Sunday, 14 April 2013

Back to school with Verbling

Some time ago, I mentioned a site called Verbling, where students of Spanish could go for intercambios with Spanish speakers who are learning to speak English. 
I thought it was a great idea at the time, and it just got better. 

Now Verbling are offering online lessons. 
As with all things,there are pros and cons. 
First, the positives. There are a wealth of recorded lessons, not only for Spanish students,  but also for students of English, and in which you can see the actual format of the live lessons, and for free. 
The lessons are indexed by language, subject, and level of difficulty, and as well as by teacher, which might be important for some students. 
If you want to dive in, and right now, and for a look, go to

I've not taken part in any live lessons, but have dipped in and viewed a few of the recorded ones, which are free to view.
As you might expect, there's a fair but of meet and greet at the beginning of each lesson, as students introduce themselves. This can take up to ten minutes.
The level of fluency of the students varies enormously, some are very halting and hesitant, especially in the beginner lessons and some of the pronunciation, even in the intermediate lessons, will probably make you feel much better about your own efforts ;¬)

The lesson content, itself, is very wide ranging, from basic vocabulary, through discussions, on such subjects as 'telebasura' (junk TV), to one of my favourites, listening to music in Spanish.

There are a number of different teachers, and you can choose to follow an individual teacher's lessons. It's all about choosing the content and presentation which makes it easier to learn.
Do you find it easier to understand men, or women? Can you keep up with an enthusiastic native speaker, who is motivational, but speaks a little faster than you're used to?

The lessons are powered by Google hangouts, and so are primarily aimed at PC users, with webcams, as a plugin is required. Hopefully full integration with Android and Apple tablets will soon follow.

Ostensibly, Verbling lessons are free. You can register well in advance, to reserve a seat, but preference will always be given to 'Verbling Premium' users, so you might register early only to be denied a seat if the class limit is exceeded by Premium students.
I'm not sure what the limit is, but I've seen over 15 students in one lesson I viewed.
Verbling Premium is free for the first week, then $25 (US) per month thereafter, and Premium Members can book unlimited classes (I haven't seen any mention of the limit for non-Premium students)

All in all, it's a well-designed and executed addition to the burgeoning Spanish online learning market, and appears to have quite a lot of regular followers already.
I'd definitely recommend taking a look, to see if it suits you. Try out a few of the free lessons. If nothing else, there's plenty of practice to be had, listening to the different voices of the Teachers, and it's educational too ;¬)

I'd also like to say a big 'Gracias' to a very helpful chap from Zagreb who , in SecondLife, goes by the name of Fofo Morales, who pointed out the following links is a site where you can view Spanish TV series online, among other things, and which is site full of podcasts, on a wide variety of subjects, from science, to culture, to comedy, to food and even sport and music. Excellent for even more audio comprehension practice.