definitely recommend it or another service that connects you with a tutor. The tutors I’ve found on Preply have all been excellent.
There are two great uses I see of Preply:
(1) As a beginner, tutors can help you with pronunciation and basic mistakes. Using a native language tutor instead of simply learning on your own helps correct mistakes before they become habits.
(2) As a more intermediate or advanced learner, the major benefit is immersion. All of my Japanese lessons on Preply are 100% Japanese. This allows me to fully immerse myself in Japanese for the full hour of the lesson. I think such experience is invaluable for furthering your speaking skills, especially if you currently don’t live in a country where your target language is spoken.
--Jay Allen, Unseen Japan
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