Today we have a guest post by Ethan Miller. Ethan is a private ESL tutor who has taught over a dozen classes. It’s an area I know absolutely nothing about, so I’m thankful to Ethan for providing the recommendations below.
English is known as a universal language of communication and many non-native students in the United States are learning it today. If you are one of them, or if you teach ESL students, then this post is for you.
Ever tried learning a new language? It’s undeniably hard. If you too have sailed those waters, what I’m saying will make sense.
There was a time when teachers were burdened with the task of coming up with interactive ways to make learning English simple for their students. Today, the pressure on teachers has eased as there are many online tools that aid teachers to do their jobs more effectively.
While there are many tools that you can use, which ones are right for you? How much will they cost? Are they easy to use? Do they have good exercises?
To answer these questions, I have compiled a list of eight English language learning tools that are easy to use, interactive, and free to download on both Android and iOS.
Here we go!
Memrise is a free language learning tool that offers courses that are user-generated, i.e., by teachers who are experts in teaching the language. The app is visually appealing and students can select whichever language they are comfortable interacting in (French, Spanish, German, etc.) and enroll for the courses that they want to learn.
Memrise provides many mnemonic methods to learn and remember new words, the best of them being the Elaborative Encoding technique. You can even submit your own methods in order to keep the content fresh and share your ideas with other learners.
You get to review each lesson multiple times after completion through a feature called spaced repetition testing. As an incentive to motivate learners, points are awarded for learning new words and completing each level.
Busuu is primarily a free language app and users can access the lessons, vocabulary, and practice sections by creating an account. The lessons are designed for beginners, elementary, and intermediate level learners.
Busuu provides highly interactive resources as a mixture of text, audio assistance, and images to help you learn and remember the lessons. You can listen to the words and sentences again and again and switch between lessons whenever you want.
There is a practice section where learners can connect and interact with millions of other native speakers during the lessons and correct their mistakes.
After every lesson, you’ll earn Busuu berries, which are points you can use to upgrade to the paid version and unlock premium lessons. However, even the free lessons are quite comprehensive.
Cram is a free flashcards app that is being used by millions of students and teachers as an aid for learning a new language and memorizing difficult concepts and subjects. It’s very popular because of its easy-to-use interface, vast collection of flashcards, and the Leitner’s system of memorization.
Cram is useful in a multi-user classroom environment for teachers to create and share flashcard sets with their students. Teachers can add images and record their audio on each flashcard to teach proper pronunciation and improve the vocabulary of language learners.
Flashcards help students remember what they learn. Cram has a feature called the ‘Cram Mode’ where students pass through five levels of questioning for each set of flashcards.
To make learning fun, Cram also has two pre-installed games – ‘Stellar Speller’ and ‘Jewels of Wisdom’ – for every flashcard set.
Babbel has become one of the biggest online language learning apps due to its interesting features and affordable pricing. It uses the quiz style learning method and has courses designed for both beginners and advanced users.
Babbel has a good variety of courses divided into bite-sized lessons of 10 – 15 minutes each to give you just the right quantity at a time without overloading you with excess content. The courses are developed by linguistic experts and contain interesting exercises for reading, writing, speaking, listening, grammar, punctuations, and vocabulary skills.
Babbel makes learning English fun and easy with its intuitive course design. Other features like the intelligent review manager and integrated speech recognition help embed the lessons in your memory and bring accuracy in your pronunciation.
If you want to learn English for free, Duolingo is one of the best and easiest tools to do that. It’s a tool for both the beginners starting from scratch and for someone simply looking to brush off the ring rust.
Start by browsing through the list of languages on the course page and select English to begin taking the lessons. The lessons are divided into ‘skills’ that are arranged in a tree format. You need to clear each skill to move on to the next level.
The skills start with Basics and expand into different categories like Food, Family, Numbers, Questions, Colors, Grammar, etc. It’s very important for the beginners to understand these skills to move into the advanced sections.
Each skill has different types of questions to help you understand and remember the words and sentences. There is a unique option called ‘test out’ where learners can take a single test for all the basic sections and move directly to the advanced lessons.
Another unique feature of Duolingo is the ‘Immersion section’ where you get to translate real-world articles from the web. You can speak out words into a microphone to check your pronunciation. Points are awarded after completing each level.
If you are short on time and want to learn a language quickly (for business travelers), give Mosalingua a try. With this app, you can learn English anywhere – while traveling, waiting at a coffee shop, or simply when you’re taking a walk.
The lessons are short and designed keeping in mind the time constraints of language learners. The best part of Mosalingua is the 20 – 80 approach, called the Pareto principle. The app first focuses on the 20% of vocabulary that we use in almost 80% of our everyday life. This way, you understand the basics and bring fluency in your conversations.
The app has around 3000 words and, interestingly, there are 100 common words that are used regularly in half of the world’s writings and conversations. The vocabulary lessons are divided into 6 different levels with each level having small sentences and phrases comprising commonly used words.
MosaLingua has trademarked its learning method that they developed using the spaced repetition and active recall memory techniques.
The most difficult part of learning a new language is to be able to speak comfortably in that language. The English Conversation Practice app (ECP) by TalkEnglish helps you do that by holding conversations with you in English.
ECP is a free app that helps improve vocabulary, correct pronunciation, and aid in forming grammatically correct sentences. It has 200 different conversation lessons for developing your listening and speaking skills.
The conversation topics are divided into categories of regular events like taking a vacation, eating dinner, playing football, talking about children, etc. The lessons are made up of listening exercises, recording your own voice, and speaking exercises for conversation practice.
The Fun English app, as the name implies, is a fun way to teach English to your children using games and activities. It is currently rated as the best English learning app for kids aged 3 – 10 years. What makes it best is the fun factor. Kids have fun with their parents while learning.
Fun English is released by StudyCat and has garnered a lot of attention from parents and ESL teachers. The course is divided into 12 lessons to teach you about Colors, Animals, Numbers, Human body, Fruits, Food, clothes, etc., and over 80 learning games divided into these 12 lessons.
The free version comes with 2 lessons on Colors and Animals and 14 games. You need to upgrade to the premium version to unlock all the remaining lessons.
Besides teaching English, the app teaches other important skills like developing concentration and hand-eye coordination. It’s again a fun way to get your children engaged and comfortable with technology at an early age.
Technology has made learning easy and fun. These were some of the popular language learning apps to help you learn English without actually burning a hole in your pocket.
Although, if you don’t mind spending more, there are a couple of extremely popular apps, such as Rosetta Stone and Voxy, that you can try.
Have you used any other English apps that you would like to share with us? Leave us a comment. Happy learning!
Ethan Miller is a private ESL tutor and apart from his passion for teaching, he loves to write and holds a degree in creative writing. When he is not teaching or writing his book, Miller loves to blog and is a huge fan of educational technology. Follow Ethan on Twitter and his blog.