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11 Apps To Use In Your ESL Classroom

June 8, 2012 - Chris Backe

If you’re carrying a iPhone or iPod Touch in your pocket, there are probably more than a few apps on it already. There’s more than a few apps out that can make your life in the classroom a little easier:

Stopwatch (free, iTunes): a simple, straightforward app that’s easy enough for the first-graders to use. Since it is such a simple app, there’s plenty of versions out there – the one I use lacks a countdown, but then again you could always just count up.

MindRelax Lite: (free, iTunes): for those breaks between classes. Naturespace promises the same thing – relaxation through peaceful music.

QuickOffice ($14.99, iTunes, pictured above) or GoodReader ($4.99 , iTunes) – if your students submit computer files instead of hard copies, the iPhone or iPad comes in really handy for reading them. The former makes editing files simple, and both work fine with the Microsoft Office file formats. GoodReader manages just about any file format you have, from PDF to TXT. If you do more typing than reading, try iA Writer ($0.99, iTunes). The keyboard has an additional row of commonly used punctuation keys along with left and right arrow keys.

Hancom Office Viewer (free, iTunes) – because those darned .HWP files your co-teacher sent you aren’t normally usable on your home computer. They can be, if you like – but this at least lets you view them on your mobile devices. If you need to edit them as well, the full program ($9.99, iTunes) also works with Microsoft Office files and has many 5-star reviews.

What If? (free, iTunes) – for your more advanced students or adults at the conversation level, plenty of things to get a non-scripted discussion going. While the app is typically safe for kids, be sure to screen anything you use in class.

Phrase Party ($1.99 version, free version with 2 of 13 categories) – if you ever played Catch Phrase, this will look very familiar. Best used with adults or high-level students. If you spring for the full version, you can pick and choose which categories get used – good thing, too, since some of the sayings and cultural references will go right over their head.

SayHi Translate: ($0.99 , iTunes): what’s that, you say? You hate typing your queries into Google Translate? Just talk into the mic with this app. Ensure your device has a mic, of course, and get it connected to the internet if necessary. It translates from English to Korean and back, all using your voice or the standard keyboard.

HEdictionary English Korean HD FREE: (free, iTunes): while it’s for the iPad only, only one app is needed to access the built-in dictionary along with the online dictionaries of Nate, WordReference, etc. A few games are built in as well.

For your iPhone or iPod Touch, a couple other apps – ‘Korean English Dictionary’ (above, free, iTunes) or ‘English Korean Dictionary’ by BravoLang (free, iTunes) might work better for you.

Cut the Rope: Experiments HD (iPad version, iPhone / iPod Touch version) – the follow-up game to the hit doesn’t usually change the formula much, and this one is no exception. What makes it worthy on this list is that it’s A: not Angry Birds, B: requires critical thinking, and C: comes in English and Korean if there’s a language barrier.

English teachers: what apps do you use in your classrooms?

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