One of the best ways to practice speaking a foreign language is to have conversations with native speakers of the language. The two most popular platforms to connect with native speakers are italki and Verbling. Let’s take a look at Verbling vs italki to see which platform is best for you.
It should be noted that Verbling and italki are very similar platforms, and while they may technically be in competition with each other, it may be best practice for language learners to take advantage of both platforms.
Because as we’ll discover as we compare Verbling vs italki, it’s not so much the platform that matters as the teachers who use the platforms.
Verbling vs italki: teaching experience
Each company has different experience requirements for language teachers who are interested in using their platform to find students. This can also be evident in the student’s search for a teacher.
The most popular option, italki, lets you choose between professional and community teachers. The difference is that a professional teacher has some sort of official qualifications or certifications to teach; community teachers are just native or advanced speakers of the language.
On the other hand, Verbling requires potential teachers to have professional experience. If you’re using Verbling, you’re there to learn, not just to practice.
Is professional experience necessary? If you want the structured approach of a teacher, yes; however, if you just want to pay a native/advanced speaker to be available and help you focus on communication, not necessarily.
And of course, community teachers are much cheaper. Professional experience comes at a premium. It’s up to you to decide if professional experience is a priority, and this will help you decide on which platform to prioritize.
italki vs Verbling: trial lessons
Taking a language lesson for the first time can be a daunting experience, especially when you’re meeting the teacher for the first time, and you’re not quite sure what the atmosphere will be like.
Fortunately, both Verbling and italki offer a version of trial lessons. The approach, of course, is different.
First, italki offers 3 free trial lessons ever. These are tied to your account and must be applied to 3 different teachers if you use them. Not all italki teachers offer free trial lessons, so I’m guessing it’s truly free, which means that the teachers are not paid at all (italki does not pay for these lessons for you).
Verbling is a lot less strict and gives its teachers 100% say in their own trial lessons.
If a Verbling teacher decides to offer a trial lesson, they set the price. With this system, each new student gets to trial the teaching style of any teacher.
Plus, Verbling teachers are paid for their trial lessons. It’s half the time of a full lesson, so they can charge half the price. This is compared to italki, which expects its teachers to offer them for free.
In this way, Verbling is a much better option, both for language learners (who get to trial as many teachers as they like) and for language teachers (who get paid for their time, regardless of how much time they’re spending).
Both Verbling and italki specialize in private language classes, which means 1-on-1. You’re paying someone to focus on your language learning. There is a little bit of wiggle room, though.
For even more ease of commitment (more on this later), some Verbling teachers offer bulk lessons; if you commit to a number of lessons (5, 10, 20, whatever), you get a small discount.
On the other hand, italki has a small collection of group lessons.
On italki, this is definitely not the star of the show. It simply does not compare to a service like Lingoda that truly excels at this. Based only on first impression, it seems to be a low-stakes way to find your next language teacher.
Though, at the time of this writing, this feature isn’t available in most languages. As I said, it seems to be an option to support more private classes, by making them slightly more accessible to start, as opposed to a formal feature.
Booking a class on Verbling vs italki
The process of booking a language teacher differs between platforms, and this is more important than you may think.
Emotionally, it can be difficult to commit to a lesson with a language teacher. It’s not uncommon to be self-conscious about your ability to have foreign language conversations, worried about financial commitment, anxious about committing to a routine, etc.
That said, it’s the responsibility of the platform to make it easy for language learners to book a lesson. If it’s too difficult to book, that just becomes another obstacle stopping a language learner from committing.
There’s one tiny difference between Verbling and italki here: where the lesson is hosted. italki allows you 3 options: their own software, Zoom, or Skype.
To be fair, I am 100% nit-picking. But at the same time, I am well aware of how tiny things like this can make it feel impossible to do things like schedule a lesson with a language teacher, which can be hard enough as it is.
italki offers 3 different platforms (which I’m assuming invites some technical difficulties when it comes to sharing usernames, Zoom/Skype outages, etc.), while Verbling only uses their own software.
Verbling keeps it simpler. When it’s time for your lesson, all you have to do is go to the website and there will be a link for you to join the classroom, right there on Verbling.
Obviously, I can’t say how reliable it is – that’s something to ask your language teacher with much more experience with the tech than I’ll ever have. But from the perspective of a language learner, this is a much better system.
Which platform is best?
While most online creators will mention italki, I personally find Verbling to be just slightly higher quality for language learners: higher quality teachers, easier to book lessons, and easier to join.
Above all else, as I mentioned at the beginning of this review, is that specific teachers on each platform. While looking for a language teacher, the website they’re on isn’t as important as the teachers themselves, so I encourage you to keep an open mind.
Want to learn more about each platform?