In the language learning community, there are two well-known and well-trusted ways to practice having conversations with native speakers: italki and Verbling. They have their similarities and differences (as noted in my Verbling vs italki review), but now let’s focus on this Verbling review.
In this Verbling review, I’ll take you step-by-step through going to the Verbling website for the first time, all the way through your first lesson, pros and cons, and alternatives to Verbling for all your language learning needs.
Verbling review: find a private language teacher
Starting from the “Find a Teacher” button right next to the italki logo, you’ll find yourself confronted with a huge list of people who teach your target language, as well as a few options to narrow down your search.
As you can see, Verbling keeps the search criteria pretty simple: language, location (important because you may be more confident with certain accents), any particular goals you have, and availability.
In the past, Verbling used to allow you to search by gender, which was a huge plus for me. They seem to have removed this option, though.
After applying your preferred search, click through to any of the Verbling teachers that stand out to you. And if none stand out to you, pick one at random! You can learn about any teacher you like, including listening to their voice/accent, and hopefully getting to know them a little bit before booking a lesson.
You’ll find tons of information on the Verbling teacher you chose, like their resume, how long they’ve been on Verbling, how many lessons their average students take with them, detailed reviews, any articles they’ve written, and more.
It can be a lot to take in, but you only need to take what’s most important to you. The idea is to give you an opportunity for an educated choice before you spend your time/money on your first lesson, even if you opt for a discounted trial lesson.
Once you make your choice, you’re just 2 clicks away from your first Verbling lesson. They don’t make it difficult, which is helpful. I definitely understand the pressure of hitting that “buy now” button, so I appreciate how easy it is to get started.
Once you complete your trial lesson (or even before), you can also opt for bulk lessons with that teacher at a slight discount. This is a plus not only for convenience but also for accountability – you’re more likely to consistently practice if you’ve already bought the lessons.
It’s worth noting that the discount you get with bulk lessons differs from teacher to teacher (and not all Verbling teachers offer lessons in bulk) so don’t make any assumptions based on this Verbling review. However, this is a feature unique to Verbling.
What Verbling classes are like
If you’ve never taken an online class with a private language tutor, you can expect your language teacher to start a conversation with you by asking some getting-to-know-you questions.
This will likely be primarily over video chat, with the added perk of using the chat box to help with spelling or vocabulary. If your Verbling teacher has an activity for you, they’ll probably share their screen, like any Zoom call you’ve been in.
However, Verbling language lessons do not occur over Zoom or even Skype – they use Verbling’s own proprietary software and that’s it. This does make things easy when it’s time for your lesson because all you have to do with click a button and be connected.
Then, once your lesson’s finished, Verbling will email you summarizing your lesson. This summary can help you keep a record of when/how often you’re practicing, with whom, the vocabulary you referenced, and your conversation. If you really like your teacher, you can also go ahead and book another lesson right from this summary.
The Verbling community
If you’ve got a few minutes to spare, you can also check out Verbling’s Community tab. You may be able to find an interesting article or a future Verbling teacher you may like, but it’s definitely not Verbling’s strongest suit.
Honestly, it seems more like a side project than a full-blown feature.
If your teacher referenced an article they wrote or a discussion thread they started, you can also click on the My Teachers tab and easily find any of the content they posted. Or, if you’re just browsing around the Trending tab, and you find an article that you’re interested in or have a question regarding, each article links to the teacher who posted it, so it’s easy to send them a message asking for clarification, or (better yet) book a lesson to chat about it in the language you’re learning.
This option is definitely helpful for coming up with material to talk about in your lessons, as your teacher will probably ask you what you want to talk about after you’ve had your initial “getting to know you” lesson.
It can be tough to come up with good material for yourself, especially when your new language teacher doesn’t know you well enough just yet to recommend study material that will be engaging to you. Think of this section as Verbling’s library.
While Verbling (now a part of Busuu/Chegg) isn’t as popular or well-rounded as italki, this Verbling review shows that it’s still a great option for language learners who want focused conversational practice with professional native speakers.
There are a few key differences, as noted in my italki vs Verbling comparison review, but the most significant thing to know is that the value and experience you get from either platform depends not on the platform itself, but on the teachers you work with.
My recommendation? If you are looking for conversational practice with professional, experienced native speakers, Verbling is an excellent place to start.
You can also look for non-professional native speakers (so basically a glorified Tandem or HelloTalk language exchange) on italki, but regardless of your choice, don’t be afraid to shop around for a private language teacher on Verbling!