For the past few months, I have been teaching via the platform ‘Preply‘ tutoring private students in my free-time. When I first registered, back in 2016, it took me 5 years to finally create a profile promoting myself as an English tutor. After my profile went live a few months ago, I thought it would be time to share an honest opinion of this platform.
In this post, I shall share both the advantages, the drawbacks and my overall conclusions about finding students and teaching via Preply.
Teaching via the platform has a range of advantages, and for those that are unaware of Preply; it is an online provider attempting to match potential students with potential teachers. I guess it is the Tinder of online language teaching. Anyhow, let’s have a look at the first advantage.
1. Marketing Yourself
The first advantage I noticed via the Preply platform was the ability of marketing yourself as a language tutor. Tutors have the autonomy and decision to market themselves as they see fit, and as there is a quite a bit competition on the platform, it is best to market yourself differently. In my case, I noticed that there were many tutors who were focusing solely on conversational English, so decided to market myself differently and focus on exam preparation skills. Therefore, it just makes sense to spend a little more time developing your profile and offering a service which not many other tutors tend to offer.
2. Being Your Own Boss
When teaching private students, whether you are finding students on Preply or not, you have the autonomy to schedule, prepare and deliver lessons to students. As such, there is not the factor of a large online educational provider (cough, cough … iTutor … cough, cough), prescribing what and how to teach students online. I am not saying that tutors have absolute autonomy with students on Preply, but there is more respect and understanding that tutors know how best to teach via the platform. If students are unhappy, they have the chance to raise their issues with Preply, but ultimately if you are delivering quality lessons and you have developed rapport with your students, then you will have no concern.
3. Schedule Flexibility
The next advantage which I discovered after teaching via Preply was the flexibility of scheduling. If you are unable to teach at a particular time (should something arise at the last minute), then being able to reschedule is clearly one advantage with Preply. When I reflect on teaching with other organisations, the hours that you must make yourself available is fixed and any potential could book a lesson at the last minute. However, within Preply, you are able to adjust the notice required for students to book lessons – I usually get students to book with at least 2 days notice.
4. Setting Your Price
When you start teaching via the Preply platform, you can set the price which you feel best represents your experience, qualifications as well as specialisation. I have decided on a price which I feel best remunerates for the hour. Decide what you should get in your pocket after preparing lessons, delivering and spending time with potential students. The flexibility to adjust your price, but you need to be aware that other teachers may offer the same service for at a more competitive rate.
In this part, we look at the possible drawbacks with the platform and what I discovered after a few months tutoring via Preply. Your experience may be different but this is what I discovered.
1. Unpaid Trial Lessons
After a few weeks of teaching and building up your profile with Preply – remember it is a marathon not a sprint – you will notice that all of your potential students’ trial lesson is unpaid. This can be rather discouraging and disheartening as you will start teaching the vast majority of students unpaid with no possibility that they will sign up for possible lessons. I feel that Preply tutors should be remunerated for trial classes – without tutors, the platform would not exist – and I have delivered quality trial classes to students who took advantage of a marketing ploy by this platform but did not sign up for additional lessons. If students are committed and keen to take lessons, then unpaid trial classes should reward teachers for their effort in helping to develop their platform.
2. Commission Rate
As Preply has to support students and connects them with potential tutors, they take a commission – much like a finder’s fee. When you first start out, the commission rate is determined at 33%. The more hourly classes you deliver, the lower the commission rate. After teaching over 100 hours on this platform, my current commission which Preply withdraw is 25%.
3. Lack of Guaranteed Hours
When you tutor English (or any other language for that matter), the amount of hours that you could teach could fluctuate. I have discovered that summer was a rather quiet period for teachers with a huge surge of interest in possible lessons in the autumn. The fluctuation of hours (and pay), could cause great stress and the casualisation of tutoring remotely for yourself can be detrimental to one’s own health. I would never recommend anyone to rely upon Preply as a possible and regular source of income as it is far too unpredictable. It is probably best to view Preply as an alternative source of income which could be combined with a primary job.
4. Preply Materials
When I started delivering trial classes, I noticed very early on that the materials that Preply offer English teachers can be improved. As a teacher, I decided that creating my very own PowerPoint and using alternative materials would make it more suitable for teachers. If you go through this route, then preparing materials (much like teaching in a physical school) can take a lot time but there are alternative sources which could alleviate the time taken to develop materials from scratch. However, if you are going to deliver the Preply prescribed materials, you will find students leaving as it is always best to teach students with material which best suits their needs and knowing what to teach. As an experiment with one student, I decided to teach this student with my material and then followed with Preply materials. Let us say that the student was keen to return to materials that I had created and developed.
Overall Score: 4/5
My overall opinion with Preply is that it can be a wonderful source to discover a variety of students. To date, I have been teaching adult students from around Europe and those that are also currently residing in the UK. All have been adults and I am pleased to be part of their learning journey. Would I recommend Preply to others who are keen to find possible students? Of course!
It is a great platform and the organisers of this website try to provide some form of training or workshops that you could attend in realtime. You will also learn the necessary skills to deliver successful lessons remotely.