Websites to find the best Korean tutors online in 2023 - and the ones to avoid
Picking a Korean tutor online can prove daunting due to the overwhelming number of options. To make things easier for you, we've researched the websites that help you find the best Korean tutors. We've ranked the sites, showing you the ones to try, the ones to avoid, and explaining the differences between them.
You can read about our methodology and ranking criteria here. This article was fact checked by Don Pottinger on 20 December 2022.
The Best Online Korean Tutoring Platforms
#1 Best Overall: LanguaTalk
LanguaTalk is one of the most widely recommended platforms in the language learning industry. Why is this? Learn the pros and cons below.
- Gifted & reliable tutors. LanguaTalk thoroughly screens applicants, only accepting the top 10% of tutors. All tutors are from South Korea, though many live abroad.
- Finding the perfect tutor is easy. You can check reviews, live availability and pricing for each tutor. You can also use filters to instantly narrow down your options and see the best online Korean tutors given your budget, availability and needs.
- Offers a free trial. Most teachers offer a 30-minute free trial session, so you can meet them before you decide whether to take lessons.
- It's fair and good value. LanguaTalk charges lower commission than most other platforms. This helps attract the best tutors and keeps prices down.
- It's transparent. Unlike other platforms, everything is transparent, including reviews and pricing. For example, payment processing fees are included in prices shown on profiles, so there are no bad surprises at checkout.
- It's flexible. You can pay for lessons one at a time and book whatever slots fit your schedule. You can easily move your balance to another tutor, or get a refund on unused lessons (within 30 days of purchase). Most other sites do not allow refunds and require you to get a subscription or buy lessons in bulk.
- It's easy to use. Booking, rescheduling and cancelling lessons is simple. Available slots automatically show in your time zone.
- Occasionally, tutors might tweak their availability e.g if they move to another country (they're remote workers, so they often live abroad. Though the same applies on any online tutoring website).
- The most popular teachers get booked up quickly, so you may need to book a week or two in advance to secure the time slots you want.
Find the best online Korean tutor for your needs on LanguaTalk. Then book a free 30-minute trial session.
Cost: Prices are set by the tutors, so rates vary widely, ranging from $11 to $30 per hour (though 30-minute lessons are also possible).
Who it's ideal for: As the tutors tend to be adaptable and experienced, they're normally able to personalise lessons based on individual needs. So, irrespective of your age, level or needs, you should be able to find the best Korean tutor for you.
View Korean teachers on LanguaTalk and book a free 30-min trial session.
#2 Best for businesses: Verbling
Verbling was founded in 2011 and was acquired by Busuu in 2020. Despite offering some very good tutors, it hasn't gained as much popularity as some other platforms. Below, you can see its pros and cons.
- Experienced tutors. Verbling, like LanguaTalk, has some of the best online Korean tutors, due to its strict teaching standards compared to other platforms.
- Verbling has an Enterprise solution, so businesses can track the learning of their employees. This is helpful, though it should be noted that LanguaTalk and other platforms do still offer payments support for businesses.
- It's easy to use. We like the design more than most other sites. Booking is easy, the filters are useful when viewing tutors, and tutor profiles include helpful statistics such as lessons per student.
- It's not flexible. The company forces students and tutors to only learn through their calling tool, which has mixed reviews and only works on Google Chrome and Firefox. This may be particularly problematic if you want to learn on mobile. Other platforms allow you to use your video calling tool of choice. In addition, there is no option for 30-minute lessons, only 60-minutes.
- It's a little expensive. According to Verbling, the average online Korean tutor costs $30 per hour. This is around 33% more than the average price on LanguaTalk. We couldn't work out why Verbling is more expensive as both platforms tend to have highly experienced tutors.
- No refunds. Unlike LanguaTalk, you cannot get a refund on unused lessons.
#3 Best for number of tutors: iTalki
iTalki is one of the largest sites, having been founded way back in 2007 when there was less competition. As you'll see below, it's still a reasonable option but it does have some downsides.
- Big choice of teachers. It probably has the highest number of tutors of any platform. (However, both LanguaTalk and Verbling still have more than enough choice, and the tutors on those sites tend to be more experienced and qualified.)
- Prices can be cheap. If you already have an advanced level and are only looking for conversation practice, there are many informal 'tutors' with low prices. However, if you need structured lessons, you will be better off choosing an experienced tutor, and these are more common on the platforms mentioned above.
- Many tutors aren't reliable. iTalki allows people with little to no experience to teach, which means that compared to Verbling and LanguaTalk, there is a higher chance you'll end up with someone who is not the best tutor who is simply not reliable.
- Pricing isn't transparent. iTalki shows prices for 30-minute lessons to make it appear cheaper, despite the fact that most people need longer lessons. It also does not include payment processing fees in the prices shown on profiles, so you may get a bad surprise at checkout.
- Booking is not intuitive. When you want to make a booking, it is called a 'Lesson Request'. These are sometimes rejected by tutors. Other platforms expect tutors to show accurate availability so that students don't get messed around.
- No refunds. iTalki will not refund you on unused lesson credits. This is the same on all sites we researched except LanguaTalk.
Summary: The Best Online Korean Tutoring Services
- Best overall: LanguaTalk
- Best for businesses: Verbling
- Best for number of tutors: iTalki
View Korean tutors on LanguaTalk
Above we've explained the pros and cons of the top 3 websites to consider when looking for a Korean tutor online. There are some other big websites, and to balance our analysis, we'll show you the websites that ranked in our bottom 2 below...
Websites to avoid when looking for a Korean tutor online
Thanks to $50m of investment, Preply can advertise on Google for almost any search imaginable related to language learning. Unfortunately, this has not been good news for teachers, nor students.
Unlike LanguaTalk, Preply doesn't allow teachers to offer a 30-minute free trial session. Instead, learners pay for a first hour-long lesson, and Preply takes 100% of the fee (yes, you read that right!). There's a petition on Change.org against this practice, which is rightly seen as exploitative. After the first lesson, the commission goes down to 33%, which is still more than double what other platforms charge.
In addition, in June 2022, Preply switched to an inflexible monthly subscription model that requires students to use their purchased lessons within a month or lose them. Preply said this would help learners and tutors, but the many 1-star reviews on the company's TrustPilot profile would suggest otherwise.
Lastly, Preply seems to accept almost anyone to teach, despite claiming to focus on professional tutors. You can read a full review of Preply here.
The last platform to skip is Live Lingua. Live Lingua was founded in 2008 and its tech doesn't seem to have advanced much since then. Unlike modern platforms, Live Lingua does not show reviews for each tutor, nor can you view their live availability or watch a video of them. And it seems to exploit tutors.
We've been told by teachers that Live Lingua keeps 50% of the amount paid per lesson, with one tutor even claiming that Live Lingua only pays $5/h. This is despite the tutors being solely responsible for the lessons - the company does not provide lesson content. LanguaTalk, Verbling & iTalki charge less than 1/3 of Live Lingua's commission rate and allow teachers to set their own rates.
Live Lingua claims that it has "hand-picked, certified tutors", but why would the best Korean tutors work there when they could use platforms that don't rip them off and allow them to set their own rate? If you'd like to support tutors to earn a living and find someone talented, try booking a trial session on LanguaTalk instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find the best Korean tutor?
This depends on several factors: your availability, your budget, and your goals. On LanguaTalk, you can apply filters to instantly see Korean tutors who are likely to be suitable. For example, if you have a budget of $17 per lesson, and you're only available on Monday afternoon, you can use the filters to only show tutors who fit these criteria. And when you open their profiles, you can also see which levels and needs the tutors cover. This is helpful if, for example, you're a beginner or preparing for an exam as only certain tutors will be appropriate for you.
How does online Korean tutoring differ from face-to-face?
Folks who haven't taken lessons online before may assume that it will be completely different to learning face-to-face. In reality, if you take a decent online class, it will be almost the same as face-to-face. You'll be able to see your tutor and they'll use software that allows you to explore learning resources together. A 2021 study published in the Journal of English Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics showed that there was no significant difference in results between learners who had learnt a language online, compared to those who had studied face-to-face.
What criteria did you use to assess the Korean tutoring websites above?
Please see below for a detailed answer to this.
Methodology & Ranking Criteria
We analysed the 10 most popular platforms for online Korean tutors, including testing them within our team. We rated the websites on a variety of criteria to identify the best and worst providers. The criteria were as follows:
- Quality of tutors. Does the site have a good reputation for its tutors being talented and reliable? What qualifications are typically required?
- Free trial. Can you book a trial session to meet the tutor before committing to lessons? Tutors should have the choice whether to offer these for free or charge.
- Ease of assessing tutors. Can you easily assess tutors before booking? Features such as reviews for individual tutors, live availability calendars, video introductions, and clear pricing are helpful. In addition, are there filters to enable you to see tutors based on their budget, availability and needs? When there are lots of tutors, it can be a little overwhelming. The best platforms allow learners to easily narrow down the choice.
- Fairness. Certain platforms take a high percentage of tutors' earnings despite not providing lesson plans and materials. We believe platforms taking over 25% are not fair to tutors. These platforms also bad for students because the best tutors will work elsewhere. In addition, it pushes up prices as the commission is added onto the tutor's rate.
- Intuitive design. Is it easy to book, reschedule and cancel lessons?
- Transparency. Examples of lacking transparency include not showing reviews for individual tutors, hiding commission rates, and not including payment fees in the prices shown on tutor profiles (so you only find out the full cost at checkout).
- Flexibility. Does the platform allow you to pay one lesson at a time? Does it allow refunds?
One last thing: yes, we know it's cheeky to put LanguaTalk at #1. But we genuinely believe that if you compare each platform's pros and cons, you'll see that LanguaTalk stands out based on all of the criteria above. We created this piece to show learners the platforms that can be trusted and do things properly. We were fed up with reading bad advice on sites that are being paid to promote platforms that exploit tutors, don't assess applicants well and lack transparency.