Cambly vs italki: Which is Best for English Teachers? (2021)

image that says cambly vs italki

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Today, we’re going to settle things once and for all…

It’s time for a Cambly vs italki showdown.

Which platform is best for ESL teachers?

Which pays more? Which is more flexible? And which is easier to start?

Enough chit-chat. Let’s dive in.

Cambly vs iTalki Quick Comparison

table comparing cambly vs italki

iTalki vs Cambly: The Ultimate Showdown

Cambly and italki offer similar services connecting ESL teachers and English-learning students. 

Both platforms are great for teachers looking for a flexible schedule, and their low barrier to entry is perfect for ESL teachers without TEFL education, teaching experience, or even native speaking abilities.

Choosing between the two depends on what you’re personally looking for as a teacher. 

To help you decide, let’s break down how each platform works.

Pay

Let’s start with the most important part, right? 

What you’ll be getting paid.

How much do you get paid on Cambly?

Cambly pays ESL teachers a fixed rate, which is $0.17/min for adults (averages about $10.00/hr), and $0.20/min for kids (averages to about $12.00/hr).

With Cambly, you don’t have the freedom of choosing your own pay rate. But in many cases, there are advantages to a fixed rate. 

For one, you don’t have to worry about playing a part in the popularity contest of other platforms that do allow you to choose your rate. Oftentimes these popularity contests lead to teachers lowballing their prices to gain more students.

How much do you make on italki?

iTalki lets their teachers choose their own pay rate, and the platform takes a 15% cut.

There are two options for italki teachers:
1. Community Tutors (no requirements)
2. Professional Teachers (requires teaching education and experience)

It goes without saying that Professional Teachers can demand higher rates than Community Tutors. 

According to italki, Community Tutors make anywhere between $5 and $80 per lesson, while Professional Teachers make anywhere between $10 and $80 per lesson.

italki pay chart screenshot from website

This goes to show that as a Community Tutor, it’s still totally possible to make as much (or more) than a Professional Teacher. If you attract affluent students, you can potentially earn a ton more than Cambly’s $10 to $12 per hour fixed rate.

Teaching Styles and Lesson Content

This is a slight difference between the platforms, since Cambly has only one teaching option, and italki has two.

Teaching on Cambly

Cambly has one teaching option. To teach English with Cambly, you do not need to have any experience or teaching certificates. You don’t even need to be a native English speaker. All you need is English proficiency, and you’re good to go.

Cambly lessons are taught through a conversational style. You simply chat with students about whatever you (or the student) would like to talk about. It’s more for students who are just looking for real-world practice rather than formal lessons.

Awesome guides to read next:
💰 How to get paid for casual English conversations
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🇲🇽 Best sites to teach English online to Mexican students
🇪🇸 5 companies to teach English online to Spanish students

Teaching on italki

iTalki teaches over 150 languages and has two different teaching options: Community Tutor and Professional Teacher.

The Community Tutor option is very similar to Cambly’s teaching style, which is why italki is such a good Cambly alternative. You can teach through conversation, or work on whatever the student wants to work on. You don’t need any sort of special training or experience to be a Community Tutor. 

But what differs with italki is they also have the Professional Teacher option.

A Professional Teacher on italki can choose to teach through a conversational style, or they can teach using a pre-designed curriculum. Professional Tutors often make more than Community Tutors because students are willing to pay more for a teacher who has teaching credentials.

To become a Professional Teacher, you have to meet these requirements:
✅ TEFL teaching certificate or teaching license (Here’s the course I took and loved — grab their free brochure).
✅ Proven experience at a language-teaching institution (they do not specify how much experience)

Check out italki’s FAQ page for the nitty-gritty requirement details. 

So, if you’re certified to teach English and have some experience under your belt, italki might be a better option than Cambly — who pays you the same regardless of your qualifications.

Best of all, aspiring English teachers can start as a Community Tutor to test the waters. If you discover you love teaching English (or any of their 150+ languages), you can then get licensed and upgrade to a Professional Teacher at any time.

guy teaching english online

How to Book Lessons

Both platforms work similarly in regards to scheduling, but there are a few key differences that may help you decide which is the best fit for you. 

Booking lessons on Cambly

Cambly has two booking options:
#1.)
Log on when you want to start working, then receive random calls from students who are currently looking for a lesson. This is a great way to meet a lot of new students.
#2.) Use your profile and introductory video to attract students to book lessons ahead of time.

Either way, if students enjoy learning with you specifically, they can choose to become one of your “Regulars”. 

This is super helpful if students are trying to learn English with a specific accent that you happen to have, or if they just want to stick with someone who is following their progress. 

You don’t necessarily have to be the best tutor on Cambly to gain loyal students. Oftentimes, students don’t care about who is the smartest tutor — they’d rather have a “good enough” tutor that’s fun to chat with.

This pre-booking option is also great for Cambly Organizations, which is specifically for employers who require their employees to learn English through Cambly. Normally, these employers look for teachers with experience in their industry. 

Booking lessons on italki

Most italki students book tutors ahead of time, but they also have an option for log-in-and-learn lessons.

Students can find you among a list of other tutors. When choosing a tutor, they’ll check out your profile, which includes personal information, what languages you speak, and your intro video (similarly to Cambly).

However, italki also has an option they call an “Instant Lesson”, where a student can simply log on to italki when they want to take a lesson, scroll through tutors or teachers who are currently available, and book a lesson. 

Application Process

Unlike some English teaching platforms, Cambly and italki both have fairly simple application processes.

Cambly Application Process

screenshot of cambly tutor application page

Cambly’s application process is quick and easy.

To apply to be a Cambly teacher, you need to:

✅ Create an account
✅ Fill out your profile
✅ Answer a few questions about yourself
✅ Take a connection test to prove your English fluency and computer specs.

The entire process usually takes between one and four days. 

To apply to become a Cambly tutor, you can click here.

iTalki Application Process

screenshot of italki teacher application page
CAPTION: Some to-do list items before applying to italki

iTalki’s process takes a little bit longer than Cambly.

It all starts on their application page

There, they will ask you for some information and credentials (if you choose the Professional Teacher option). After submitting, they’ll notify you of approval within 10 business days.

Next comes the onboarding process, which takes another 10 calendar days.

The onboarding process includes:

✅ Uploading your identity documents
✅ Watching their teacher success videos
✅ Answering a quiz
✅ Booking a group video call with italki Teacher Services
✅ Attending the video call

After your call, italki will make their decision within 3 business days. If approved, you’re all set to start teaching.

It sounds a bit intimidating, but it’s pretty straightforward if you follow their application tips

Cancellation Policies

It happens. Sometimes you have to cancel pre-booked lessons, or you might have to leave in the middle of a lesson.

Cambly and italki have slightly different ways of handling these situations, so let’s check them out.

Cambly’s Cancellation Policy

Cambly requires 12 hours’ notice to cancel a class. If you miss or cancel too many lessons last-minute, they may remove your ability to take on new “random lessons”, limiting you to your Regulars.

That said, they are pretty understanding if you have a rare, one-off emergency and need to cancel. 

iTalki’s Cancellation Policy

iTalki is slightly less lenient than Cambly when it comes to cancellations. If you decide to teach on italki, you’ll want to avoid this situation from happening too many times.

iTalki has a 24-hour cancellation limit, which is stricter than Cambly’s 12-hour window. If you cancel or reschedule within 24 hours of the lesson time, you may receive a mark on your attendance record. If you get too many, they’ll boot you off the platform.

But that outcome is very rare. As long as last-minute cancellations aren’t often, you should have no problem!

Is Cambly teaching worth it?

Cambly is worth it for new English teachers who prefer casual chats over formal lessons. It’s also extremely flexible, allowing you to log in whenever you want to earn some extra cash.

Is Cambly the best English teaching platform out there?

Probably not. But it is a platform with one of the lowest bars to entry. And is especially attractive for people without a TEFL certification, teaching experience, or even native English skills. 

If you’re still not convinced, check out these other awesome apps similar to Cambly.

And before you start teaching with Cambly, watch this quick video to avoid making rookie mistakes:

Is italki worth it?

iTalki is great in that it offers opportunities for inexperienced and experienced teachers alike. You can test out the waters as a tutor, and if you like it, transition into a Professional Teacher. And if you attract affluent students, you can potentially skyrocket your hourly rate.

That said, you’re not guaranteed to attract high-paying students. And as with Cambly, the easiest way to succeed is to win repeat business. So the more you sharpen your teaching skills, the more students will keep coming back for more. 

iTalki has a slight learning curve. To get up and running faster and avoid costly roadblocks, give this video a quick watch. This teacher has been at it for a year, and she shares what she wishes she would’ve known when first starting:

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