Group lessons on Preply

Preply is an online teaching platform that I’ve been using for the last three months. It’s mostly known for its 1:1 lessons, but recently I received a notification saying that I’d be an ideal candidate for their group lessons. After some thinking, I decided to give it a go and see if this option is as good for me as they claim.

On 28th April, Preply notified me about the possibility of teaching groups via Zoom. This email coincided with another Preply milestone – teaching over 60 hours on the platform, which isn’t quite common (only 50% of tutors reaches this far). The message initially freaked me out, but I decided to take it easy and firstly applied for their internal Teach group lessons on the Preply course.

The idea is straightforward and seems a bit too good to be true. You choose the level and the topic you want to teach. Then you decide on a day and time and you’re set. Preply provides you with lesson plans and presentations, and that’s pretty much it. You can sign up for as many or as few lessons as you want. The idea is to provide students with cheaper lessons which they can take whenever they want. It offers flexibility, exposes them to English speakers from all over the world and gives them the possibility to be surrounded by a variety of accents. Sounds too good to be true? I needed to check it for myself.

Firstly, I needed to register as a group tutor. Since all the classes are on Zoom, Preply provides teachers with the full software version. Before you give them your email, they warn you about all the lessons being recorded, which can’t be switched off, so you should create a new email that you don’t currently use on Zoom. Otherwise, you may have an issue with your private Zoom lessons and personal videocalls. I got the access to group lessons and a full version of Zoom in less than 24 hours after registering.

Immediately after receiving the confirmation, I started scrolling through possible lessons. There are a lot of options from A1 to C1 levels. You have the ability to go over the notes before you commit, so you can teach something that you enjoy and feel comfortable with. Initially, I signed up for one class and got nervous. After some thinking, I decided to fill my mornings with group lessons. In my first week of trying group lessons, I joined six group lessons. The advantage of choosing classes is that you can teach the same class over and over again, which reduces preparation time.

As I was waiting impatiently for my first lesson, something unexpected happened – it got cancelled. I realised that the majority of classes get cancelled. The Preply group lesson policy is that if no one signs up for the lesson 24 hours before, it gets cancelled, and you get paid 50% of your hourly rate after commission. At the moment of writing this post, I registered for 12 group lessons, and only four of them weren’t cancelled. I must admit that this Preply feature is quite beneficial for me and provides me with income that requires minimal effort.

However, four out of these 12 lessons happened, so let’s focus on them instead. Once the lesson is confirmed, you can check its status on your profile under Group lessons – Your lessons. After the cancellation, the lesson disappears from there. If you’re waiting for confirmation, you can check when you have this class and what the topic is. It also shows the number of available spots for this lesson. The class size ranges from 1-to 6 students. 15 minutes before the lesson starts, you get an email with a notification reminding you about the class and information about the number of students who signed up for this class. In two of my group lessons, I had two students who registered and in both, only one of them showed up. In the other two, only one student booked the class. One of the ‘group’ students told me that in the 13 lessons that he attended, he had a partner in only one of them.

The idea of these group lessons is for students to follow a 30-hour course with 30 different tutors. Therefore, you aren’t allowed to bring any new material to class. You can personalise and modify it, depending on your teaching style. I decided to follow the material. If the students were a little bit less chatty, I managed to do more vocabulary revision before the main part of the lesson. The lessons are 55 minutes long, and Preply offers more than enough materials to fill that time. You are also expected to finish the class with error corrections and help students find their homework and pre-lesson task for the next lesson. Yes, students are expected to complete a pre-lesson task, so they should come in ready and aware of the topic. Here is an example lesson plan I followed during my first group lesson on Preply.

TimeProcedure
5 mins1. Welcome the students and introduce yourself.
2. Get to know each other:
– How long have you been on Preply?
– Do you have any questions about the pre-lesson task?
– What task was difficult/easy?
3. Topic related questions:
– When did you last travel by plane?
– Where did you go?
4. Present the lesson objectives.
5. Present the lesson structure.
5 mins1. Warm-up:
– Describe the picture (a family waiting at an airport).
– Answer the questions: Where are they? Where were they going? What are they doing? What has happened? How do they feel?
5 mins1. Pre-teach / Revise vocabulary: read an airport announcement and fill in the gaps with the missing words (reschedule, depart, cancelled, announcement, delayed).
2. Explain any new vocabulary.
3. Elicit the difference between delayed and cancelled.
4 mins1. Set the listening: A woman waiting at the gate when she hears an announcement.
2. Give some time to read and understand the questions.
3. Listen to the recording and answer the questions.
4. Check and discuss the answers.
4 mins1. Pronunciation: Elicit the difference between the word stress -teen and -ty in numbers.
2. Model and drill pronunciation.
5 mins1. Set the listening: The woman’s flight was cancelled.
2. Give some time to read and understand the questions.
3. Listen to the recording and write the answers to the questions.
4. Check and discuss the answers.
5 mins1. Teach – grammar: cause and effect.
– When do we use why?
– How is because different from because of?
because of = due to + a noun
because (conjunction) + a clause
2. Grammar practice: fill in the gaps with because / because of / due to.
7 mins1. Review the use of why / because / because of / due to.
2. Controlled practice: Ask and answer questions about flying using new grammar.
3. Model the activity: write a question starting with why and ask the student to give you the answer.
4. The student writes in the chat three questions starting with why. Discuss the answers.
7 mins1. Set the roleplay: Student A works for an airline. Student B is a passenger. A flight was cancelled. Talk on the phone and discuss the reason why the flight was cancelled, reschedule the flight and ask about any vouchers.
2. Swap roles.
8 mins1. Error correction.
2. Reflect on your class experience – ask for a rating (1-5).
– How well can you understand an airport announcement?
– How well can you use because / because of / due to?
– What vocabulary can you add to your flashcards?
3. Discuss what needs to be done next (repeat the class, sign up for the next lesson, do the post-lesson task).
An example 55 mins lesson plan for A2 level (The flight has been delayed)

This lesson plan is very different from what I offer to my 1:1 students, but I stick to the rules and follow the materials as necessary. I noticed that the material provided by Preply is more than enough to have a successful 55 minutes long lesson. In the case of finishing a bit too early, at the end of each presentation, there are 3 or 4 more slides with extra activities, so there is no need to panic.

Once the lesson ends, you get an email with autoconfirmation of the class and get paid right away. After each class, you can leave feedback about each student, comment on their attendance and suggest their level. I believe that students have to do something very similar after each class and rate their tutor. My first “group” student told me that he would put me in the top 3 of all the Preply tutors he had up to this point, so I believe that so far I’m doing well!

Group lessons are a great way of making extra cash in your free time. I’ll definitely continue signing up for them while I’m waiting for new students. As Preply works on commissions, you still need to have private students to increase teaching hours and decrease the commission rate (group lessons don’t count, unfortunately). Another benefit is frequent cancellations and, of course, ready-to-go lesson plans. You can also keep signing up for the same lessons over and over again, which will decrease your preparation time to a bare minimum. The main disadvantage is that there are more tutors than lessons available, so you need to be quick to book your spot!

Do you teach on Preply? What do you think about the group lessons?

One month on Preply

On 24th February 2022, I had my very first Preply class. Now, a little over a month later, I’ve gathered some Preply experience and statistics that I’d like to share with you and think about my next steps on the platform.

Let me walk you through my humble beginnings and a successful month on Preply.

Becoming a tutor

I’d been thinking of becoming an online tutor for the longest time. When I finally mustered some energy and motivation to proceed, the first thing I did was head to the Preply – Become a tutor. I put all my credentials, wrote a short introduction, uploaded my certificates, and then hit the wall. The thought of recording a video made me delay my experience by a month. I finally managed to sit down, watch their video tutorials and write my own script. The good thing about their introductory video is that it has to be between 50 and 100 seconds long. You can find thousands of introduction videos that you can use for inspiration, and also some guidelines on how to create the perfect video in the Profile video advice section. After watching some of their videos, I noticed a pattern and divided my video into sections:

  • Introduce myself
  • My background
  • My teaching experience + qualifications
  • My teaching style
  • Humblebrag about my current students and what they say about me

I wrote the script in about 15 minutes, but the recording took me a bit longer. I’m not going to lie – I was exhausted at the end of the recording, wanted to upload it and stop thinking about it immediately. Apart from the short length of the video, the other good thing about it is that you don’t have to edit it! I’ve tried recording a video on Italki before, but their video style scared me off, as it seemed to be quite complicated and required a lot of technical skills that I don’t think I have.

Once I hit upload the video I decided to forget about it. The standard video approval takes approximately 48 hours, but I’ve heard stories of people waiting well over a week or being ghosted completely. Much to my surprise, I received a positive message the very next day, in less than 24 hours and felt a sense of euphoria.

Preply courses

Before I completed my profile and made it live, I decided to go over the Preply internal courses to fully understand the platform and how it works. There are four courses that, in my opinion, you should go over to feel a bit more confident:

  • How to create a profile that gets students
  • How Preply works
  • The Preply classroom
  • Preply methodology

Preply has many options that I’m yet to discover and understand, but I thought that this would give me somewhat of an idea of what I’m expected to do. I sat down and completed all the courses in less than an hour. Most of them are short texts or videos that briefly explain the functions of different parts of the platform. I’d definitely recommend going over these courses as they take the initial shock and let you play around with the settings just a tiny bit.

Going live

Once I completed the courses, I revised my profile and wrote an additional description in my native language – Polish. I was wondering about the ideal price and decided to low-ball hard as I was a newbie and wanted to attract some students to get the ball rolling. After using many other websites I had very low expectations, so imagine my surprise when I got booked six times within the first 48 hours. During that time, I doubled my prices and still got new students.

I remember when I watched the video explaining the functions of Preply, I giggled when they mentioned that it’s possible to hide your profile in case you get overbooked. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I’d have to make myself invisible in the first week of teaching. I think that my success rate depended on my knowledge of other languages. Most of my students on Preply are from Poland, and all of them want me to understand them in their native language. I use English 99% of the time, but they want to feel safe and comfortable during this 1% of class when we may need to clarify things in Polish.

I believe that my success rate would be much lower if I hadn’t spoken any additional language other than English. I’ve communicated with some English native speakers who started more or less at the same time as I did, and they had a bit more problems finding new students. I’m not sure how the Preply algorithm works, but I got certainly lucky and was pushed up having a multi-language profile and being immediately booked on the first day.

Trial lessons

Once you go live, you need to organise your schedule. I decided to keep it simple and didn’t offer crazy hours. I thought that I can work 4 hours in the morning and 4 hours in the afternoon, with a 2 hours break in between for lunch. I wanted to work and get money, but I didn’t want to lose my mind and obsessively check my phone every 30 minutes to see if my calendar had changed.

Normally, students book a class before communicating with you, which is a blessing and somehow a curse at the same time. As I mentioned before, I completed the Preply courses and listened to their advice to set trial lesson notice for at least one day in advance. I don’t know about you, but I need some time to prepare mentally before teaching a new student.

Whenever I got booked, I messaged new students and thanked them for choosing me. I informed them about what I was going to do in the first lesson and asked about their preferences and their first lesson goals. Preply also offers placements tests, so you can get an idea of the level and plan accordingly. Before my very first trial lesson, I went above and beyond to deliver the best quality class I could imagine. If you are interested in reading more about my experience and some thoughts that I had afterwards, go to My very first trial lesson on Preply. The only disclaimer I have is that after having exactly 10 trial lessons, my approach has changed, I’m less stressed and I’d normally follow the lesson plan I’d prepared for the first trial lesson and adapt it depending on the level and needs of students.

I also mentioned the curse of being able to book a class with me without any prior communication. I decided to not teach children online anymore and focus on teaching teenagers and adults only. I mentioned it in my profile description, but as it turns out, not everyone reads that. I was booked one time for a child and needed to decline the offer. The class wasn’t actually cancelled, the mum of the child decided to take this opportunity, and we chatted for an hour in English. This was our first and last meeting as she wasn’t looking for a teacher for herself. So, I had a free trial lesson without actually getting a student.

Teaching on Preply

I must admit that at first, I didn’t like Preply that much. The platform is very useful and you don’t stress about not being paid, as the money appears on your profile 15 minutes after the class, but the classroom itself left a lot to desire. I enjoy getting emails notifying me about being booked, or a build-in chat that lets me communicate with students at any given time. It helps me stay organised and I have no difficulties keeping track of everything we do. However, there are many issues with screen and sound sharing, whiteboard appearing and disappearing, calendar blocking certain hours and also students not being able to reserve future times without paying upfront. I have mentioned all this and my solutions to these problems in Videoconferencing software.

Preply claims that they want to implement flipped classroom methodology. Students should choose a topic ahead of time, complete listening, reading and writing exercises and come in to check their homework and chat about the topic. I’m sure that it works for some teachers and I even gave it a go, but somehow it’s not it for me. I have a library of my resources, I prepare my lessons, and of course, focus on speaking for the main part of the class. So far so good! Students enjoy my teaching style and the topics I (and sometimes they) bring to the table. With some of them, I communicate ahead of time and let them know my lesson objectives, so they can prepare themselves and tell me about what they’d learnt. Of course, it depends on students and their preferences. It took me some time to understand their needs and see how well we work together. I use the library from time to time, but more as an inspiration rather than a lesson plan itself.

Cancelling lessons

I haven’t cancelled any classes yet, but I have rescheduled a few. Preply has the policy that students can reschedule up to four hours before the class. If they don’t and they can’t attend, you are allowed to claim this money for the class that didn’t happen. I had a few instances in which students messaged me two or three hours before, informing me about not being able to attend lessons for various reasons. I rescheduled and didn’t ask for payment. I do like money, but also I like working for it. If a student apologises for having an emergency, no internet or a meeting at work, I understand. After all, one day I may be in a similar situation and will ask for understanding, too.

Getting reviews

This is something I didn’t know and didn’t really think about – at the end of each class I’m being rated on my performance! I must say that when I realized that this was the case, I got slightly nervous. I taught 46 hours so far and got an average of 5/5! This makes me feel extremely motivated and happy, but at the same time, it makes me question the quality of other teachers on Preply. I understand that many people use this website as a way of getting some extra cash and probably don’t care too much about preparing interesting and engaging classes, but it’s not my case! No matter the hourly rate, each student gets the attention they deserve.

After teaching five hours to the student, you can ask them to leave a review. I didn’t ask for that, as I think it’s a bit annoying to beg for reviews. I believe that all of my students will leave an honest review whenever they feel like it.

Getting paid

This subject is a bit sensitive. On Preply you don’t get paid anything for trial lessons, so the beginnings require a lot of unpaid work. These classes are paid by students and 100% commission goes straight to the platform. This means that if you are a popular teacher and ask quite a bit per hour, Preply definitely enjoys having you around.

Preply is a free platform, and you don’t need to pay anything to be on it, but they work on lesson commissions. The more you teach, the lower the commissions. In a way, I do understand this model, as the platform is convenient and offers a wide range of functions that maybe you’d have to pay for if you worked on your own. However, the commission rates range from 33 to 18%, so even if you commit to Preply and work solely on their platform, you can’t get more than 82%.

The nice and definitely motivating thing about Preply is that you can see your balance increase after each class. You get a nice e-mail saying that your money has already been deposited and informed about the remaining hours until the lower commission. You can also withdraw your money at any given moment, using Paypal, Wise, Skrill or Payoneer. It is a very quick and sensible action, which lets you have your money within minutes.

End of a month statistics

Last month I taught 45 hours, including 10 trial lessons. From that, I got nine new students. Some of them became regulars, and others booked a class every other week. My average review rating, based on one (voluntarily written) review is 5/5, and an average lesson rating is also 5/5. I haven’t missed or cancelled any lessons.

Overall, despite some drawbacks, I’m satisfied with Preply. I didn’t know that I could be a successful teacher online. It allowed me to focus on my professional development and took most of the free time that now I spend teaching. I’m looking forward to my future on Preply and seeing how it helps me become a better teacher.

Have you ever tried online teaching platforms? Where do you teach, and what’s your experience with them? Would you ever consider teaching on Preply?

My very first trial lesson on Preply

So it finally happened! After months of debating and postponing the recording of the video for Preply, I made it. I sat down, recorded the video and after only one day of waiting, my application was approved. I assumed that just like with any other teaching platform I’ve used before, I will wait a week and book maybe a student or two. Spoilers alert – I was wrong.

Once I got accepted to be a Preply English tutor, I completed their four internal self-study courses:

  1. How to create a profile that gets students
  2. How Preply works
  3. The Preply classroom
  4. Preply Methodology for English subject tutors

It took me about an hour to complete all four of them and to be completely frank, I got a little confused. I assumed that I have some time to play around with it and figure it out before I get booked. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I’d get my very first class booked for the next day.

Let me share my Preply experience with you!

1. Before the class

I have had plenty of trial lessons before. I normally follow my routine and focus on delivering a demo lesson just to give a taste of what my lessons look like and what you can expect of me as a teacher.

However, Preply suggests using their built-in agenda to have a successful trial lesson. This feature got me just a little bit nervous.

I decided to follow some of their steps, but make it my own, so I feel comfortable teaching it. As I was wondering what to do during the first class, I searched for inspiration online and found a perfect video that dispelled all my doubts.

First of all, I was doubtful of the Preply courses and wasn’t sure whether they were optional or I could refer to them from time to time. Martin Sketchley from ELT Experiences discusses this point with his student during the trial lesson. He says that even though there is a library of resources available, he likes to use his materials because they are more complete and aligned for students. I felt relieved and decided to follow Martin’s lesson structure and some of his insightful questions and information about the platform and creating the perfect English course. I adapted it to my very first student (level A2/B1).

Below you can see my idea of the first class with a demo lesson on question word order and question intonation.

TimeProcedure
5 mins1. Welcome the student.
2. Share your screen and make sure that she can see it.
3. Discuss the lesson objectives.
8 mins1. Show questions with missing words.
2. Student fills in the gaps with the missing verbs.
3. Discuss the answers to the questions and get to know your student.
7 mins1. Show a variety of topics, e.g. family, studies, profession, hobbies, etc.
2. Student chooses topics and asks the teacher about anything she wants.
3 mins1. Discussion feedback. Discuss the strengths and areas for improvement based on speaking.
5 mins1. Discuss the Preply classroom and Preply tools.
2. Ask if the student is familiar with all the tools.
3. Talk about your favourite platforms and how you generally teach (the videoconference platform, sharing materials, homework, etc.)
7 mins1. Discuss the placement test and the course focus.
15 mins1. Demo lesson: Grammar – question word order and intonation.
2. Show different ways in which you can return questions. Ask the questions and discuss the answers. Give the student opportunity to use return questions prompts.
3. Mention that one of the ways to return questions is by changing intonation, e.g. Where are you from? – Where are you from?
4. Show more questions and identify words that carry information.
5. Listen and check the answers.
6. Model and drill question intonation.
7. Explain that in English, unlike in Polish or Spanish, questions are never made by intonation, e.g. You are going with us?
8. Go over some questions and elicit the word order in each. Put the words in the table under correct headings.
9. Look at the sentences and discuss which ones are correct and which ones are incorrect. Correct the mistakes.
10. Answer the questions from the exercise.
11. Error correction and feedback.
10 mins1. Lesson feedback. Discuss what the student liked about the lesson.
2. Talk about the future class expectations and what she would like to learn.
3. Schedule the future lesson.

I supported my lesson plan with a simple yet aesthetically pleasing presentation. If you want to see my presentation, you can download it for free at the end of the post.

2. During the class

I entered the classroom before the lesson to see how all of the Preply tools work. I had no issues before the class, so I decided to spend the rest of the time relaxing. The class started on time without any hiccups. We made small talk to break the ice and I decided to continue with my presentation. That’s when the problems began.

On any other videoconference platform, it is possible to choose an application that you want to share. This option was available to me before the class. During the lesson, I was only left with sharing my entire screen. It surprised me, but I decided to do that instead. Another thing I realised was that share the sound button seems to appear and disappear whenever it pleases. It was there when I was playing around before the class, but it conveniently disappeared during the lesson. Luckily, we didn’t do listening, so I decided to model and drill pronunciation myself.

Obviously, I was worried about not following the Preply recommended courses, but as it turned out it worked in my favour. The student has tried other tutors before and said that she’s done many of the courses with them and was pleasantly surprised that I came prepared. She said that it looks more professional and it made her feel that I thought about her before the lesson.

The class continued without any issues. We liked each other, and we booked another class next week! In fact, I was able to schedule it for my student, as accidentally she paid for four hours of classes with me. This was done in the last five minutes. In fact, she was surprised when I told her that it was time to finish because we had a great time talking and getting to know each other.

Class booking is very simple and if you use a Google Calendar, all your other commitments get immediately applied, so Preply students can’t take that spot. I used to use the Outlook Calendar before because it was connected to my laptop. Now all my classes are synchronised with the Google Calendar and the Preply Calendar. It’s just much easier.

3. After the class

The class was a success. I got a new student who I enjoyed spending time with, and I think that we can develop a nice long-term relationship. However, I tend to be a little bit critical of myself and my teaching, so here we go.

First of all, I overplanned. I guess it’s better than underplanning. I will keep my presentation as it is and will reuse it with some of my future students. I think that one day, I may have a student who isn’t as talkative and we may be able to go through the whole demo lesson without any delays.

Another important thing is that for the first time in my teaching career I have Polish students. I’m a native Polish speaker and I decided that I won’t be using it in class, unless necessary. I think that the second I show that we can communicate in Polish, this will be the go-to language, and this isn’t the point of this class. This particular student enjoyed this aspect because it felt more natural for her to communicate in English than in Polish, and we want to keep it this way!

I may be using the Preply recommended courses with some students, but definitely not with all of them. This student enjoyed the personal touch and thought that it showed professionalism. Of course, we don’t always have to use presentations as the main way of delivering information. I’ve been using presentations for a while now and I think that it’s a much more structured way of explaining certain things, for example, grammar. Additionally, some students have been on Preply for some time now and have completed some of the courses. By using your materials, you can make sure that everything they learn is taught in a new way. This student also gave me a lot of creative freedom and said that she’s happy to follow my materials and wants to learn following my methodology.

So that’s my experience using the Preply platform. So far, I’m happy with it because I’ve never been able to get that many students in such a short time. I still have a long way to fully understand all the features, but I’m sure that it’s a matter of time before I’m comfortable with it.

Have you tried Preply before? If so, what was your first experience like? If not, would you like to try it?