21 Best Apps for ESL Teachers

Being an up-to-date ESL educator these days might mean using all the latest technology to make classroom learning more exciting for your students.

Or it might mean teaching English entirely online from the comfort of your own home.

With such steady change, keeping the attention of a student may seem difficult at times, but the best way to continue is to adapt with the change. 

You can use technology to your advantage by using the apps in this post to give students a break from the traditional classroom and reinforce the skills they are learning in new, fun ways


Best ESL Listening and Speaking Apps

1. Culips

iOS | Android

Cost: FreeCulips is a great resource for teachers who want to include some listening-based lessons in their curriculum.

Culips offers various podcasts or episodes that feature everyday English. Culips caters to all levels of ESL learners and includes interesting and intelligent topics.

By having your students listen to the podcasts on Culips, they will get great practice in listening skills and comprehension!

2. FluentU


iOS | Android

Cost: Monthly subscription (free trial available)

FluentU has a huge collection of authentic English videos that people in the English-speaking world actually watch. Students can get excited about seeing their favorite pop star or clip from a popular movie show up in their English classroom. And you can get excited about how engaged and entertained they are while they learn.

Not only will students be exposed to native content, but they will have access to great learning tools such as flashcards, audio, translation features, transcripts, and even quizzes to check their retention.

FluentU has great features for educators as you can use it for in-class activities, group proje

cts and solo homework assignments. You can even assign videos and quizzes and see from your dashboard what videos each student watched, how much time they spent on the program and even each question they got wrong in the exercises. 

3. Lyrics Training

iOS | Android

Cost: Free with a premium subscription of $4.99/month available for unlimited access

Music is not only a fun way to teach a language, but one of the most efficient.

In my experience, many lower-level English learners know the lyrics to whole songs in English before they can hold a conversation.

Lyrics Training allows you to build lessons around an incredibly immersive, music-based experience. The app allows students to fill in missing lyrics in real-time.

This can be done with the class as a whole (using the website on a projector) or individually with students using headphones and choosing a song based on the tunes they love.

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android apps for english teachers4. TED

iOS | Android

Cost: Free TED Talks have become one of the most widespread platforms for education and public speaking in the world. While the app can be a great tool for any teacher, it is especially useful to ESL teacher.

Not only can your students practice listening and comprehension, they can learn about a whole range of topics. The app includes more than 3,000 TED Talks on everything from food to science to history and more!

You can use TED Talk videos to enhance just about any ESL lesson. The videos include subtitles in over 100 languages, so for lower level students, you can use English audio accompanied by subtitles in their native language. You can build whole lessons around a TED Talk or use it as an engaging introduction to a topic or unit.

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best apps for esl teachers5. Speak English Like an American

iOS | Android

Cost: Free with a $9.99 upgrade available to access all of the lessons. One of the hardest parts about learning English is getting to the point of sounding like a native speaker. The English language is filled with different idioms and expressions that often don’t translate well from other languages. 

The Speak English Like an American app uses various methods to teach its users common figures of speech and expressions that Americans use in day-to-day language, often without even realizing.

Speak English Like an American is perfect for getting students comfortable enough to have casual conversation with Americans outside of the classroom.

esl app

esl app

6. italki

iOS | Android

Cost: Varies, students pay teachers

Italki is a platform used by teachers and learners of all languages to connect. Learners can search for a tutor that suits their needs. This is a great way for learners to find someone to practice their conversational skills with and receive feedback on their progress.

While italki is a great tool for teachers to use to encourage their students to receive additional guidance, it’s also a great resource to build careers. As the teacher, you can offer customized lessons and set your own hours and hourly rates.

Most teachers have several years of teaching experience, either in a classroom or online, and hold some level of certification. This may be a good choice if you’re hoping to develop a career in teaching from home.

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7. Cambly

iOS | Android

Cost: Students pay tutors

Cambly connects English learners from all over the world with private, native English-speaking tutors. There are a variety of courses that students can choose to focus on, or they can choose just to video chat with a tutor.

This is a great way for students to practice conversational skills and have a little bit of freedom in choosing what those conversations are about. 

Cambly is convenient and super easy to use, your students can use it in their off time to practice conversation and have further exposure to native speakers.

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Best ESL Reading and Writing Apps

best apps for high school english teachers8. Project Gutenberg

iOS | Android

Cost: Free

Project Gutenberg is not an app in the traditional sense, but rather a digital library filled with 50,000 free e-books. The selections range from the classics to modern works on a wide variety of topics.

With Project Gutenberg, you can select a text based on the various topics covered in class. From there, you can assign readings to your class and have students prepare non-traditional book reports, such as videos, PowerPoint presentations or short speeches covering the material they’ve read.

best apps for high school english teachers9. My Story

iOS | Android

Cost: Free

This app allows students to create simple short stories on their phones and tablets using pre-loaded images and scenery.

While it’s intended for younger students, this app can be extended to all high school students just starting to learn how to make simple English sentences. This makes My Story an excellent teaching aid for all ESL teachers.

What’s more, you can also use this app to create short stories designed to introduce specific vocabulary or grammar points. For example, if you want to teach animals, you can create a story about a farmer and his livestock.

Have your students create their own short stories using this app. Provide them with a topic or a set of vocabulary words to include in the story, then let them do the rest. 

best apps for esl teachers10. Grammar Up


Cost: Free with a $4.99 upgrade available to access the full question bank      

Grammar can be hard to teach, but with Grammar Up, it doesn’t have to be. Different sections of the app are devoted to different parts of speech, like adjectives, adverbs, causative verbs, conditionals and many more.

Each section has the technical definition of the part of speech followed by a test for students to take in order to “Grammar Up” and reach the next level.

This is a great individual assessment that ESL teachers can use to determine which parts of speech their students understand and which parts of speech they need to review.

esl app

11. Memrise

iOS | Android

This app is great for teaching vocabulary and phrases. You can use this app in the classroom or instruct students to use it at home to review material covered in class. Select from a number of free courses that offer phrases and vocabulary lists on different topics.

Perhaps after a lesson on English idioms, you can create a set of cards to help students study and memorize the new phrases and their meanings. Or you might create a word list of verbs or nouns, using English and your students’ native language. Students can go at their own pace or work based on what you assign them.

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Best ESL Supplemental Apps

These apps may not help students work on a specific skill, but they can still be helpful in the classroom. These apps are more centered around classroom organization and supplementary self-study tools for students.

esl app

12. +Mindmeister

iOS | Android
Various subscriptions

This app focuses on creating mind maps, which is ideal for developing visual representations of various abstract concepts. As a result, students are able to digest larger amounts of information and represent them in a much easier format.

Mindmeister is perfect for all teachers looking to organize information. Not only can you use mind maps to organize your lessons, but you can assign students research topics, which they can then transform into mind maps of their own. 

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13. Class Dojo

iOS | Android

Class Dojo is not only a great way to keep you classroom organized, but it takes a reward-based gamified approach to improving behavior in the classroom and building a positive environment. 

Each student creates a personalized avatar which is then added to the main class page, which can be viewed by any student.

The class page acts as a kind of point tracker, where students can earn points for things like doing their homework, participating, or helping another student. All students can see where they fall compared to other students and their points. This can create a kind of competitive edge and incentive for students to do well in class.

For an effective boost, use this app alongside a points-based reward tally. For example, the first student to reach 20 points chooses the topic for the next class, first to 30 gets a piece of candy etc.

This can improve classroom behavior and create a rewards system for kids to encourage them to stay engaged and do their best. It’s also a good way for you to keep track of your students and see how they do over time.

esl app

14. Educreations

iOS | Not available for Android
Free with an option to pay $99/year for advanced features

Educreations is an extremely adaptable app that gives power to the learner by making idea-sharing extremely easy.

Teachers and students can record videos of themselves explaining any given topic and share them with as many people as they want.

Videos resemble PowerPoint presentations, giving teachers the ability to write and doodle over any slide to emphasize or elucidate their points.

Brilliant for visual learners, Educreations is also great for taking on a flipped learning approach in class. Students could take home a presentation of a speaking topic and then use lesson time for practicing conversation.

Students can also have access to a wide range of presentations that have been made public on Educreations, allowing some autonomy in choosing things they’d like to learn about.

esl app

esl app

15. Google Translate

iOS | Android

Google Translate is definitely an app that anyone learning or teaching English should have on their phone.

This app can translate dozens of languages into English, and it can be used in all types of activities. Encourage your students to download the app for assistance when they are working on an independent project or when they are outside of the classroom.

I’d also encourage you to have your students look into translation apps based specifically on their native language. Google Translate is best used for single words, and translating whole sentences may not always be accurate as the software is based mostly on word-by-word direct translation.

esl app

esl app

16. Duolingo

iOS | Android
Free with optional $6.99 monthly subscription to access premium features

Many people all over the world use Duolingo for independent language instruction, and you can definitely use it for ESL teaching as well.

The English learning version of Duolingo has lessons that integrate conversation, vocabulary, speaking and listening skills. At the end of each section, the user is tested on their skills, and then the results show what parts the user is excelling in and where they could use more practice.

This app can be a great resource to teachers as a fun way to have students work on their skills at home. Any student can access Duolingo with a phone or computer and advance through lessons at their own pace. This is great as quicker learners can move along and slower learners can take more time when needed, and all in a fun way!


17. Kahoot!

iOS | Android

Kahoot is a game-based learning app that can be customized for language learning. You can use this app to design games based on material you’ve covered in class during previous lessons.

Kahoot plays almost like a trivia game with multiple choice questions that you create based on whatever material you want. You can even include videos, images, or diagrams in your questions.

In the classroom, you can project the game onto the wall or board at the front of the room. Students can then use their own mobile devices as game controllers to select their answers. The game uses a point system based on if answers are correct and how quickly they are sent in.  The leaderboard is displayed after every question, so everyone knows where they are at.

This app certainly is a great way to test retention while also encouraging students to have fun!

esl app


Best ESL Game Apps

esl app

18. Words With Friends

iOS | Android

This game is extremely common for native speakers, but it’s also a super fun way for ESL students to practice spelling and vocabulary! In this automated scrabble-like game, students spell words for points.

A fun way to integrate this game into the classroom is by holding a Words With Friends championship. Have students play with each other in several rounds; the students with the highest score move on to the next round and eventually there will be one Words With Friends class champion! 

esl app

esl app

19. Fun English by Study Cat

iOS | Android
Free with extra lessons available for purchase

While this app may be geared towards younger learners, its simplicity and game-like learning system makes it a good option for beginner level learners as well. 

In this app there are over ten different English learning games that help English learners with everything from pronunciation to spelling to vocabulary. This app helps learners retain the information they’ve learned in a fun way, and also works well as an incentive for young learners to get their work done.

20. Futaba

iOS | Not available for Android

Futaba is a fantastic round-table vocabulary game that’s sure to mesmerize your students.

Pictures flash in the middle of the screen and the students need to pick out the word that matches the picture.

These will generally be common words used in the English language—think “First Word” flashcards without the cards. Each round is one minute long, and the winner at the end of each round gets one point. The first to three points is the overall winner.

I usually use Futaba as an opening game to get my students thinking in English. When I started my lessons with a quick round of Futaba for the first time, my students were hooked—for months they always asked to start with this game. And they would always beg to play more once we had a winner.

21. Head’s Up!

iOS | Android

In this game, one person has a word that they are trying to guess by listening to the other students describe it without ever saying the actual word.

Although this isn’t exclusively an ESL app, it can be used effectively in your ESL classroom. This game helps students build speaking confidence and encourages them to use adjectives, synonyms and antonyms. 

Not only will students have fun with this game, but they will get great practice in thinking in English and using new vocabulary!

esl app

The Benefits of Using Apps in Your ESL Teaching

Now that you know about all of these apps that can help you in your ESL classroom, let’s look at how they benefit you and your students.

Helps Keep Students Engaged

Technology is always an exciting addition to any classroom. Students typically love working with technology and prefer it over reading and writing in a traditional way. Using apps in the classroom is one great way to boost learning and help keep students engaged in the material.

Adds a New Dimension to Learning

It’s not news that repetition and review are essential to the success of learning a language. Apps are a great tool for this as they reinforce the material and allow students to experience English in yet another form.

Easily Accessible

With the easy accessibility of apps, they can be used both inside and outside of the classroom.  Apps are so easy to use for both students and teachers, and require absolutely no prep time!


Using any of these apps will surely provide a new, innovative dimension to student learning that will boost their language learning productivity. While apps shouldn’t be a replacement for an interactive and well-planned curriculum, you’ll find that they’re great supplements to any ESL course. Time to upgrade!

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