Verbling-Language Exchange Program

I've been looking for a way to connect my students to native English speakers so that they may practice their English.  I tried different ways to get exchanges: emailing Spanish teachers in the U.S., asking family members, friends, then I realized they could do it through the internet.  

I began looking at the different options available like Verbling.  

What it is:
A free web-based site where you can find a native speaker to practice the language you are interested in through a live video chat.

How it works:
It is fairly easy to set up an account. It takes a few seconds. You can sign-up using their easy registration feature. You then click on the Friends link and start looking for native speakers.  Next you click on the button Get partner and whoever is interested and has the language combination you have indicated connects with you and you can start chatting. They also give you the option to write texts and send messages to the people you become friends with. This is a good option so that you may set-up times to connect back with the same persons in the future. 

One neat feature is a timer that is set for every 10 minutes. This lets you switch languages and both partners get something valuable out of the exchange.

Verbling has also added Classes and Tutors.

For more information on Verbling:

Other Language Exchange Programs

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Student Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor

The Unemployment problem is the most important issue in my city, it´s true that it is very common in the world, but I think in Madrid is more detrimental. There is a lot of people that have had to travel to other countries to find a job. If you are young it´s very difficult because companies require that you have experience.

Now days if you have a job, you are always afraid of it´s stability. If you go to the unemployment office it´s not useful in finding a job. Usually the jobs that are available only offer you a temporal contract of six months or less. 
If you use the jobs websites there is a problem, because you receive a lot of publicity for courses or Masters programs which you don´t need.

Finally I think the government has to create good measures that can improve the job opportunities, then the people would be able to find a job.

Jose D.

Israeland Palestineneeds your attention

Dear Editor,

Everybody knows about Israel-Palestine conflict. Everybody has heard about it, but no one takes a minute to listen to it.  It’s incredible; we have gotten accustomed to hearing about attacks, murders and deaths of civilians. We have accepted that Israelis and Arabs are going to live faced forever.

In that region, just five hours away from us, to be alive or dead is sometimes a matter of luck, and so we see it as habitual. Death of an Israeli or death of a Palestine is no longer news. In contrast, if it is the death of a European, life freezes.


Dear Editor:

A few days ago a Brazilian comedy tv show was on the news because of a bad joke. In this case, people had to enter into the lift, but suddenly it stopped and lights were turned off. When lights were turned on again, they realised that a strange little girl, who looked like a ghost, she had just appeared into the lift. What were people’s reactions? Everyone wanted to get out of immediately. Most of them suffered anxiety attacks so severe that they needed medical attention.

These days we know of the nurse’s death, the one who attended Kate Middleton during the time she stayed at King Edward VII´s Hospital in London. Again, an Australian radio show made an innocent prank just to have fun. But the result was much different from what they could have ever expected it. I understand, this radio programme hasn’t got the whole responsibility for this terrible loss, but they have been the last straw.

For these reasons, newspapers, television and radio shows should understand that not everything is ok when it comes to people’s entertainment. There must be an ethical code and laws, which provide common sense to programmes that try to make this type of humour. Sometimes they could end in bad circumstances like these ones.


Elena H.
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English Language Exchange - Intercambios

Being able to go to an English speaking country to practice your language skills is the best option for your students hands down.  However, that may not always be possible.  The next best thing is to do a language exchange.  I did a language exchange when I was trying to improve my Spanish skills and it was excellent. I met my exchange partner for an hour. We alternated between Spanish and English between 10 to 15. We spoke about current events, our social life and more. 

There are several websites that offer language exchanges, but this one I found does a fine job and it is very easy to use. is an excellent site that allows you to search for pen pals all over the world.  You can narrow down your search by selecting the language, the country and the way you want to interact with your pen pal.  You can choose from people who are seeking to text chat to those who can do voice chat through Skype or other services.  You may also filter by age, gender and last log-in date (this way you are sure to get only active links).   Also you can choose to do an exchange as a classroom. This would be great if you want to do the exchange for your whole class.   If you are interested in doing a live exchange you are able to filter for the city you live in.

If you are not ready to create an account you can enter their live chat as a guest and wait for a member to contact you. I tried it and got contacted within a few minutes by someone from Hungary it was quite interesting. The site has gotten good reviews from Yahoo Magazine, PC World and the Wallstreet Journal.  It also has some free features and some premium features for a fee.

Other Language Exchange Programs
Language For Exchange
The Mixxer

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Making an Impact Vocabulary

Quizlet Games

(n.) people, usually outside of government, who actively promote a political party, philosophy, or issue they care about
(adj.) showing little or no emotion or animation
be aware of
(v.) know about
(n.) facts and conditions that affect a situation
(n.) someone who likes to fantasize and dream of a different or imaginary life
(n.) all the people living at the same time or of approximately the same age
(n.) topics or problems under discussion
(adj.) very eager to do or achieve
(n.) a person with unusual powers of foresight
business as usual
Things are happening as they usually do, even though there is a reason why you might expect them not to happen normally
do your part
Contribute a fair amount of the work, share the responsibility for accomplishing something
hack into
Break into a computer system
public service announcements
(PSA) a message created to educate people about an issue
raise awareness
To help people know that something exists and is important
The method or process of solving a problem.
speak out against
To state or show publicly that you oppose something.
think outside the box
To think of new, different, or unusual ways of doing something, especially in business
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Personalities Vocabulary

Quizlet Games

(adj.) Inclined to be bold and confident
(adj.) Strongly motivated to succeed
(adj.) Taking life easy; not stressful
(adj.) Contemplating one's own thoughts and feelings; inward looking
(adj.) Helping to grow or develop with care
(adj.) Expecting the best; with a positive outlook
(adj.) Not disturbed by strife or turmoil; serene
(adj.) Suggesting taste, ease, and wealth
(adj.) Characterized by order and planning
(adj.) Not having expected actions
control freak
(adj.) Someone with a compulsive desire to exert control over situations and people
early riser
(adj.) Someone who gets up early in the morning
(adj.) Someone who is likely to be successful because they are very determined and have a lot of energy
(adj.) Person who does things too quickly without thinking
(adj.) Someone who always works hard to be the best at everything
(adj.) Someone who is easily taken advantage of
risk taker
(adj.) Someone who likes to take risks
(adj.) A person who is able to work on their own and make their own decisions without needing anyone to tell them what to do
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Vocabulary - Unit 2

Practice this vocabulary with Quizlet Games

(adv.) without giving a name
at stake
(adj.) at risk; in danger
(adv.) in a mechanical manner; gets done without a person's deliberate control
(n.) something that aids or promotes well-being; (v.) to aid or promote well-being
(n.) an instrumental invented for a particular purpose
(n.) a visual representation of something; (v.) to show
(v.) to fix in a surrounding mass
(n.) the condition of being concealed or hidden
(n.) a distinct selection of music from a recording or a compact disc; (v.) observe or plot the moving path of something; (n.) the act of participating in an athletic competition involving running; (n.) the path runners run on; (v.) the act of leaving footprints; (n.) footprints
(adj.) one of a kind; unequaled; unusual; found only in a given class, place, or situation
A state in which there is a compulsive or chronic need, as for a drug
lacking human emotion or warmth
information overload
A condition in which information inflow exceeds an individual's processing capacity
A relationship in which the effect of one factor (such as biology) depends on another factor (such as environment).
feeling free and able to behave as you like
An operating system feature that allows more than one application to run at a time.
further the progress of (something, esp. a cause, venture, or aim); support or actively encourage
recipe for disaster
situation that will lead to serious trouble
(adj.) characterized by or calling for continued sitting; remaining in one place
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Unit 1 - Simple Past vs. Present Perfect

Grammar- Simple past and present perfect

The simple past is used to talk about actions that began and ended in the past.

My mother was a teacher for five years.

The present perfect is used for actions that began in the past and continue in the present.

My mother has been a teacher for ten years.  For the past five years she has worked as a primary teacher.

Additional Resources

 Present Perfect

English Grammar Online
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Unit 4 English - Modal and phrasal modals

Modals and phrasal modals

Could is used to say that someone was able to do something in general at any time:

She could read music by the time she was three.

Was/were able to is used to indicate someone managed to do something once:

He was able to finish the race in under an hour.

May and can  are often used to give permission.  There is no past form of may for giving permission.

You may use your dictionaries to complete this exercise.
You may / You're allowed to park here after 7 pm

Must is used to express an obligation or sense of urgency.  Have to is more commonly used to express necessity, especially when spekain in the past tense.

It's not safe here.  Everyone must leave the building immediately.
At the lecture last night, I had to show my identification card to enter the building.

Should have is used to show regret about the past:
I should've gone to Hawaii when I had the chance.

Additional Resources

Great Powerpoint Presentation on Modals and phrasal modals

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Unit 3 English - Adverb Clauses

Adverb clauses of purpose, contrast and time

Adverb clauses answer the questions, why, when, how, or where something happened:

I left the party early because I wasn't feeling well.

Adverb clauses with because, since, and so that answer the question why:

I can't go out tonight because / since I have a lot of homework.

Adverb clauses with when or whenever answer the question when:

When (ever) I have to speak in front of the class, I get nervous.

Adverb clauses with though, although, and even though are used to introduce a different or surprising idea:

Although / Even though / Though the cell phone was expensive, I bought it anyway.

Additional Resources

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Unit 2 English - Passive Voice

In a passive sentence, the object of an active sentence becomes the subject:

ACTIVE: Willem Kolff invented the fist artificial heart.

PASSIVE: The first artificial heart was invented by Willem Kolff.

Tense Active Voice Passive Voice
Present People in Morocco speak Arabic and French. Arabic and French are spoken in Morocco.
Present continuous They're building a new library on Campus,

A new library is being built on campus.
Present perfect the airlines have cancelled all flights due to bad weather. All flights have been cancelled due to bad weather.

Past The police arrested twenty people at yesterday's demonstration.

Twenty people were arrested at yesterday's demonstration.
Future with will The embassy will mail your visa to you.

Your visa will be mailed to you.

Additional Resources:

English Club - Passive Voice

English Page - Passive Voice

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