Duolingo vs. Pimsleur vs. Verbling vs. italki: Language Learning Services Compared
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Duolingo vs. Pimsleur vs. Verbling vs. italki: Language Learning Services Compared

Duolingo is a good choice who want totally free options for learning a language. Pimsleur will work for people who want to mostly just listen to lessons while driving or doing something else. Verbling is for those who want to try a live video teacher out first at a cheaper rate. The iTalki service will work well for those who just want to sign up with a service quickly with little hassle.
Covered in this report
Duolingo — Best Features
Complete functionality even with free versions.
Choose time level commitment between 5 and 20 minutes per day.
Best for: Those looking for a free option to learn a language quickly.
Pimsleur — Best Features
Same system used by U.S. government agencies for 50 years.
Unique language choices available such as two different types of Armenian.
Best for: Language learners who want to learn in awkward situations such as driving or exercising.
Verbling — Best Features
Real, live 5-star teachers available.
Cheaper trials of 30 minutes available to test out teachers.
Best for: Learners who would like to get a cheaper preview before going through a full course.
italki — Best Features
Community of over 2 million people learning languages.
Intuitive site design where you can see numbers of teachers per language.
Best for: Those who would also like support from a community while learning.

Learning languages can be tough on your own. Fortunately, it’s now possible to get some help when it comes to gaining fluency in the language of your choice. Here are four options you can choose from, as well as a side by side comparison of their relative merits.



Duolingo is a service that works for both desktop and mobile. It has many connections to social media if you want to announce how you’re doing. You learn through exercises both audio, visual, and more basic word exercises.


  • Wide Compatibility-You can use this tool with Android, iOS, and various web browsers including Chrome. You can get an extension for Chrome, for example.
  • Choose Your Time Commitment-You can choose between “Casual” which is 5 minutes per day, and go all the way up to “insane” which is 20 minutes per day. This way you can get a sense of how quickly you want to learn with every lesson.
  • Placement Test-You can take a quick placement test to pass out of some of the language course if you already know some of the language. You can also always go back to these courses at any time, however.



Pimsleur recommends that you try to learn over the course of 30 minutes per day. The site claims that you can develop a near-native accent on 30 minutes per day. The Pimsleur parent company has been active for 50 years from Dr. Pimsleur.


  • Google Trusted Store-This means that Google lends up to $1000 of protection to the site, as well as helping out with arbitration.
  • Seasonal Sales for up to 40% Off-You do have to put the code in in order to receive this benefit during checkout.
  • Free Lesson-If you click on the free lesson link in the top right corner of the main site, you can select your language, and try out the service.
  • Experienced System-The same system used by Pimsleur has been used by diplomats, corporations, U.S. government agencies and many others for 50 years.
  • Over 50 Languages Available-You can choose between Spanish, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, and many others. This includes even unusual options such as Twi or Ukranian, and two different types of Armenian, as well as ESL.



Verbling will appeal to those that want actual, physical teachers to help them learn rather than going with an application or an MP3. The service includes 38 languages, currently.


  • Live Video-You can learn no matter where you are in the world, all by connecting into the service and talking to a live, 5-star teacher who can help guide you into fluency in a new language.
  • Trials-Many teachers will give you a trial so you can see whether you like the particular teacher you’re looking into first. You can click on the teacher's link from the main site, and then simply click on “message” or “Book Lesson” next to the teacher you want to try. Trials of 30 minutes often cost $6.
  • Profile Information for Teachers-If you click on each teacher, you can also get full information about them, such as their current location, what languages they teach, how much they’ve taught on Verbling, their background, and even a video of them to help you see whether they would be a match.



The iTalki site also features live teachers for helping you learn languages. The site claims that they have teachers for more than 50 different languages. The total teachers number over 1000, with more than 2000 tutors.  


  • Easy to Use Site Interface-You can tell right from the main page how many teachers are available for each language, and you can click on any of these languages to go right to teachers.
  • Plenty of Languages-You can get teachers for Turkish, Hebrew, Serbian, Hindu, Chinese, German, French and others. Each section will tell you how many teachers and tutors are available currently in each field. The boxes appear to be sized based on general language popularity.
  • Easy Scheduling System-There’s a link in a red box for scheduling, and you can request a lesson with a teacher that will drain credits from your account after you buy them from the site. You get the credits back if the teacher doesn’t take the lesson, or if there’s some other issue.

Head to Head


Duolingo is free to use and has plenty of features even for free versions.

Pimsleur has costs that vary based on the language. For example, if you want to learn Icelandic, this is going to be $120 or so for the full course, which is 30 lessons. A CD from other places can be as much as $345 for the same material. You can also order one lesson set at a time for about $22 each for 5 lessons. You can play all of these from the company’s own free app.

The pricing for Verbling will depend on the teacher. Lessons in English, for example, often linger around $20 per hour.

The iTalki site is done through iTalki credits, which are known as ITC on the site. Each teacher can specify a different cost in ITC per hour. You can make a request for the teacher and the credits are only given to them after they do the lesson. Otherwise, the credits go back to you.


Duolingo is actually crowdsourced as well, which means that if you want, you can click “contribute to a course” in the courses section of the site to help develop a language course for others.

The Google Store rating is 4.8 out of 5 stars for Pimsleur. This is out of more than 700 reviews, with new reviews happening recently. The system seems to work through MP3 files that contain 5 lessons at a time.

Verbling lets you learn 38 languages, which is less than Pimsleur, but a bit more than Duolinguo. It features real teachers and live video interactions.

The iTalki site also offers more than 50 languages, making them comparable with Pimsleur when it comes to language choice. 

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