The ultimate top 521-Feb-2013
We’ve been running the Top 5 series for 6 months now, giving you a new rundown every month of the best apps and online tools out there for all sorts of English teachers, whether you teach business English students , young learners or are looking for something to help your students work on their English outside of the classroom. So with that in mind, here’s my ultimate Top 5: my five absolutely favourite apps that I’ve reviewed so far in this series.
What can I say about Evernote? Everybody needs it! It is a very simple note-storage solution but works on a cloud, meaning you can create and save a note on any internet-connected device and then access it later from any other internet-connected device. It’s great for making notes on the go – I love it for writing down lesson ideas on my tablet while I’m on the train to refine later from my computer when I get home! There’s also a host of additional tools with Evernote, of which my favourite for English teachers is Skitch, which allows you to annotate pictures: great for lessons based around descriptions and directions!
For the ultimate dictionary app, it has to be Dictionary.com. It comes with a lovely looking widget to put on your smartphone or tablet homepage, with a word of the day and a search function so your students can find new words really easily. They can also run a voice search rather than typing, which is always popular with teenagers, and of course they can hear the pronunciation of every word they find. It also includes the thesaurus part of the dictionary.com website, so it’s excellent for helping students expand their vocabulary. Finally, they can favourite words and save them for later, so if they’re out and about they don’t need to worry about writing it down there and then.
Global News and Newspapers
Global News and Newspapers is one of the best news aggregator apps around, especially for English language teachers, as it allows you to quickly and easily find articles from newspapers all around the world, meaning you can search by country to find news from America, Australia or the UK, or any other English speaking country you like. You can also set up category folders and feeds, so if you find a particular newspaper you like, you can receive updates about their new articles to always have some authentic materials on hand. It’s a great way of finding regional news too, so can bring some interest into the classroom without recycling larger news stories that students probably get bored of discussing!
Sounds is a great app for both students and teachers: it gives you the full phonemic chart that when you tap on a letter you can hear the individual sound and the phoneme in a full word. You can also do little quizzes, such as figuring out what the word written in phonemic script is, and you can practise spelling by using the interactive phonemic keyboard. Finally, you can record your voice and play it back, helping students improve their pronunciation. It’s great to use in class with your students, or just to recommend to them to practise outside of the classroom.
Finally, for a little bit of fun, my favourite word game app that I’ve come across is Moxie. It’s a great little word game, especially for English language students, because it makes them think strategically rather than just finding words in a word search. You are given a range of tiles, starting at 3, and you have to create a word, and then add to the word by adding or changing letters. For example, if your first three letters make the word RAG, then the next letter is E, you could make RAGE, and if the next letter is P, you can change it to PAGE. At the moment, it’s only available as an app for the iPhone and iPad, but there is an online version [www.moxiewordgame.com] which you can play just as well on an internet browser through your smart phone: I’m using Android and it worked great through Chrome.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the Top 5 series so far, and if you’d like us to recommend any apps for certain uses, just get in touch with us through the comments section below!