Apps to help ESL students learn English


If you have ESL students in your classroom, there are some free apps which can help them learn English. There are quite a few programs which teach foreign languages to English speakers, but just a few which teach English to non-English speakers.

duolingo logoOne of the most widely used is DuoLingo. DuoLingo uses engaging graphics and gamification elements (progress bars, leveling up) to keep students engaged. It also offers a wide range of languages to learn and to learn from (the learner’s native tongue): Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Czech, Dutch, French, English, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portugese, Punjabi (Gurmukhi), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Talugu, Thai, Turkish, Ukranian, and Vietnamese.

babbel logo+Babbel is another free multi-platform app which lets you learn English from another language. In the app, the language which the user already knows is called “Display Languages” and can be changed in the settings. Of these, +Babbel offers American English, British English, German, Italian, Portugese, Spanish, and Swedish. Helpful to young students, +Babbel offers customized conversations based on the user’s age and where conversation is expected to take place, so the app won’t introduce conversation about drinking and nightlife.

memrise logoA third free app, which uses gamification and some extra educational features, is Memrise. It lets users learn English from a native language of Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Jarpanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portugese (Brazil), Portugese (Portugal), Russian, Spanish (Mexico), Spanish (Spain), Turkish, and/or Vietnamese. Memrise is unusual because displays videos of real people speaking the language — it is is helpful to see the actual mouth movement during speech. Memrise also allows users to type in memories associated with the word or phrase being taught.

All apps are usable on PC, tablet, Android, and iPhone. They all also require an email account or some type of login to register and keep track of lesson progress. For tips on this, see “Tips for handling student email accounts and student logins.”


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