Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

Just about everyone out there has heard of pumpkin pie, but have you ever tasted one?  It is a super delicious treat.   It has almost the consistency of quark cake or cheesecake, but with a filling based on pumpkin or squash rather than cheese.  The spices used are like those used in a lot of German Christmas cookies and recipes:  cinnamon, cloves and ginger.  For my English students who meet me every week in class, it's no problem to try pumpkin pie, I'll bake you one!  But for those of you online, I'm afraid you might just have to do it yourself. But how do you prepare the pumpkin?  Never fear, the internet is here!  Here are the instructions for making pumpkin pie from scratch.  In addition, you can find the recipe I always use for pumpkin pie here.  I don't use pumpkin from a can, though, I prepare my fresh pumpkin in the oven as described on the website above. 

Have you ever had pumpkin pie?  How did it taste?
Have you ever baked pumpkin pie? Was it easy or difficult?  If no, would you like to?  Why or why not?
What other dishes do you know with squash or pumpkin?

Please answer the questions above and email them to us at  If you are a student with Virtualingua, you can send us this as one of your tutored exercises.  If you aren't learning with us yet, send us your answers and test our professional tutoring for free!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

New York City and the eastern United States were hit hard by hurricane Sandy this week.  What exactly happened?  Please do some research online and summarize what happened on the East Coast of the United States.  The New York Times is an excellent place to start your research.  What other sources did you find?

Send your summary to
If you are already a student with us, you can complete this writing exercise as a tutored exercise.  If you're not a student with us yet, test our tutoring for free!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gross National Happiness?

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is measured in Bhutan, much like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is measured in other countries.  GNH is a way of measuring the population's quality of life and progress in a more human way than the economic measure GDP.

Have you ever heard of GNH?  What do you know about the country of Bhutan?

Here are a couple of articles to get you started:,8599,1016266,00.html

Do some research and learn more about this interesting little country!

1.  Define GNH and GDP.
2.  Find out some basic facts about Bhutan (location, population, geography, history, etc.)  Write a short description of the country.
3.  Do you think that GNH is an important indicator?  What about GDP?  Should they be used in combination with each other?

Write your answers to tasks 1-3 and send them to us at
If you are already a Virtualingua student, you can turn in this exercise as a tutored exercise.  If not, send it to us anyway and test our tutoring!  You will receive a reply and corrections from a live, native English speaking tutor along with learning tips.  Test us today!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Retail therapy!

Feeling tired, frustrated or irritated?  Maybe you could use a session of retail therapy!  "Retail therapy" is when you go shopping to make yourself feel better or when you buy yourself a little treat and it improves your mood.  I can speak for myself and say that retail therapy really does help my mood sometimes.  I'm not a shopaholic, but if I feel like all of the things in my closet are drab, old and not very fashionable, it can make me feel a little better and more confident to go out and get a snappy new item of clothing.

A little research has even been done on this topic.  Read the article below and complete the tasks following the article.  Send your answers to us at to test our tutoring for free or as a tutored exercise as part of your Virtualingua English course.

Article about retail therapy:


1.  List as many items of clothing as you can think of.
2.  What are some things other than clothing that someone might buy to get into a better mood?
3.  How did the researchers conduct the survey explained in the article?
4.  Do you think the results of the survey are very reliable?  Why or why not?
5.  Do you or have you ever gone shopping or bought yourself a treat in order to improve your mood?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reality TV

At home in Germany, I don't have a television, so I'm not exposed to much of the craziness that you can see on TV.  Right now I'm on vacation in the United States and am quite shocked and amazed at the variety and ridiculousness of reality programs.  There are shows about everything:  polygamists, gypsies, housewives, people with big families, teen moms, and just about anything else you can imagine.  What's your opinion on reality TV?  Do you love it?  Do you hate it?  Is it a guilty pleasure of yours or would you never watch it?
Let us know!  Send your answer to us (write as much as you need to!) at

Also check out this reading exercise and test on the same topic:

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Bad things people do

Hello English Learners!

What are sins and how bad are they?  Have you ever done anything really terrible?  Or are you always completely correct in your actions?  By following the link below, you will come to an American radio show called "This American Life".  Listen to the episode we linked to below entitled "Mortal Vs. Venial" and complete the tasks below.  When you finish, email us your answers at


Visit the This American Life website and listen to the show "Mortal Vs. Venial" here:

1.  What is mortal sin and what is venial sin as described in the show?
2.  Please summarize the three acts.
3.  Have you ever done anything terrible that could be considered a "sin"?  Did it have any effects on your life or did you learn an important lesson from it?