Verbling is a language learning tool that helps users connect with native speakers in many languages all over the world. The application utilizes live video to give users a way to communicate directly. The interaction is intended to be a tradeoff. The first five minutes, the users will speak one user’s native language then switch to the other user’s native language for the last five minutes. Each user is exposed to the language they want to learn for an equal amount of time. Verbling gives users a quick way to start the conversation through suggested topics. The user selects beginner, intermediate or advanced topics (which will influence the difficulty of the conversation in terms of language learning). The user can rate their conversation with a “super-like” (two thumbs up), “like,” or “dislike.”
Verbling was founded in June of 2011. The application is designed to help users find ways to learn a language and improve fluency. The application has been mentioned on sites like KillerStartups.com however user reviews have been mixed. Many praised Verbling as an easy way to connect with a native speaker of a language. Others felt that the application offered mediocre features and wasn’t as user friendly as it could be.
Verbling is based entirely on live video chats. There are a number of other language learning tools on the web, however most lean more towards text-based tools. Many offer documentation, text chats and other similar tools. Verbling, on the other hand, allows the user to observe the spoken language while they hear it. The face to face interaction also encourages better fluency because the user must utilize the language in a practical, typical way.
The Verbling interface is clean and easy to understand. There is no clutter and the design stays modern throughout. That being said, Verbling doesn’t go out of its way to offer cutting edge visual elements or any fancy extras. The user is given an attractive but otherwise unremarkable space to interact through video chats. This isn’t really a flaw in the Verbling design because the user’s attention will remain on the conversation rather than what’s around it.
A new user can join the Verbling community by filling out the form on the homepage. The form asks for a first name, email address, password and which language the user speaks fluently as well as which language they wish to learn. The user is automatically logged in and can begin finding chat partners, updating their profile or exploring flashcards and topics. A blue Facebook button is also available on the homepage for users who prefer to connect using their social networking account.
Verbling offers its services to all users for free. There are no subscription fees and users can participate in as many chat sessions as they like. The site allows five minute chats, but includes a “+10” button for users who want to extend face time. The free access is a good way to encourage more users with different language backgrounds to join the Verbling community.
Verbling is a helpful tool for anyone learning a foreign language. The application might not be ideal as a primary learning resource, but it certainly fills the gap as a supplementary tool. Users can find others who speak the language they want to learn and participate in real conversations with real people. The application is simple to use and offers a valuable service to its users at a price that can’t get any better.