Join us as we dive into this Verbling review and explore an online marketplace of language teachers from across the globe!
What is Verbling?
Verbling is an online tutoring platform that connects language learners to certified language teachers. Everything is self-contained within the platform; from booking and payment to the lessons themselves, it’s a convenient one-stop-shop!
You’ll also be able to connect with other language students in the community section. There are even articles in and about your target language to help take your language journey one step further.
What Can You Do on Verbling?
At its core, Verbling is a marketplace for finding a language teacher. We specifically use the word teacher here and not tutor—because they are teachers. Every instructor goes through a vetting process before they’re allowed to offer their services on Verbling. If they don’t have a certificate or cannot prove their teaching experience, they don’t make the cut!
Teachers are also restricted to teaching only one language—their native language. If they are fluent in other languages they can include that in their application. However, this is only done to illustrate their ability to teach students from a wider variety of backgrounds.
What this means is that you’re guaranteed a professional instructor! Even so, some language teachers’ instruction style may not mesh with your learning style. And that’s okay!
Let’s take a look at how it works.
Finding a Teacher
Finding a teacher on Verbling is easy! Just pick the language that you want to learn, and browse through the available teachers.
Each instructor has a quick-view profile that shows what language they teach, as well as the languages they can speak. This opens the options up to non-English speakers, as many programmes only offer instruction in English.
You can also view the teacher’s full profile, just by clicking on their name. A teacher’s full profile lists their certifications, their schedule, and their reviews. More importantly, the reviews aren’t just written, they’re broken down into specific categories so that you can see what they're particularly good at.
Do you need a teacher who can help you prepare for fluency exams like the JLPT or the TOPIK? Or are you looking for a teacher that can focus on business or medical terms? Are you more focused on written exercises or verbal ones? Are you looking for a teacher that’s good with kids?
The reviews category covers all of this and more. That way you can easily find the teacher that best fits your needs.
Each teach also records a short video for their profile which includes an overview of their experience and qualifications. Some teachers even use it to give you a sample of what their lessons might look like. It’s worth taking a look at several teachers before settling on one.
Booking a Lesson
When you decide which teacher you’d like to book lessons with, you’ll need to purchase lessons from them. These are not transferable to other teachers, as each teacher sets their own rate. Most teachers will offer a small discount for buying lessons in bulk (usually in increments of five or ten).
Once you complete the purchase, you can simply go back to the teacher’s profile and scroll down to their schedule. Their schedule will always show as adjusted to your timezone, which you can change in the upper-right corner.
Blocks in green are time blocks available for booking, while blocks with hashes are already booked up. Black blocks mean the teacher is unavailable.
Once you book a lesson with that teacher, you have to commit to that time. You have up until 12 hours prior to the scheduled lesson to cancel for a 100 per cent refund. Fewer than 12 hours before the lesson, and you’ll only be eligible for 50 percent.
There is a big caveat to all of this: refunds are NOT in the form of cash. Any time you receive a refund, you will receive it in the form of a Verbling credit. If for whatever reason, you are unhappy with your teacher, you can refund the money you paid for that teacher.
Instead of it being put back on your credit card, it’ll be applied to your account. From there you can use those credits towards lessons with another teacher.
Lesson credits are valid for six months and you can reactivate them only once. After a year, your credits will expire and you forfeit the cost of them. So make sure to use those credits!
What Happens During a Lesson on Verbling?
Everything for Verbling is self-contained on the platform. This means all video chats take place on the platform, and you don’t have to download separate software for your lessons. The video service inside Verbling allows you to record lessons, with your teacher’s permission, so you can review them at any time.
Choosing a Lesson Plan
You can use your 30-minute trial session—or your first paid lesson—to establish what sort of lesson plan you’re looking for from your instructor. The upside of having certified teachers is that many come prepared with lesson plans beforehand, which they can then tailor to your needs.
If you don’t want to waste precious lesson time establishing the plan, you can instead use Verbling’s direct messaging system. This way you can reach out to your instructor beforehand and let them know what you’d like to cover. Instructors’ profiles give a statistic for how often they respond to their messages, so you can have an estimate of when to expect a reply.
Interactive Lesson Materials
Verbling also has an in-programme PDF viewer, so you and your instructor can look at the same lesson materials. If your instructor provides interactive PDFs that you can fill out, all the better! You can also use the chatbox to do written exercises and have your instructor correct your writing, as well.
Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test these features, but some reviews state that both the PDF viewer and the chatbox can be glitchy and freeze. This issue isn't just on the desktop version, either; iOS and Android users report similar glitches when using the Verbling mobile apps.
This is rather unfortunate, as teachers must sign exclusionary clauses which prohibit them from contacting their students outside of the Verbling platform. If anything goes wrong, there’s no workaround to continue the lesson.
Also contained within the platform are supplementary materials you can access from your dashboard. There’s a calendar here to help you keep track of your scheduled lessons, as well as your progress in your target language.
You’ll also be able to access any homework your teacher assigns you through the platform, as well as vocabulary cards. Even better, Verbling automatically generates flashcards for you whenever your teacher types a word into the chatbox for your lesson. This is a great study tool to refer back to!
One of Verblings strongest features is the Articles section. The articles in this section include those written about your target language as well as in your target language. These cover everything from study tips, to common mistakes to avoid, to general life topics written in your target language. The articles make for excellent materials to go over with your teacher!
Like iTalki, Verbling also has a dedicated community section where users, both students and teachers, can post discussions. We really wanted to like this feature, but it suffers from one big problem: no filters.
There aren’t any filters to sort the discussions out by topic. You can sort them by language, and by who posts them (everyone, yourself, or your teacher). But that’s it. Other than a rudimentary search bar there’s no way of really sorting out the discussions. If your post isn’t on the front page, odds are others will miss your post and you won’t get any interaction.
If Verbling could organize the community section into even the most basic categories, this function would be a hundred times more useful.
What Does Verbling Look Like?
If you’re familiar with iTalki, you’ll feel right at home using Verbling.
You can access everything from your dashboard. You can find a teacher, view your upcoming scheduled lessons, review previous lessons, and complete any homework assignments from here too. The interface is clean and intuitive!
It does, however, suffer from a lack of consistency. Some features that are available on the desktop platform aren’t on the mobile version, and vice versa.
For example, you used to be able to browse different types of flashcard decks under the community feature on the desktop version. For whatever reason, we weren’t able to find it anywhere except on the mobile app.
Conversely, the convenient scheduling system on the desktop platform is not available on the mobile app. You’ll have to manually scroll through the dates to select a time to book with your teacher, rather than seeing all available times at once.
If you struggle with self-guided language programmes or teaching yourself from textbooks, you might want to consider Verbling.
All of the teachers on its platform have hundreds of hours of experience under their belts. Many have experience teaching all age groups and skill levels. No matter what your language needs are, chances are you’ll find the right teacher for you.
On paper, Verbling offers just about every language you can imagine.
In practice, there’s a bit more to it than that. While it’s true that you can find instructors for just about any language, the number varies greatly between languages. While more popular languages like French, Spanish, and German may have hundreds of teachers, others may have less than a dozen.
There’s a cost that comes with the associated scarcity, too. The fewer instructors there are for a language, the less competitive they have to be with their hourly rates.
The one Icelandic instructor we could find charged $99 per hour, for example, compared to the average $27 for the French instructors.
So, if we had to list the languages Verbling reliably offers, we’d say the following:
English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese, Russian, Korean, Arabic, Italian, Mandarin, and Portuguese.
For other languages we recommend italki, they have a lot more variety.
Teachers on Verbling determine their own rates, so the cost will vary depending on which teacher you book with. Verbling advertises lessons starting from $5, but we couldn’t find any instructors offering their services for any lower than $10 per hour.
You can book one 30-minute trial session through Verbling’s site free of charge. The caveat to this is that instructors only offer trial sessions for a limited time, and at their discretion. If you’re keen on a specific instructor, you’ll have to wait until they’re accepting trial sessions.
Another thing to note is that all transactions are charged in USD. You do have the option to change which currency is displayed by going to your settings. This will give you estimates of each teacher’s hourly rate in your currency based on the Daily Exchange Value.
According to Indeed.com reviews (not verified) out of 17 reviews people rated it the following:
Work-Life Balance 5.0
Pay & Benefits 4.1
Job Security and Advancement 4.3
Some of the concerns include higher competition on the platform (getting your teacher profile lost in the crowd) and the lack of a guaranteed income. On the other hand teachers are very happy with the flexibility, and the commission percentage that Verbling deducts from each lesson.
No clear winner – they both have advantages over the other. Verbling has more control over the way lessons are taught by providing lesson materials, and uses their own proprietary platform to connect the teacher and the student. italki on the other hand has more flexibility with more teachers, and the option to use any software to conduct the lessons (Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp, etc.)
As they are both service-based platforms with real people, the true value will be trying different teachers until you connect with someone who you feel will give you the best tuition to suit your personality.
Verbling vs. iTalki
Verbling and iTalki are very similar, both in function and in form. Where they differ, though, is in what they offer and how they offer it. Verbling only allows certified, verifiable teachers to offer their services on its platform. Additionally, all lessons are held on the platform’s own video service. iTalki, on the other hand, allows tutors to offer their services. You’ll also have to use a third-party video service, such as Skype or Zoom, to meet with your instructor.
Verbling vs. HiNative
While HiNative doesn’t offer full sessions with instructors like Verbling, it does allow users to connect with both native speakers and other learners. You can post questions or sound bytes of yourself speaking and get feedback from native speakers. In this way, it’s like micro-tutoring; you’re still getting feedback and instruction from natives, just on a much smaller scale. Best of all, many of HiNative’s features are free.
- Everything is conveniently self-contained on the platform
- Uses a thorough screening process for teachers
- Extremely customisable to suit your learning needs
- Community forums are messy and unorganized
- Some features are glitchy
- Number of teachers available varies by language
- Interface is not consistent across devices
What Verbling does well, it does really well. The self-contained interface makes scheduling and conducting lessons convenient, all without the need for different software. Verbling thoroughly screens all teachers to ensure you’re getting a quality language education.
The additional features, though somewhat flawed, are a welcome addition, too. Other marketplaces are just that—marketplaces. The extra features Verbling offers make it closer to a traditional language learning programme.
However, the inconsistent interface is plagued with glitches, and the red tape for teachers makes it hard to continue lessons when they happen. And Verbling’s no-cash-refunds policy means you can’t get your money back if it’s the interface and not the teacher you’re unhappy with.
All in all, Verbling is a solid marketplace if you’re looking for professional language instructions. We just wish it was executed a little better.
Ori Starling is a writer, editor, and translator based out of the United States. Their interest in languages began over 25 years ago, teaching themselves Spanish at a young age from tapes so that they could speak with family. Since then, they've studied Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese, with plans to continue their lifelong language learning journey.