Experiences of an English Language Teacher

My Experience of Teaching on Preply for 2 Years

It has been two years since I started tutoring students from around the world on Preply, and I guess it all stemmed from a lack of teaching opportunities during the midst of a pandemic. Despite registering with Preply back in July 2016, it took almost 5 years to finally complete the registration and making my profile live. Unfortunately, it was perhaps the least suitable moment to find an alternative means of earnings during the pandemic, but I was keen to make it work.

Setting Up My Profile

During the initial stages of setting up a Preply Profile, I was required to send documents which would confirm my identification and proof of address. I suppose organisations of any worth are expected to ensure the proper checks were in place and within half an hour, Preply had received a scan of my passport and a proof of address. All this was done via a smartphone application and the whole process was rather seamless.

Once my registration was accepted, I was able to make a start on setting up my profile. Creating an eye-catching and engaging profile takes time, and is something I spent a few days on. I wanted to make my profile as professional as possible, and to do so requires a bit of time and research.

Fortunately, as the Preply platform is open for all, you are able to view other profiles and see how more successful tutors are marketing themselves online. I wrote down some initial ideas and starting to formulate them into something a little more suitable. I guess one has to consider the learners that you one is attempting to market and teach, while also writing something that is graded for that potential client.

The other aspect that I noticed during my research was that tutors were marketing their profile with a headline such as “Professional IELTS Tutor” or “Qualified English Language Teacher”. Looking at the written introduction certainly helped create an eye-catchy headline for potential students.

Creating an Introduction Video

Once, I had created an engaging and click-able (if that is a word) profile for Preply, I had to spend a bit of time crafting an introduction video. I decided to watch a few introduction videos from fellow Preply Tutors, and learned many ways not create such a video.

Here are a few recommendations that I suggest for those that are willing to create an introduction video, whether it is for Preply or on alternative platforms. I hope it helps.

  • Record your introduction video in landscape rather than portrait mode, with the smartphone or camera placed at either eye-level or slightly higher – no one wants to look up your nostrils!
  • Record your introduction video with light facing behind the camera rather than light facing in-front of the camera. It would cause the exposure to over compensate and make things unviewable for potential students.
  • Keep your introduction short and to the point. No one wants to hear your ramblings. Also, grade your language! You are speaking to potential students.
  • Organise your introduction into threes: 1. About yourself; 2. What you offer; and a 3. Call to action.
  • Spend some time recording or re-recording your introduction video until it is the way you want it.
An example of my introduction video for Preply.

There are various other recommendations on Preply with recording an introduction video. However, I have included my introduction video above, where I hope to offer some inspiration and attempt to incorporate recommendations above.

Initial Student Bookings

A few weeks after setting up my profile, I had my first message and booking from a potential student. I was filled with slight disbelief as I held little to no hope of getting any students. However, I was quite unsure what to do during the trial lesson, so I decided to attend a free webinar session via Preply, which are aimed to help tutors out when first starting on the platform. In fact, there are lots of webinars and recordings to help new or seasoned Preply Tutors.

The support webinar, which I attended, gave me the confidence to understand how to deal potential new students and possibly sell a course. So, I created a PowerPoint to structure first lessons and provide a sense of professionalism. Essentially, I attempted to achieve the following with initial/trial lessons:

  • Develop rapport with learners, so I better understand the learners and they are able to get to know me
  • Determine student aims with their English learning
  • Any potential challenges that students encountered with their English
  • Introduce students to my methodology when teaching
  • Expected equipment students need to attend lessons
  • Demonstrate an example lesson with a variety of tasks
  • Provide feedback for any student utterances and scaffold language
  • Offer an opportunity for potential students to ask questions

I spent a few hours crafting a PowerPoint and then taught my first trial lesson. The initial feedback that I had received from the student was along the lines of, “I have never received such a professional first lesson on Preply!”. And with that, I had decided that I had a template for any potential trial lesson and have used this template for all trial lessons. In fact, I have recorded examples of trial lessons and shared on YouTube which are available to view below.

Here is an example of a Preply trial lesson with an Intermediate level student of English
Here is an example of a Preply trial lesson with an Advanced level student of English

If you would like to look a thorough procedure of a possible trial lesson, then I would suggest that you consider looking at Joanna’s post on the experiences of her very first trial lesson.

Preply Statistics

A post such as this would not be considered suitable without sharing key information from the platform such as total number of lessons taught, number of students, overall earnings, and other relevant statistics.

At the time of writing this, I have a 0.33% conversion to trial rate with potential students. I get this figure by how many times a student has booked a trial lesson with me (73 times) divided by how many times a potential student has viewed my profile (a total of 21,875).

Preply also automatically calculates (somehow), your profile and I have amended my profile from time-to-time, but I always revert back to my original profile image as this seems to have some impact to the automatic assessment of my Profile Score, which currently stands at 100%.

Obviously, at the time of this post, my profile position is 1075 with an availability of 35 hours per week. I like to organise my availability according to my own personal circumstances, so this is reviewed every few months.

Now looking at the statistics related to current or new students on the platform, I have a conversion rate of 60.27% with an average number of lessons of 5.9 hours. Of course I have taught a number of different students a range of lessons with some having at least 50 hours of classes, while some students book a few hours and move on.

Currently, I have 84 active students that book lessons with me. Typically, students book between one or two lessons per week, with lessons lasting usually sixty minutes. My overall trial lessons rating on Preply is 4.9, with no trial lessons missed. There is a note that I have cancelled 2 trial lessons, which was something that I don’t typically do or recommend.

Unfortunately, when I booked a Christmas holiday, there is a function on Preply where you can cancel all scheduled lessons during a set period to allow for holidays and this then blocks out your availability. When completing this process, I completely forgot that I had two trial lessons booked for the Christmas period so these got cancelled. I would recommend that tutors reschedule trial or normal lessons rather than cancel them altogether, and explain to students the reason.

In terms of overall achievements with Preply, I have earned a total of $16,741 during the past two years with a total number of 1,030 tutoring hours. If you divide the earnings by the tutoring hours, there is an average of $16.26 per hour. To explain the discrepancy between my tutoring rate and the rather low hourly for the past two years: firstly trial lessons are unpaid with 100% commission to Preply which are included in the total tutoring hours and secondly there is a commission to Preply for all hours taught on the platform which depends on the number of lessons taught.

The average rating for my profile is 5.0 with a total 31 reviews, with a total zero absences (again I prefer to reschedule all lessons rather than cancel or miss classes). I have taught a total of 164 students for the past two years with an average of 6.3 hours.

With the graph above, you can start to see an overall pattern in terms of earnings with my winter months being my most lucrative. However, this has continued this year earnings being above $1,400 per month since March to date. This is obviously all before tax and there is a conversion to UK Sterling which needs to be taken into account.

During my initial months on the platform, I earned $26.80 in April 2021, followed by $393.20 in May 2021. Earnings is not guaranteed on Preply but the more you dedicate to the platform, the lucrative it can be, with many students switching to online courses since the pandemic.

Memorable Students with Preply

Having taught a broad number of students over the past two years, I hope to have gained an insight into the teaching with the Preply platform. I have had a wonderful opportunity to tutor many students over the past two years. Some students that come to mind include helping a Polish young adult learner with their IELTS preparation and she had lessons with me for around a year and a half. She was fluent in Spanish, French, had just started learning German and had decided to become more proficient in English.

The other student that I remember was a Chinese adult learner who wanted to study at a UK institute, so she needed to pass the IELTS at Band 6.5 overall with no less than 6.5 in Writing. She had taken the IELTS in the past but found it difficult to achieve the much needed 6.5 in perhaps all aspects of the examination. After much preparation, she took the IELTS, gained the required band, and was accepted to study at post-graduate level with the University of Exeter.

A third and final memorable student that I am currently teaching include a pair of young learner twins from France. They currently study Chinese and English but obviously speak French as their first language. I decided at the beginning of 2023 to start teaching young learners and these were the very first children that booked lessons with me. I have now taught quite a few lessons with them, focusing on stories, CLIL or other interesting topics. They are very patient and keen to share what they have done during the week with me. Perhaps, they are the easiest students to teach as they carry the lesson themselves and I correct them or give them some engaging games to do with me. Their mother is very keen to communicate with me and is happy to share any updates about what they do or where they visit together. It is so nice to chat with them and I am so pleased to have decided to teach young learners this year.

The Future with Preply?

I shall not be reviewing this platform as extensively as I have done before – there is actually a video that I created and shared previously and is available to watch below – but where do I see myself with Preply in the coming years? To be honest, I love the flexibility of scheduling the hours that can be arranged other commitments, whether it is full-time work or life getting in the way. And because of this, I shall be continuing with to teach with the Preply platform.

This was a review of Preply after one month of teaching! I hope this gives you some insight into the platform.

There is quite a big update which I shall be sharing in the coming months, so Preply will certainly help when it comes to such a large change in my life. I have also been able to meet so many students from around the world such as Thailand, Peru, Germany, Switzerland, France or China, and it is such a pleasure to make so many connections or to be recommended to other potential students.

It is also a great opportunity to supplement and diversify your income, particularly with the cost of living crisis now affecting so many of us. I have yet to meet any of my students or fellow tutors face-to-face but I am looking forward to seeing, should they wish to meet up and have a coffee together.

So would I recommend this to other professionals? Of course! There are plenty of opportunities to carve out a specialist niche, and I am now sharing an opportunity for fellow online tutors who wish to develop the necessary skills to deliver quality lessons and create an engaging profile for potential students.

If you would like to join our ELT Experiences Online Community via YouTube, then all you have to do is click here for more information.

The following ELT Experiences Community Membership will offer those to join a meeting with me every two weeks to chat about online teaching and to answer the questions that you have when it comes to teaching online or face-to-face.

Anyhow, had I not decided to work with this platform, I wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to share get involved with Teacher Training or to create a variety of videos – paid of course – for fellow Preply Tutors. So the whole platform has great potential to promote and develop your online tutoring business.

7 Comments

  1. Joanna

    It became fashionable to hate on Preply, but I must admit that despite many things that could be improved, it’s not a bad platform to use. I resonate with your feeling about Preply giving you this flexibility that is hard to get otherwise. I also got a chance to teach group lessons and do some behind-the-scenes testing for them, which was fun to be a part of.

    Another thing I need to mention is your comment about giving a truly professional first lesson on Preply. I followed your first lesson ‘tutorial’ before teaching on Preply for the first time and got the exact same comment! I think students don’t have high expectations from online tutors, and I hope this sentiment will change soon.

    Thank you for the mention and good luck on your next big adventure!💪🏽

    • Martin Sketchley

      I guess tutoring online has the reputation of being filled with rather unprofessional individuals. Much like my experience of teaching abroad in my early years in South Korea, it is a generalised view but I do hope that views from students and other professionals shift, and that the industry regard teaching online as a valid alternative to face-to-face lessons.

      I shall be sharing my next big announcement in the coming weeks, possibly month, but for now I can say too much until everything is fixed.

      Best of luck with your Preply lessons and I look forward to you next blog post Joanna.

  2. Never heard of Preply but the statistics you provided has generated a lot of interest between my colleagues and myself.

    The earnings you shared was during the pandemic, is Preply just as popular or is it in fluctuated?

    • Martin Sketchley

      I guess Preply became more popular obviously during the pandemic but it is still as popular and I guess it’s now the norm. My earnings have improved this year despite us all living post-pandemic.

  3. Enya

    The reality is preply slaving teachers.
    Let’s do some calculations, shall we?

    I will use your current rate of 18%
    Class \ Preply % \ Teacher % \ total win
    1st – 100% \ 0% \ 100% preply
    2nd- 18%\ 82%\ 60% preply
    3rd – 18%\ 82%\ 54.7% teacher
    4rth – 18%\ 82%\ 61.% teacher
    5th – 18%\ 82%\ 65.6% teacher

    Even in the best-case scenario, you are always cut one-third of your income
    but this is overlooking because only 60% convert, so 40% of 100% of the fee goes to preply

    This means, in reality, you only earn 57% of your fee. And that makes sense when you divide your earnings by hour… you only received $15, which is not a surprise is around 53.3% of your actual fee, this is due to your different rates.

    If you know a little about mathematics you spot slavery a mile away

  4. Thank you for sharing the trial lesson. I was impressed by your patience and the amount of time you let the student speak.

    Do you have any videos where you work with beginning students? If not, can you guide me to some? Thanks.

    At the moment my website is geared toward English language, but I am planning a pivot to teaching English as a foreign language.

  5. Very insightful. I am a new teacher with Preply, and so it is great to learn from experts. I like the fact that you’ve shared specific key pointers here that are proven. I write as well, and I believe my blog complements this information and is relevant to anyone seeking not only self-development but self-mastery. Go ahead and check it out, I welcome you all to share in my insights @https://englishwithshakiel.blogspot.com/

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