The Internet has revolutionised not only the way people communicate but also the way we learn foreign languages such as English.
Gone are those days when learning how to speak this language in a non-speaking country was quite challenging. The only contact we had with English was through music, books or our teachers. There were like twenty-five, thirty students in my class so we did not have the chance to practice.
Nowadays everything is much easier and there are a lot of online alternatives to language classrooms to improve our oral skills. A long time ago Karen Schweitzer and I wrote about some online language learning communities we can join in to practice English with native speakers:
However, this year a new site, Verbling, has been launched. Verbling is a free live video service for chatting only available in English and Spanish at the moment, since it is in its beta test phase. Nevertheless, they will expand the possibilities soon.
Two of the great features of this new online language learning site, compared to other alternatives, is that it includes video and you can instantly connect to a partner. You do not need to spend time looking for a partner to practice since once you join the site, the system match you up to a parner taking into account your skill level and interests. Then you start chatting in one language around a topic for five minutes and halfway through the session a timer tells you to switch off to the other language. In this way both people get practice. All you need is a microphone, a webcam and an email address.
What is not so good about the site is that it does not include the option to disconnect the webcam just in case you do not want other people watch you. However, on the other hand, I think the webcam is a great option because it allows us to see the other person's reaction to our words, grasp new vocabulary easily and so on. And, finally, it would be great as well to have the possibility to choose your partner's gender and age.
The site is not meant for under 13.
More information about Verbling:
Más información sobre Verbling en español: