Sunday 7 November 2010

iPad Apps for English Language Teachers

Well like a lot of people I’ve bought an iPad over the summer and I’ve been having my first taste of shopping for apps to extend the capabilities of the iPad. I’ve also been having a look at how some of these can be used for language learning, so I thought I would share with you a little bit of information about the first few apps I’ve tried.

For those of you who don’t know Forvo, it’s a marvelous pronunciation dictionary site which is collecting together audio examples of of the pronunciation of different words from languages and speakers all round the world.
The app works as a simple pronunciation dictionary which you can carry with you in class and whenever a new word comes up, you can get an example pronunciation form it. For many of the more common words in English you can get multiple examples from different speaker (male, female, UK, US, Australian etc.)

The app could be really handy for use in class, especially if you aren’t confident about your own pronunciation or your students want to study a particular accent. The app runs on iPhone or iPad. You’ll need to have a connection to download the pronunciation examples and unfortunately there isn’t any capability to record and upload your own examples (you’ll need to go to the website to do that), but it’s still a pretty useful tool.

It isn’t free, but it’s pretty cheap and you can download it from:

Dragon Dictation
This app is from the makers of the popular Dragon voice recognition software and as you would expect it is designed to recognise your words and transcribe them as text. It works pretty well too, though it does make some mistakes which you then have to correct. You can correct the errors by typing in the corrections or tapping the surface where the error is and trying to say the words again.
This would be a good way to get students working on their speaking skills and correcting errors in text. It’s also a very handy tool if you don’t like typing a lot as once you have created a text on it you can either copy or send it by email or post it straight to Facebook or Twitter. You don’t need a connection to use the voice recognition part, but you’ll need to be connected to share your texts. It also works best if you have an external microphone for your device.

Mobile Air Mouse
This is a really clever little app that transforms your iPad, iPod or iTouch into a remote touch pad controller and keyboard for your computer. That might not seem like such a big deal, but what it means is that once you have the free software installed on the main computer in your classroom, any student that has Air Mouse on their mobile device can take control of the computer, write or draw on the board and interact with your learning materials without leaving their seat.

This duplicates a lot of the functions of an interactive whiteboard and slate, so it might also save some money. There’s a free version and a pro version. The app runs through your wireless connection.
Flipboard is my favourite app so far. It is a type of feed reader for the iPad. The really great thing about Flipboard though is that it converts the feeds into a magazine type format that you can then easily browse. This is particularly useful for feeds from things like Twitter, which can be very reader unfriendly and I’m now getting a lot more information a lot quicker from Twitter than I previously was using a desktop based app.
So this is a great app for keeping up with your PLN as well as finding images and text to use in class. Flipboard is also free, so that’s another big bonus, but you will need a connection while you are using it.
Here’s a video showing how it works:

This is an app that has been developed to support the website (or could it be the other way around) MeeGenius contains a collection of illustrated books for primary level kids. The books have audio accompaniment and words are highlighted as the kids listen.
Great to get younger learners reading and listening in English. The app isn’t free but it’s very reasonable priced (especially compared to buying the books) and it contains 12 free books 6 of which are ready installed and 6 more that you need a connection to download. If you want more books after that you can buy more.
This is a handy app that allows you to add audio to images or sequences of images and then export them as video files. There is a free version that allows you to create videos of up to three images and 10 mins recording time, or you can buy the pro version and make unlimited sequences. This is really handy for grabbing screen shots from your iPad or iPhone and adding audio to them or for adding audio to photographs.
Describing pictures and images is a handy way of getting students to practice their speaking and the videos can then be exported for sharing.
I hope you find some of these apps useful, and if you don't yet have an iPad, I hope they give you some idea of the enormous potential that these tools have.

Related links

Nik Peachey


Susan said...

Thanks for sharing this.

How reliable have you found Forvo to be? The reviews in the app store aren't exactly glowing, but there aren't very many of them.

Phil said...

Hi Nik,

I love your scoop it and appreciate you curating these cool apps. Please check out my site for 32 apps that I have checked out for ESL learners and teachers.