Preply Review – Good for Students? Good for Tutors?
Learning online is a big business in 2020, especially with the impact of the Coronavirus keeping a lot of us at home in lockdown.
To meet demand there are many online learning platforms available. However, knowing which to choose can be difficult.
Learning a new subject is both an investment in time and money. You do not want to waste either of these by opting for the wrong course, teacher, or learning platform.
On the flip side of this proverbial coin is the teacher’s perspective. For those with the right qualifications, they offer a way to make money online, from home. Again, in the midst of the current pandemic, this is something that a lot of people are looking for.
So, with all that in mind, is Preply worthy of your consideration?
That’s exactly what we look into today. Whether you are a potential student aiming to learn new skills, or a tutor that would like to earn some extra money, we will lift the lid of this popular learning platform to see exactly what it has to offer.
A Brief Overview of Preply’s Services
Preply is an online education platform that allows approved teachers to provide private tutoring to students. This tutoring is done remotely through an online chat delivered via a video call powered by Skype.
Pairing Student to Tutor
In this platform, students are paired with private tutors, and this pairing is done by a ranking algorithm. This algorithm uses machine learning to classify tutors based on their subjects of expertise, as well as ranking them based on their experience and expertise in teaching students these subjects.
Likewise, this algorithm allows Preply to provide the most fitting results on its SERP page for each search query made by a student.
Lessons delivered online
It is a complete education platform that features both educational and technological layers, with tutors using their experience and knowledge to create lessons that are delivered through an ICT-based cloud infrastructure to PCs being used by students.
This allows for real-time learning. Nonetheless, the Skype-based video system of Preply can benefit from the integration of additional interactive features that allow for the delivery of more interactive lessons.
Preply Enterprise program
There is also the Preply Enterprise program that allows an organization to pay and organize for its employees to get language training from approved online tutors.
This program comes with dedicated customer support, flexible tutoring plans, analytics, and an insight dashboard for evaluating the progress of employees in terms of the acquisition of corporate language skills.
Payment & Payouts
For a tutor who signs up with Preply, (s)he is provided with an internal account for depositing funds. The tutor is allowed to withdraw the accumulated funds at any time through PayPal, Payoneer, or Skrill.
Relatedly, Preply allows the student to book an hour-long trial class that allows him/her to assess whether the tutor is a perfect fit for his/her learning needs.
If the tutor is a perfect fit, the student then chooses one of the four tutoring (or lesson) packages – the 5-hour, 10-hour, 15-hour, and 20-hour packages.
Brief History of Preply
Preply was started on November 1, 2012, in Ukraine by Kirill Bigai, Serge Lukianov, and Dmytro Voloshyn.
It debuted as an online marketplace where private tutors could provide online tutoring to students who were preparing for SAT and ACT college admission exams, both of which are accepted as valid tests of academic competence for students intending to join US colleges.
Basically, both SAT and ACT results are used by US colleges to determine whether students can enroll into courses offered in these colleges.
Relatedly, its website that provided the online platform debuted in November 2012 as Preply.com. In the same year, it received angel funding worth US$180,000 from investors including Semyon Dukach.
In its initial months of operation, it reached a milestone of 10,000 study hours being delivered through its platform.
Later in April 2013, it launched a language tutoring platform, and it gained a large audience (or client base) that allowed it to expand its market into Russia, Poland, Belarus, and Kazakhstan.
In 2015, it received additional funding of US$120,000 from TechStars, a US-based seed accelerator. In 2016, it attracted another round of investment – this time amounting to US$1,300,000 – that allowed it to enter into the Brazilian market.
In June the same year, it entered the German, British, and Spanish markets. In 2018, it attracted investment funding worth US$4,000,000.
Preply is currently owned by Preply Inc., which has an office at 1371 Beacon Street in Brookline, Massachusetts.
Online Learning Platform
As mentioned, this online education platform was initially developed to cater to language education, which allowed students to learn foreign languages.
As expected, it provided an inter-country connection between students and tutors who lived in different nations, as preference in language learning is that the student is taught by a native language speaker, who usually lives in the nation speaking that native language as the first language.
For example (e.g), British English is best taught by an English tutor living in the United Kingdom rather than the United States of America because American and British English do differ sometimes in their choice of words to describe the same object (e.g cab in US and taxi in the UK) and spellings of the same word (e.g colour in UK and color in the US).
Its language training classes allow the approved tutors to help students acquire language skills and verbal proficiency that enables them (students) to communicate effectively in both casual and professional settings.
These language classes also help students to ace language tests including TOEFL, BEC, FCE, IELTS, HSK, DELE, DELF, GMAT, DALF, and TestDaF.
Other subjects were later added to the platform as teachers of these subjects signed up. Among these additional subjects are math, chemistry, and biology.
Preply provides customer support services to both students and tutors, and this enables both categories of users to easily use the platform for learning and tutoring respectively.
Customer support is provided through an online chat, and corporate clients, are assigned a dedicated support team to address their concerns and help resolve any issue.
- Related Content: The Best Hadoop Training Online in 2020 – TOP 5 COURSES
Preply supports corporate language training through its Preply Enterprise program. This program allows an organization to pay and organize for its employees to get language training from online tutors approved by Preply.
Among the corporate clients who have used this Preply Enterprise program are Volkswagen Financial Services, Fivetran, and Toyota Tsusho.
The company is allowed to customize its Preply plan by choosing the size of the team (made up of employees who become the students) to be trained and setting their learning schedule.
The team can be as small as 5 employees/students or large with more than 200 employees.
Also, the company can select the tutors to provide the training and require each tutor to provide a tailored methodology for training its employees.
Likewise, tutors can be asked to set goals that are designed to help the students (i.e employees) learn basic to advanced business language.
Likewise, Preply provides for continuous progress tracking, along with placement tests for evaluating corporate language proficiency.
This allows the company to monitor the progress of the corporate language training in terms of how its employees are acquiring the requisite language skills. This progress evaluation also allows the employees to test their pronunciation and speaking skills.
Preply – For the Student
Preply is set up for the student in a way that is very simple to use. After signing up (name, email address, and telephone number – no credit card details required at this stage), you can head straight to the home screen of the Preply website and choose the subject you are interested in.
You then view a list of tutors available to teach that subject, schedule a one-hour free lesson with your tutor of choice. Should the match be good, you then continue to use them for your learning at a pace that suits your time and budget.
Here’s that process in a bit more detail…
Choose a subject
There are a huge number of subjects that can be studied with a private tutor using Preply. As the company offered language tuition when it first started, this is what it is predominantly known for, (with the languages selection taking up a large portion of the subject search screen).
However, a search within the “What do you want to learn?” tab, will provide you with a long list of available options.
Furthermore, for each subject, Preply lists the number of available tutors. For example, at the time of writing, there are 1321 tutors available to teach you Mandarin.
Choosing a tutor
Each tutor creates a profile that can be read by the student before any lessons are scheduled.
This profile lists the tutor’s areas of expertise and teaching style, and experience, as well as how much (s)he charges per hour of teaching (his/her hourly rate).
There is also a review section where previous students have left feedback on the tutor. One can read these reviews so as to judge the suitability of the tutor to meet his/her learning needs.
An accompanying verification video clip also called the introduction clip, where the tutor describes himself/herself and his/her teaching schedules, is extremely helpful.
It allows prospective students to have some knowledge about the tutor before making a commitment to learning from them.
Likewise, Preply includes the number of students currently being taught by the tutor, as well as indicates whether the language tutor is a native language speaker or not.
Also indicated in the tutor’s profile is the number of lessons taught by the tutor. This allows the prospective student to know whether the tutor has had success training people through Preply, and this judgment call can be made easily by checking the statistics of the tutor.
A tutor with a large number of completed lessons and many active students reveals that this tutor is a professional teacher and is able to deliver on his/her promises as it pertains to learning goals.
- Related Content: Best Online Project Management Certificate Programs [2020 Update]
Schedule a Trial Lesson
Scheduling a trial lesson couldn’t be easier. As you scroll through available tutors an availability calendar is just one click away. From there, you can select a time that suits you (assuming the teacher hasn’t already blocked it off) for your free hour.
The availability calendar automatically sets itself to display times in your local timezone. However, it is worth remembering that your chosen tutor will likely be within a workable time zone in relation to yours.
Unless the tutor is a night owl, they will have blocked off availability during the normal sleeping hours wherever they may live.
For this reason, Preply has a feature so that you can also sort potential tutors based on their location.
After booking an hour-long trial class that allows him/her to assess whether the tutor is a perfect fit for his/her learning needs.
If the tutor is a perfect fit, the student then chooses one of the four tutoring packages and pays for it via the payment processing platform integrated into Preply.
The tutoring package, also called the lesson package, is based on learning hours, and there are 4 packages – the 5-hour, 10-hour, 15-hour, and 20-hour packages.
The price of these packages varies based on the hourly rate charged by your chosen tutor.
Also, Preply comes with an internal messaging system that allows the student to contact his/her tutor, and for the two of them to exchange private messages.
Even so, this messaging system blocks the sharing of contact details between a prospective student and an approved tutor if the student has not paid for the first lesson. This also prevents parties from trying to negotiate lessons outside the Preply learning platform
Taking the Online video classes
Relatedly, the video call is done through Skype. As mentioned, the video call is time-limited, usually set to one hour, though this can be extended or reduced by the tutor.
In other words, the tutor sets the duration of the online video class lesson depending on the needs and requests of the student.
Usually, the tutor has already prepared materials for the lesson, which are shared with the student during the lesson.
The refund policy of Preply allows the student to request a refund if (s)he is dissatisfied with the lesson.
Preply – For the Tutor
Preply allows freelance tutors to gain a platform to monetize their skills. It also gives the tutors a degree of freedom in setting their hourly pay.
In the platform, the price per lesson is fixed by the tutor as the hourly rate.
This rate is ascertained based on the teaching experience and level of education/training of the tutor, as well as the language pair (are both the tutor and student native language speakers, or is the teacher only the native language speaker?).
As expected, there is a wide range of hourly rates in Preply as tutors exercise their privileged independence in price-fixing to set their own rates.
Preply allows the tutor to coordinate the lessons with the student, and make the learning as cost-effective as possible for both parties.
In the dashboard of the tutor, there is a tab called My Lessons, and it shows the number of hours each student has paid for. It allows the tutor to organize with the student on how to deliver the lessons within a specified timeframe.
Another interesting feature of Preply is its Find Students section that allows tutors to view offers published by students.
If the tutor judges that (s)he is fit for the offer, (s)he can send a message to the student.
Even so, for one to enjoy these aforementioned benefits as a tutor, one must first be approved to work on Preply.
Getting approved to Teach on Preply
Professional Qualifications in the relevant subject
First and foremost, you need to be able to show relevant experience in the subject area you are teaching. This often means professional qualifications and work experience.
Technical Requirements for Teaching on Preply
Any online learning platform will have a minimum set of technical requirements in order for you to teach using that platform.
This stands to reason, as low internet speeds or a poor quality camera will not provide the learning experience that the student rightly expects.
- Related Content: UNI-Prep Institute Review: A Good Choice for TEFL & TESOL Training?
Tutor Application Process
To be allowed to work as a tutor in Preply, one must sign up and be approved by a team that approves tutors. The process for one to join Preply as a tutor is relatively simple.
Commissions and Payment
As mentioned, the tutor sets the hourly rate, and Preply charges a commission on this rate. Even so, the tutor must keep in mind the fact that the first lesson taught to a new student is unpaid, and Preply takes the money the student paid for this lesson.
This first lesson is known as the trial lesson, which the tutor must offer before the student commits to purchasing a tutoring package for this tutor.
About commissions charged by Preply, a tiered system is used to determine the commission percentage, with this system being incentivized for successful tutors who offer lots of lessons through Preply.
The commissions are charged based on the number of hours the tutor has taught through Preply, with the initial hours being charged at 33%, and once the tutor hits the 400-hour milestone, the commission rate falls to 18%.
Preply allows the tutor to withdraw the payments made by students to his/her account using one of 3 withdrawal platforms – PayPal, Payoneer, and Skrill. Withdrawal can be done at any time.
- Related Content: What is the Best AWS Online Training in 2020 (TOP 5 COURSES)
Some Guidelines for the Tutor
Sometimes, the tutor or student may miss a lesson. If this happens, the tutor must report it immediately. Also, if the tutor wants to cancel or reschedule a lesson, (s)he must give his/her student a notice at least 4 hours before the lesson.
Otherwise, the tutor is liable to a penalty, which can include reducing tutor rating, decrease in SERP rank, or even suspension from the platform. The tutor is also liable to be banned from the platform if (s)he tries to solicit the student to send payments outside the Preply platform.
Relatedly, if the tutor is unable to take new students or communicate with prospective students, (s)he can use the hide profile function to instruct the Preply algorithm not to display his/her profile in SERP pages.
Failure to do this and failing to respond to messages sent by prospective students can lead to the deactivation of the tutor profile.