Cambly or Preply: Which Should You Choose for Your Online English Education?
This article is for students of English. If you’re an educator looking to make the transition to online teaching, please try this article instead.
Online education is the learning platform of the future. But with the rise of online schooling, too many business have flocked to the online marketplace to compete for students. Truly terrible platforms with under-qualified tutors have started huge advertising campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, and amidst all that noise you might be missing the best sites available.
In my experience, two of the best online platforms are Cambly and Preply. Both will help you work on talking to native speakers in English. Both are great at what they do. However “what they do” is very, very different.
Preply is a classic online marketplace. Tutors on the site offer their skills, and you choose a tutor whose video and profile you like. Then you schedule lessons with them at a specific date and time. Prices change depending on the tutor, and you can very easily choose how much or how little you want to pay/study. You could pay as little as $5/hr and as much as $50/hr.
Cambly is like having an English-speaking friend at the other end of your phone for whenever you want to talk. Unlike Preply where you organize specific dates and times to meet, on Cambly you can simply make a video call and the first available online tutor will pick up. The “convenience factor” is huge. Cambly is a subscription-based service with several options, but the price on average is about $15/hour.
Let’s compare the two platforms in three categories: (1) price, (2) convenience, and (3) quality.
Cambly’s pricing options are subscription-based, and if you sign up for 30-minute sessions 5 days/week, they’re actually losing money by having you as a customer. They make money by expecting you not to use all the time you’ve bought, which (let’s be honest) will probably happen. If you don’t use your minutes for the week, they won’t roll over. Making Cambly cost-effective will require you to subscribe for a package of at least several months. That said, learning a new language is a long process, and “putting your money where your mouth is” could be a great motivator in making certain you study every day.
However, because you’re subscribing to Cambly every month, it’s a little difficult to take a vacation or a break. If you don’t use the service for a week, then you just lost a week’s worth of lessons. There’s no way to get your money back.
If you browse the English tutor page for Preply, you’ll quickly see that lessons on Preply could be far cheaper per hour than Cambly, but they also could be much, much more expensive. It all depends on what tutor you choose.
On Preply, there’s only one way to lose the money that you’ve invested. If you schedule a lesson with your tutor but then cancel it four hours before the lesson begins, you will be forced to pay for the lesson. Preply packages also require less commitment than Cambly. On Cambly, you subscribe by the month or year. On Preply, you pay for whatever number of hours you choose.
Because Preply has a more personal connection between tutor and student, you can often reschedule lesson if you ask the tutor personally. What’s more, if you’re having internet difficulties that day, you won’t have to pay for the lesson.
Preply wins the (1) price competition, but only by a hair. Cambly is cheaper in the long term for very serious and consistent learners, but Preply is more flexible. You’ll also never lose your investment on Preply.
Cambly is an exceptionally convenient platform. If you want to spend a half-hour in a café speaking English, all you have to do is open the application or website and make a phone call. It’s that simple. You could use it in a taxi, on break, at a restaurant, or at home. Eventually, after a few random calls with various Cambly tutors, you might find someone who you really like speaking to. You can then schedule lessons during the hours they’re online. In terms of pure convenience, that’s difficult to beat!
Preply is not quite as convenient as Cambly. You’ll need to schedule lessons at least two hours before the time you want to study, and you can’t just call someone else if your tutor isn’t free. However, Preply does have the perk of having tutors for not only English but also for many other languages and subjects.
There are also fewer restrictions placed on Preply tutors. This means that it’s easier to share resources between students and teachers, which can be a huge advantage if you’re looking to build your independent study tools.
For (2) convenience, I think Cambly wins the fight.
Cambly accepts native speakers from all over the world. Being on the tutor side of things, I can promise you that some non-native speakers have slipped into the application as well.
Because of how low Cambly pays their tutors, the quality of their tutors is, in general, not that great. A truly skilled teacher should be able to find better employment opportunities than 10USD/hr, and any talented teachers who use the Cambly platform have very limited schedules because they have a group of “regulars” that they teach.
Cambly has the additional disadvantage of not having reliable access to the same tutor. Your new teacher won’t be able to adapt the class to your needs in the short time that you have together, and then the next day you’ll have to start all over again with someone else.
Preply accepts both native and non-native speakers. If you’re a beginner, you might want to choose someone who speaks your mother language and who went through the same experience as you. If you’re an intermediate or advanced learner, you might want to find a native speaker who can help you with fluency, idioms, and accent reduction. Preply tutors can get their education verified, so you can be sure that the person you’re taking lessons with is a qualified teacher. Be careful of taking lessons from someone with unverified qualifications, though!
Education on Preply is also extremely personalized. You pay for the tutor, not the website, and you’ll continue to study with that same tutor until you decide that you’ve learned enough or that you’d like to continue your education with someone else. This leads to teaching that matches your needs and desires.
On Preply, you’re allowed to share contact information like WhatsApp, Telegram, or Instagram after the first lesson, which makes contacting your tutor and organizing lessons much easier. (Doing that on Cambly will get you banned!)
For (3) quality, the prize goes to Preply. Teachers on the platform are simply better at what they do.
Choosing the right platform for your English education does not need to be a difficult decision. You just need to decide what’s most important to you. Do you want a well-qualified teacher? Go for Preply! Do you want to study on-the-go? Try Cambly.
In the end, your success will not depend on which platform you choose. The only thing that can make you a good language learner is combining the right tools with your own motivation to succeed.