Our Review of Preply
If you don’t live near native speakers, online tutoring with Preply can be a perfect way to practice speaking. As with any language learning method or platform, your success largely depends on how frequently you study and how much effort you put into your learning.
Tools & Resources7.6
Value for Cost10
Preply is a Ukraine-based e-learning platform that connects students and tutors from around the world for 1-1 lessons via video call. As of 2021, Preply had more than 140,000 registered tutors from 203 different countries.
Table of Contents
- How does Preply work?
- How much does Preply cost?
- Where do Preply lessons take place?
- Our experience with language tutoring lessons on Preply
- What we liked about Preply
- What we didn’t like about Preply
- Online language lessons vs. in-person language classes – which is better?
- The bottom line – is Preply worth your time?
How does Preply work?
Finding a qualified tutor on Preply is quite easy. All you have to do is enter in what you’re looking for – the language, price range, country of origin preference and times you’re available – then the platform will show you a list of tutors that match.
The tutor bios are well organized and include all of the information a learner will need, such as their hourly rate, the number of students they currently have and their overall rating. Tutor bios also include short video introductions which are helpful for getting a better understanding of their personality and teaching style. From the tutor’s bio you can message them directly or book a trial lesson to see if it’s a match.
If you enjoy your trial lesson, you can then book a lesson package and schedule more lessons with your tutor. All interactions with your tutor – from scheduling to video calls to homework and notes – take place on Preply’s platform, which makes it super easy for learners to manage their learning plan.
How much does Preply cost?
Preply is a bit more expensive than other similar platforms, mostly because Preply takes a commission from its tutors. Preply takes a 100% commission for the first lesson a student takes with a new tutor. After that, Preply takes between 18% and 33% of a lesson fee depending on how many lessons the tutor has taught on the platform.
Lesson prices generally depend on the skill being taught. Skills with fewer tutors available, such as Swedish, are likely to be more expensive; we saw lesson prices generally in the $30-40 range.
More commonly studied languages like Spanish or French tend to have lower prices – generally in the range of $15-20.
We booked tutors for Russian and Portuguese and paid about $15 per hour for each lesson. Unfortunately, Preply doesn’t make it possible to purchase individual lessons on their platform: you can only buy lessons in increments of 6, 12, 20 or 40. When starting with a new tutor, we generally prefer to take 2 or 3 lessons so we can tell if it’s going to be a fit or not. It’s inconvenient that the platform forces users to commit to at least 6 lessons.
Where do Preply lessons take place?
Lessons take place on Preply’s “Classroom” video platform, which works sort of like Zoom. Preply will send you notifications before your class, which can be changed in the user settings. We opted to receive notifications one hour before the lesson (Preply also sends you a notification 3 minutes before the lesson).
When it’s time for your lesson, you simply click “Enter Classroom” and begin talking to your tutor. The Classroom platform makes it easy for a teacher to share their screen and go over a piece of study material, write notes in the chat and send over files.
Our Portuguese tutor spent the first 30 minutes of our first lesson asking us various questions both to get to know us and also to get a better understanding of our Portuguese proficiency. After that, she gave us the choice of three lesson topics. It was clear she was quite prepared; we decided to choose a lesson about youth unemployment in Brazil and it was a perfect fit for our proficiency level.
She shared her screen and had us read a short passage from a news article about unemployment. It included an interesting graphic showing the levels of youth unemployment for each state within Brazil. We discussed the material presented and she asked us some very thought-provoking questions, then she sent us the file to review later on.
Contrary to many other online tutoring platforms, Preply’s entire learning experience occurs all in one place – the lessons take place in Preply’s Classroom and the lesson files/notes are all conveniently located on the internal student dashboard.
What will you learn with your Preply language tutor?
What you will learn in your lessons on Preply largely depends on your goals as well as your tutor’s teaching style. Tutors on Preply are not limited to a standard curriculum so each has their own teaching methods and preferred learning resources.
Usually, tutors will reach out to you when you book a lesson and ask you about your language learning goals. We told our Portuguese tutor we were interested in expanding our vocabulary and perfecting our grammar, but mostly wanted to focus on having conversations. As for our Russian tutor, we told her we’d like to learn elementary and intermediate level grammar and get more comfortable having conversations in Russian.
There are thousands upon thousands of tutors available on Preply, meaning you can find someone to help you achieve your goals no matter what they are.
Our experience with language tutoring lessons on Preply
We used Preply to find tutors for beginner/intermediate Russian as well as Brazilian Portuguese. We booked 6 lessons with each tutor (since 6 is unfortunately the minimum number of hours a user can book).
Preply’s placement test
Most tutors will ask if you’d like to take a placement test before beginning your lessons. The placement tests are relatively short and help give tutors a better understanding of a student’s proficiency level. As described on Preply’s website, “Students can effectively communicate their learning goals to their tutor and prepare for their first lesson, and therefore a tailored lesson plan can be created accordingly.”
Our Portuguese placement test had 25 questions listed in increasing difficulty; we were able to complete it in about 15 minutes. Tutors review the placement tests in order to create a lesson plan that fits your proficiency level. While the test is optional, it’s a good idea to take it so you can get the most out of your lessons.
Beginner and intermediate lessons on Preply
We told our Russian tutor we were mostly interested in learning elementary and intermediate level grammar – the Russian case system can be quite a headache for learners. We also told her that we’d like to practice speaking a little more.
Our tutor knew exactly where to begin and has been working with us to perfect our usage of the genitive case (if you thought the German case system was complex with four cases, Russian has six). Our teacher always finds interesting ways to add in some discussion topics too. For example, we told her we were planning to go to the beach after work so she gave a lesson about beach vocabulary – she showed us various beach-related images (sunscreen, flip flops, towels, etc.) and we talked about them using the genitive case. She also gave us some interesting information about the beaches and beach clubs in her hometown, Odessa.
Advanced language lessons on Preply
As for Portuguese, we told our tutor we’d like to expand our vocabulary and potentially review some of the more complicated grammatical structures as they arise, but mostly focus on improving our conversational fluency.
At the end of our first lesson, our tutor noted that we hadn’t used very many subjunctive-tense verbs (i.e. phrases like “If the economy were better, maybe people would have more opportunities”) and asked if we would like to work on those structures next class. This is exactly the type of grammar we were interested in studying, so we happily agreed.
The next three lessons focused on a variety of situations dealing with subjunctive-tense grammar. We generally spend the first half of our hour-long lessons going over a grammatical topic and the second half going over a conversational topic using the grammar we just learned. In our last lesson we spent 30 minutes working on the subjunctive case and then 30 minutes learning about Brazil’s Mega Sena lottery. The article included statements from various people using the subjunctive case to talk about what they would do or buy if they were to win the lottery.
These lessons have been super useful for improving our formal knowledge in the language while also learning about Brazilian society and culture.
What we liked about Preply
Preply is a convenient and overall well-designed platform. We’ve listed a few of our favorite features in the paragraphs below.
Preply has high quality tutors
We were easily able to find two language tutors on Preply; one for Russian and one for Brazilian Portuguese. Both tutors were really, really good – better than what we’ve come to expect with tutors on other similar platforms.
This could be because Preply has a more rigorous tutor screening process – their tutor approval team reads applicants’ bios and watches their videos to make sure only qualified tutors are approved.
Plenty of helpful tools
In addition to competent and professional tutors, Preply also offers learners a well-designed internal student dashboard that serves to enhance the learning experience outside of the classroom.
The Learn dashboard
Preply’s “Learn” dashboard makes organizing lessons and keeping track of study material super easy. From one page, you can see all your upcoming lessons and view any notes or files your teacher has sent over. Our Russian tutor sends us a doc after each lesson with all of the new words we learned (or the phrases we had trouble with or mispronounced).
From the Learn dashboard we’re able to see all of the files in one place, efficiently organized by the date they were sent to us. Preply’s Learn dashboard is simple yet extremely helpful for keeping learners organized and on track to reach their learning goals.
The My lessons dashboard
From the “My lessons” page you can see a detailed overview of your lesson progress (i.e. how many lessons you’ve completed each week in recent months) as well as a schedule (list or calendar view) of upcoming lessons.
The My lessons page makes it really easy to keep track of your upcoming lessons, especially if you are learning multiple languages or if you have multiple tutors.
Additionally, Preply can sync with your Google Calendar – each event including links to join the lesson or manage your lessons.
Preply keeps track of your speaking time
Preply has a really cool feature that tracks how much time the student speaks in a class compared to the tutor. Toward the end of the lesson, Preply will show you a popup notification which tells you how many minutes you spoke during the lesson.
This is such a helpful feature to have available for learners, both for monitoring how much you’re getting out of the class but also for tracking your study progress.
What we didn’t like about Preply
Overall we really liked using Preply, but there are a handful of noteworthy annoyances which detract from the learning experience.
Not flexible with booking hours
The biggest inconvenience we faced on Preply was the minimum order requirement when purchasing tutoring hours. Preply doesn’t let you purchase lessons based on how many you need; users are required to purchase lesson hours in packages of 6, 12, 20 or 40. That means the minimum you can pay at one time to schedule lessons is about $100 (6 lessons of about $15).
Preply’s minimum order quantity is especially inconvenient for users learning a language with multiple tutors, or learning multiple languages. When you order a lesson package, for example 6 hours, those lessons are specifically designated for one tutor; you cannot divide a 6-hour package among two tutors. You have the option to transfer your hour credits to another tutor, however your only option is to transfer all of them.
Additionally, transferring credit hours between tutors doesn’t account for price differences. We currently have 3 credit hours available for our Russian tutor (who charges $15/hour). If we wanted to transfer those to our Portuguese tutor (who charges $16/hour) they would convert to 2 hours and 48 minutes. Would we be expected to purchase a 48-minute lesson to use up our remaining balance?
Preply’s entire purchase flow of buying and paying for credit hours feels poorly designed and results in a convoluted, inconvenient user experience. We really hope that Preply invests in improving their purchase flow as it would make the platform significantly easier to use.
Preply’s website feels outdated and difficult to navigate
Preply’s website feels outdated and pages tend to load quite slowly. For example, navigating from the “Messages” tab to the “My lessons” takes five or six seconds to load (we tried on multiple different devices and networks).
Additionally, a number of smaller features on the website feel complicated and hard to navigate. For example, finding the correct time zone is a nuisance since the times are listed in a “Continent/City” format in GMT – and out of numerical order! Asia/Manila GMT +8:00 and Asia/Muscat GMT +4:00 are listed right next to each other, despite being four hours apart.
Scheduling lessons is also a bit of a pain, since Preply defaults to scheduling “Regular” (same time every week) lessons. The first time we scheduled a lesson pack we accidentally scheduled lessons every Monday for the rest of the month – we had to go and individually cancel the three we did not intend to schedule.
We understand that Preply wants users to schedule lessons regularly with their tutors – we too want to book lessons regularly – but the same time every week doesn’t work for our schedule. Remembering to manually select “Single” every time we book a lesson is rather annoying.
Online language lessons vs. in-person language classes – which is better?
The question of online lessons versus in-person classes is a common debate among language learners. Some learners prefer the convenience of private, one-on-one lessons via video call while others prefer to learn in a group of other learners in a classroom setting.
We have quite a bit of experience in both environments. In addition to high school and college level language courses, we also completed in-person classes overseas – a German class in Vienna and a Chinese class in Taipei. As for online lessons, we’ve completed hundreds of private lessons for a handful of languages – Swedish, German, Spanish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian and French. Based on our experience we can attest that private, online lessons provide an all-around better learning experience:
- Quality: In a one-to-one setting, your tutor can cater the lesson material directly to your proficiency level, needs and goals. In person classes have much less flexibility and your teacher has to divide their attention among a large group. Our German class in Vienna focused on grammatical topics important for a language certification test but not useful for every day speech. We found our one-to-one German lessons over Skype to be a much better use of our time.
- Cost: Online lessons are generally cheaper than in-person classes. In general, you can pay $15-20 per hour for private, one-to-one lessons. At one point we paid $8 per hour for lessons with a Dutch nomad living in rural Brazil.
- Convenience: It might be really hard to find in-person classes for some languages and the commute to and from will waste valuable time. Signing onto a video call with your tutor is significantly more efficient. Plus, you can find tutors that are available at the times most convenient for you. We used to take Chinese lessons every Tuesday and Thursday at 7:00am before work – in the comfort of our living room with a cup of coffee.
The bottom line – is Preply worth your time?
Can you learn a language online with a Preply tutor? Is Preply worth the time and cost? The short answer is: yes, absolutely, but it depends on how much effort you are willing to invest.
One of the most important parts of a well-balanced language study routine is regular speaking practice. If you don’t live overseas or have access to native speakers, online tutoring with Preply can be a perfect way to practice speaking. As with any language learning method or platform, your success largely depends on how frequently you study and how much effort you put into your learning.
If you’re interested in studying a foreign language with a private tutor via video call, Preply is a great tool to use. Preply offers a plethora of vetted, well-qualified tutors offering lessons in hundreds of different skills. The lessons tend to be much more affordable and convenient than in-person classes and Preply’s platform makes it easy to keep track of your learning materials and progress.
If you’re new to the idea of taking lessons with a tutor over video call, we’d recommend visiting the Preply website and completing a trial lesson to see if it’s a good fit for you.