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Have you ever wished that you had an easy way to practise English conversation with native speakers?
Or maybe you wish you had your own private teacher to point out your mistakes and help you improve.
You can easily do these things online, and it may be cheaper than you think!
Note: This is one of a series of four articles reviewing online English tutoring websites. If you find this article useful, you may want to read the others: A Review of Preply, A Review of italki, A Review of Cambly.
Want to compare these websites side by side? Here's our review of italki vs. Preply vs. Cambly vs. Verbling: The Battle Of The English Tutoring Websites.
Verbling’s website can be found at www.verbling.com. Let’s see how easy it is to get started. If you like, you can open the site in your browser and follow along with this article.
If you don’t have an account yet, the first thing you will see on verbling.com is the welcome page.
You will notice the Try free lesson button. You can click this button to view teachers and browse the site even if you do not have an account - some sites, like Cambly, require you to start an account before you do this. But you will need to start an account to claim your free lesson.
Let’s click the Signup button in the top right corner and start an account. You will see this form:
Note the checkbox next to the text Sign me up for Verbling updates, exclusive offers and learning tips! Make sure you do NOT tick this box if you do not wish your email account to be full of messages from Verbling.
I received emails like the following one:
Perhaps you might find these messages useful, but remember the real goal of the message is to get you to sign up to Verbling and spend money.
You can use the site immediately to browse teacher profiles and view their video introductions. You do not need to give a credit card number or click a link in a verification email.
First impressions of Verbling
My first impression of Verbling is positive. I see a list of teachers and I see search filters to help me find the best one for me.
If you have used other tutoring sites, such as italki, you will notice many of the same features. For example, all of these sites have video introductions for the tutors.
The site even looks like italki. It has a similar layout and similar search filters.
However, Verbling has a ‘cleaner’, more professional, look. There are fewer things to click on, so that you can focus on choosing a tutor. After all, that is what you’re here for.
Setting the user language and currency
At this point, it might be helpful to set your language and currency.
This will help you to browse the site in your own language, which is helpful if you have only beginner-level English.
Viewing the prices in your own currency can help you to see how much you will be spending, without converting prices.
You will find this feature at the bottom of the page. Scroll all the way down:
Other languages and skills
We want to find an English tutor, but let’s pause for a moment and see what else Verbling offers. Click on the first filter in the top left of the main page.
You will see that Verbling offers 88 languages. In fact, looking through the list, I can see lots of very uncommon languages, such as Berber and Igbo.
I found tutors for each language I clicked on, even the uncommon ones. (Some tutoring websites list over a hundred languages, but do not actually have tutors for them.)
If you wish to learn more than one language, Verbling could be a good option for you. You could even try a new language just for fun, or if you are planning to travel to that country.
Searching for a Verbling tutor
How many English tutors are on Verbling?
Verbling has over 10,000 English teachers. With this number available, you should certainly find a good one!
Using Verbling’s search features and filters
We don’t want to search through 10,000 teacher profiles. Luckily, we can use the search filters to help us find a suitable one.
You will see these near the top of the main page:
Click on the Availability button to set a time:
Next, click From:
This allows you to choose which country your tutor comes from. You can select more than one.
When you choose a country, think about whether you wish to learn American English or British English. Alternatively, you may prefer a tutor from your own country.
If price is an issue, you may find lower priced teachers from countries such as the Philippines or India. English is used a lot in these countries, but it is not considered a “native language”.
I chose Australia and New Zealand.
This gave me a list of 20 teachers from Australia or New Zealand.
With 10,000 teachers available, I was expecting more, but 20 is a good number to work with. It is a small enough number that I can browse each profile and choose four or five to try out.
The next button allows us to choose which language the teacher speaks (apart from English).
Why would you want to use this feature?
If your English level is low, you may feel more comfortable working with a person who speaks your mother tongue. If you get stuck in English, they can explain it in your own language.
However, as an English teacher myself, I have been trained to teach absolute beginners. A good English tutor knows techniques to teach any level of student.
Plus, if you are able to read this article then your English level isn’t low, so you should be absolutely fine.
There is another reason to use this feature. If you speak Spanish, for example, you may make the typical mistakes that a Spanish speaker makes when learning English (such as adding an ‘e’ sound before an ‘s’ so that “special” sounds like “especial”).
A teacher who speaks Spanish may already be familiar with these mistakes.
I chose Spanish and this still gives me a choice of 10 teachers from Australia and New Zealand.
How much does Verbling cost?
As in any market, the best and most experienced teachers can charge more. Teachers with less experience and qualifications charge less.
However, keep in mind that teachers who are new to Verbling will also set their rates low in order to find their first students and get good ratings. So, looking for experienced teachers who are new to Verbling can be a way to find a good deal.
The next box allows you to set the price. As you can see, the range is $5 to over $75 per hour.
I was not able to find an Australian teacher for $5. The lowest-priced Australian teachers were $10 per hour.
In fact, I couldn’t find any English teachers for $5 per hour. The lowest-priced was an American teacher who charges $7 per hour.
This is still below the minimum wage in the United States – you could earn more working in a fast-food restaurant. Perhaps teachers who charge these low rates are retired and teaching for fun. Whatever their reason, it is certainly a good price if they are qualified and experienced like Jerry Doran (see below).
At the top of the range were two teachers charging $99 and $100 per hour:
It is important to note that the cheapest teachers may not be the best option.
Why do they charge low rates? Is it because they are just starting out? Are they retired and just teaching for fun? Or do they lack confidence in their teaching?
On the other hand, the most expensive teachers may also not be the best. $100 per hour is a lot of money to charge for a lesson. Is this teacher really so much better than the others?
Choose these teachers only if they offer something specific that you need, such as accent reduction training. Of course, you should also only choose them if you have plenty of money!
With such a large range of prices, you will need to choose your budget carefully. You should be able to find a great teacher in the range of $20-$40.
Can I take a free trial class with Verbling?
There is a Book Free Trial button on every teacher’s profile.
By clicking this, you will get a 30-minute free lesson. Note that not every teacher offers this, but most teachers do. (Note that the teacher above charging $100 per hour does not.)
After your free trial, any further trial lessons will cost $6. You can have one trial per teacher.
Also, note that you do need to give your credit card details for a free trial lesson.
Of all the tutoring websites we have reviewed, Verbling is the only one to offer a completely free trial lesson. Further trials for only $6 make this an even stronger advantage.
If you plan to try multiple teachers before deciding on one, this makes Verbling an excellent choice for you.
Other search filters
The next button simply says Filters.
If you click on this button, you can specify the following:
- test preparation
There are 28 tests on the list, including IELTS and TOEFL.
The subjects include things like accent reduction, interview preparation and phonetics. This filter will be extremely useful if you need English for a specific purpose.
Many subjects are business-related, so if you are learning English for business, be sure to check the list of subjects available.
Can I take a lesson right now?
The last search feature we will look at is this box:
Tick this box to find teachers that are online right now.
I clicked this box to find six Australian teachers online who could also speak Spanish.
However, when I checked more closely, only one of them was online and free and he was only available for lessons the next day.
I messaged one of the other teachers, and he explained that he was online, but was teaching for the next several hours.
How to choose a Verbling teacher
Once you have used the filters, you can browse through your shortened list of profiles.
Each teacher’s profile is shown on a ‘card’ like the one below.
From the profile card, you can see the following useful information:
- their name
- their rating
- where they are from
- how much they charge
- whether they offer a free trial
- what other languages they speak
- how many lessons they have done
- a short bio
If you are using a laptop, move your mouse over the profile to watch the teacher’s introductory video:
Heath has a great video – he speaks clearly, he’s friendly and he talks about how he loves teaching English. I would feel comfortable choosing him as a teacher.
When selecting a teacher, there is one feature which you may miss. You can click on the teacher’s name to get even more details about the teacher:
This will bring you to a page with the teacher’s full details. On this page, you will find:
- the teacher’s full bio
- the teacher’s work experience
- the teacher’s qualifications
- reviews by the teacher’s students
- the teacher’s schedule
- statistics on the teacher’s work on Verbling
This page contains the most useful information for you to choose a teacher. For example, if the teacher has many five-star reviews, it means they have many happy students.
I also found a coupon on this page:
It’s worth googling around, as it seems like Verbling often offers coupons to entice people to take their first class.
Are Verbling teachers all really proficient in English?
In short, yes.
Some tutoring websites offer teachers who claim to be native speakers, but are not. Others claim to be proficient in English, but make basic grammar errors.
Fortunately, Verbling teachers are all proficient in English, as far as I can see. All of the teachers I saw were either native speakers of English or “near-native”. None of them had heavy accents or made grammar mistakes.
This makes Verbling a great choice if you are specifically searching for native speakers to have conversations with.
Are all Verbling tutors professional teachers?
Although Verbling does not promise professional teachers, their website constantly talks about the high quality of their tutors. For example:
If we read their statement carefully, it tells us that the tutors may not be professional teachers, but they all have teaching experience. Moreover, they have all been vetted (vetted = checked carefully for quality) and Verbling considers them to be expert tutors.
If you want to ensure that your tutor is a professional teacher, remember to click on their name and check their profile:
You should also look for the blue checkmark next to their name. This means that Verbling has verified the teacher’s qualifications.
I am an English teacher myself and I could easily see that Verbling’s teachers are of a consistently high standard.
Of course, this is just my opinion, but Verbling has received excellent reviews on sites like Trustpilot.
Finalising your choice of teacher
With all of this information available, what is the best way to choose a teacher to use long term?
I suggest the following strategy:
- Set a budget and search for teachers within this budget.
- Narrow your search by choosing teachers from a particular country.
- Narrow your search again by selecting the subject you wish to study (Business English, IELTS etc.).
- 4 Look at the top profiles to check whether they have good ratings, qualifications and experience.
- Check their statistics. The below teacher gives 22.6 lessons on average per student, meaning she has many repeat students. On other sites we reviewed, it was uncommon to see even 5 lessons on average per student, so this is a good sign. All other statistics are positive.
- Choose three of the top teachers and book trial lessons.
- After your trial lessons, choose a teacher to learn with over the long term. You get a discount if you book five or more lessons in advance.
How do the lessons work?
Lessons are delivered using Verbling’s video-sharing platform. You can log in with any of the main browsers. You could also log in with a phone or tablet.
Verbling allows you to see and speak to your teacher and send text messages. You can share your screen and your teacher can share their screen.
The teaching materials are provided by the tutor, so every lesson will be different and every teacher will have their own style of conducting the lesson. They may spend most of the time conversing with you, or they may go through notes or slides to explain a grammar point.
Remember that you are paying for the lesson, so you can choose what exactly to do. You can ask for more speaking practice or you can ask for feedback on your grammar mistakes.
How do you pay?
You pay when booking a lesson:
As you can see, you can pay for one hour at a time. There is no choice to pay for half an hour. You can book 5, 10 or 20 lessons in advance at a small discount.
The payment methods are credit card or PayPal.
Can you teach on Verbling?
What about teaching your own language on Verbling? It may be a way to earn some extra money. You can apply at https://www.verbling.com/teach.
However, at the time of writing, Verbling is not accepting new teachers for any language:
From a learner’s perspective this is a good sign. It means that you should have a lot of teachers to choose from.
Verbling focuses on keeping their website simple and offering good quality tutors. They do not offer many special features.
However, they do offer some simple community features, which you can access from the menu at the top of the page:
You can click on Discussions to chat in text with other learners and tutors.
The topics cover tips, simple conversations and Verbling features.
Teachers also share videos here:
The articles section contains some great information for English learners. How about this article that teaches the difference between present perfect and past simple?
Remember, you can access the community features without paying anything. For example, you can read the article above without even logging in.
While these are great features, you can easily find these kinds of resources on hundreds of sites on the internet. I would prefer to see structured lessons and exercises.
One more feature to note is Verbling’s enterprise (business) page. This is for companies that wish to sign up their employees for lessons.
You can sign up for an enterprise account at: https://www.verbling.com/enterprise.
What is Verbling missing?
Verbling has almost all the basic features you would expect of a tutoring site.
However, I notice that there is no way to test your level of English in preparation for classes. In fact, when you sign up, Verbling does not even ask you to provide your level.
An English test is helpful, because if your tutor knows your level of English, they can prepare materials for you before the lesson.
A short English placement test could also identify your weak areas. Do you need practice with verb tenses? Are prepositions your weak area?
The bottom line
Verbling is a simple but impressive English tutoring site. It offers access to over 10,000 English tutors from all over the world.
Verbling’s best point is the quality of tutors available. You feel confident that every tutor on Verbling is of a high standard.
The layout of the site is easy to navigate. The pricing is fair; it’s not the cheapest site and it’s not the most expensive.
Verbling also disappoints in some areas. I noticed several technical errors, even after only a short time on the site. Perhaps this was just a bad day for their IT team, and at least their reviews on TrustPilot suggest that this isn’t a recurrent problem.
Verbling vs Other Methods of Learning English
Remember that Verbling is not the only company that offers online language tuition. These companies offer good alternatives:
- italki (Read our detailed review of italki)
- Preply (Read our detailed review of Preply)
- Cambly (Read our detailed review of Cambly)
You should also consider whether the best teachers are online at all.
Although Verbling tutors can choose what they charge, there is a lot of pressure to offer a low rate. This may not be fair to the tutor. (See this video for more on the topic:
Remember, a badly paid or unhappy teacher is not going to put a lot of effort into an online lesson.
Some learners prefer to study without a tutor. Some prefer to learn English in a group with other students.
It is good to keep all options open, including self-study, live classes at a language school and live classes with a personal tutor.
Is Verbling a good choice for you?
Overall, Verbling is a great site with high quality tutors.
Would you feel comfortable sitting at a computer and learning with a tutor from overseas? For some learners, this is an exciting new option. Other learners may prefer a more traditional course at an English school.
Only you know which way is best for you.
However, if you do wish to learn online, Verbling has over 10,000 tutors to choose from. Quality is their hallmark, and their tutors are the best you will find on the tutoring sites we have reviewed.
Want to see how Verbling compares against other English tutoring websites? Here's our guide: italki vs. Preply vs. Cambly vs. Verbling: The Battle Of The English Tutoring Websites