language teaching apps

14 Incredible Apps for Organizing and Teaching Language Classes

As technology surges in use, it’s increasingly reaching every area of our lives.

Your classroom is next—that is, if technology hasn’t gotten there already!

Times are changing quicker than we realize, leaving us language educators with no option but to board the tech train or get stuck behind the times.

Working with technology and incorporating learning apps into your classes can effectively add new levels to your language teaching.

It can also provide students with a respite from customary classroom activities while still encouraging and reinforcing learning.

Oh, and they’re all free or extremely affordable.

So, why shouldn’t you start upgrading your teaching and experimenting with the highest-rated apps for language educators? It’s a no-brainer!

Contents

The Benefits of Using Apps in Your Language Teaching

First, let’s explore some ways incorporating apps in lessons benefits both students and teachers.

Apps can enhance student engagement

Technology is always a welcome addition in any classroom, in the same way technology is welcome in the world at large when it betters people’s lives. It has applications across the board from healthcare and science to education and personal finance. Whatever you need to learn or teach, there’s probably an app for that.

Students really enjoy incorporating technology into their language learning routines, often preferring it to conventional reading, writing and classroom activities.

That said, you might think that technology in the classroom would be a major distraction—something that hinders learning rather than maintaining student focus. Well, you’d be correct in the assertion that the constant distractions caused by widespread technology have been found to lower student attention spans.

But, weirdly enough, language learning and teaching apps let you harness this gravitational power of technology for good. Let students take a break to get lost in a round of fun app learning when they’re getting restless, and they’ll be productive with their language while indulging in the use of their favorite technology.

Apps add a whole new dimension to learning

Using apps in the classroom adds a whole new dimension to student learning by reinforcing the material and allowing students to experience language through fresh, uncharted and interactive means, beyond the pen, paper and textbook. This is a novel idea for students as much as it is for teachers—they’ve probably never had a real reason to use their gadgets in class before. And that novelty is great at inspiring excitement and enthusiasm for learning.

Apps make learning more easily accessible

With the easy accessibility of apps, they can be used both inside and outside of the classroom.

Apps are easy to use for both students and teachers, and they require minimal time. For example, if students are waiting in a line, why not encourage them to study for a few minutes on apps they’ve been learning with in class? We’ve all had students overuse the excuse, “I left my notebook and books,” so this way they can maximize their free time, increase their productivity and lose the excuses!

Of course, many students don’t have access to smartphones, computers or tablets due to their economic circumstances, so use your own discretion here. It comes down to your classroom and your students.

Apps can ease the challenges of classroom management

Now there are many apps out there that make our lives easier. These allow us to focus more on teaching and less on attendance, grading and other little things we need to keep track of that take us away from teaching time. Since I know this is a priority for many educators, this is the focus of the second half of my recommended apps list below, starting with the seventh app on the list.

14 Killer Apps for Language Educators

1. Chegg Prep

Chegg Logo

Android | iPhone

We all have experienced student boredom and at times discontent with conventional flashcards. Chegg upgrades this study tool so students memorize vocabulary, phrases and grammatical concepts more effectually, as well as mastering other studying skills.

If you’re working from a textbook, you can upload all the vocabulary, phrases and grammatical concepts to the app as you’d like. Students will then be responsible for creating and using their in-app flashcards based on what you upload as study tools for their assignments and tests.

One of its unique perks is its ability to appraise students’ pronunciation of each word in the app with its audio capabilities.

2. FluentU

Android | iPhone

Unlike more conventional apps, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease your students into language and culture over time. They’ll learn language as it’s spoken in real life by native speakers.

FluentU has a huge collection of authentic language videos that native speakers in each language actually watch regularly. This is content that’s known internationally for its quality and entertainment value. Students get excited when they see their favorite clips appear in the classroom.

But it doesn’t just stop with great videos. On FluentU, all the videos are sorted by skill level and come with built-in language lessons. These videos are also carefully annotated for students. Words come with example sentences and definitions. Students will be able to add them to their own vocab lists, and even see how the words are used in other videos.

Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools for students, like flashcards and fun “fill in the blank” exercises.

It’s perfect for in-class activities, group projects, as well as homework. Not to mention, it’s guaranteed to get your students excited about learning languages! 

3. Duolingo

AndroidiPhone

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Language learners across the globe use Duolingo as an autonomous language guide. Duolingo contains lessons that integrate conversation, vocabulary, speaking and listening skills. At the end of each section, students are tested on the relevant skills, and then the results show what parts students are excelling in, as well as where they could use more practice.

It also is helpful in classrooms with students of varying skill levels. When the more advanced students finish their work early, they can stay productive by advancing to the subsequent levels in Duolingo, similar to a video game. Playing a video game and learning simultaneously—I’m sure you well know that this can significantly incentivize students!

Bonus: There’s also a friendly little automated bird that accompanies each student during the lessons. It also sends users email reminders to put in their daily 5 to 10 minutes of study time. If these reminders are ignored after a while, the poor bird finally caves and says, “These emails don’t seem to be working. I’ll stop for now.” Ha! One student told me this response actually encourage her to study!

4. Google Classroom

teacher-apps-for-android

Android | iPhone 

The Google Classroom app is a collaborative app which integrates seamlessly with other apps that are part of the G Suite for collaboration, such as Google Drive, Google Calendar, Gmail and Google Slides. That makes it easy for teachers and students using Google apps to give and collect assignments and share materials.

For example, whenever you give an assignment in Google Class, you can set it to show up on a shared Google Calendar. And you can attach directions and worksheets to the assignment easily using Google Drive. By doing this, students and teachers can share a wealth of information.

Everything from supplemental material and explanations, to assignments and deadlines can be uploaded to Google Classroom and distributed to everyone in your group.

5. ClassDojo

teacher-apps-for-android

Android | iPhone

ClassDojo is an innovative app that allows you to set goals for your students and monitor their progress in real time, as well as reward them for any achievements they’ve made.

Great for all types of teachers, ClassDojo also provides a sharing platform similar to popular social media apps, where students can display their work and help each other solve problems.

Best of all, parents can easily check in to view their children’s work.

6. Remind

teacher-apps-for-android

Android | iPhone

This app allows for quick and easy individual messages or class announcements. The ability to schedule reminders ahead of time is a huge help to busy teachers. Messages and reminders go straight to recipients’ cell phones and can be translated into 70 different languages.

You and your students will never have to miss a deadline or show up to class unprepared again—preventing unnecessary delays as a result.

7. Socrative

Android | iPhone

apps-for-language-teachers

Here’s another online virtual classroom platform, most useful for tests and discussion forums. Educators can redact a quiz and upload it to the app for students to take on their phones or tablets.

The structure is already conveniently in place for multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank. All they need to do is enter the in-app code specific to that quiz. Students’ responses update immediately, enabling a comprehensive understanding of each student’s performance, and the class’s aggregate performance as a whole.

The results can be emailed to you or whomever immediately, and you can compare all students’ performances across metrics such as response time and correctness, and give them instant in-app feedback. It’s great for games, vocab tests and most importantly motivating both parties, us educators and our students.

8. Plickers

AndroidiPhone

apps-for-language-teachers

This is my preferred app if I either don’t want my students to be on their devices for that day or class activity, or if they don’t have their own devices. It enables us to appraise students using the app’s paper cards, via your own device.

The most convenient way to use it is to create multiple-choice questions before class starts. You ask a question and students raise the answer in the air with their cards.

This is what enables the app’s special magical feature. With merely the device’s camera, you scan the raised hands (each student is linked to their Plickers car’s number) for an instant count of all your students’ in-class answers.

Especially magical is that it can see how each student answered, allowing us to quickly gauge who is and isn’t understanding the class material and how challenging it is. We can then project the class responses (graph-mode is most useful here) on the whiteboard so students get an idea too.

9. Additio

11 elementary language teaching apps

AndroidiPhone

I used to have a teacher’s planner where I would keep all my records of assessments and attendance. With Additio, I can now do this on my tablet very easily.

This app offers a grade book, attendance tracker, class diary and planner, all in one. It’s incredibly easy to use, and it allows you to export the data so you can print it out or email it.

The only catch is that the free version only lets you have two groups of students. However, that’s enough to get you started and decide whether it’s worth paying for the upgrade or not. 

10. Show Me

11 elementary language teaching apps

iPhone

This app is a basic whiteboard in which you can draw, add text and include shapes just like if you were using a magic board. The difference is that you can also record a video of whatever you’re drawing on the computer and include your voice as a narrator.

I use Show Me when I’m explaining grammar points to my students, like verb conjugations or adjective agreement. I create the video and then share it with my students so they can go over it at home when completing the exercises.

It’s a great tool for flipped classes and it gives you access to many videos created by fellow teachers that can provide inspiration for your teaching methods. Another great idea is to ask your students to create a video themselves explaining how a grammar point works to check their understanding.

11. TeacherKit

apps-for-language-teachers

AndroidiPhone

Sick of passing around an attendance sheet every day for every class? This is a great opportunity to go paperless, particularly with classroom management. It tracks students’ attendance across various classes. But that’s not all.

The app is more than a digital class record. You can track where each student sits, back up any important class material to the Dropbox digital cloud, make behavior notes for each student, manage a digital gradebook and redact student progress reports quite easily.

I like its calendar, which helps you track each lesson at each time in the day, which students are absent, their participation and behavior ratings.

We’ve all forgotten a student’s name, so all the in-app data is linked to their photo! This clearly makes our job easier.

12. Bitsboard

11 elementary language teaching apps

iPhone

Okay, not everything is about memorizing, but learning vocabulary is an important part of language learning. This app lets teachers create their own flashcards and share them with students, who can then practice the vocabulary games.

You can also search for previously made flashcards that other teachers have uploaded or ask students to create their own.

Something I find really useful is to print out the flashcards to support my special educational needs students when doing activities in class. 

13. Evernote

Android | iPhone

apps-for-language-teachers

Evernote is primarily helpful with organizing language course content digitally.

From planning a course to delivering a lesson plan and capturing feedback after class (before, during and after!), you can plan your classes with tags. Tags are a great way to structure your classes weekly or by class.

For example, if you know that there’s certain content to be taught during the sixth week, then for all related content you can use the tag “week 6.” Once this is in place, you can keep adding additional tags as the semester progresses.

During class you can share a digital notebook with your students: After you create it, it uploads automatically to their Evernote app. In accord, anything you add can be viewed immediately by students, sort of like a teaching cloud similar to Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive.

You can also do whiteboard photos by taking snapshots of the whiteboard and uploading them for later use. Take a pic of the whiteboard before and after class for an accurate time-stamped snapshot of what you were working on, on any given class day.

14. Too Noisy

AndroidiPhone

apps-for-language-teachers

Tired of reminding your students to “quiet down?” This app shows how loud it is in the room at any given moment, projected visually! 

As long as students are within the preferred noise level, which you choose in the setting modes, the cartoon face is happy and the car-like meter is in the green. If the noise goes over the threshold, the meter goes into the red and the face gets angry.

You can customize it by adjusting its sensitivity and setting it to silent mode, during tests, for example. You can also “dampen” the meter’s sensitivity, if the class is doing a group activity for example, in which they’re supposed to converse. when they’re in groups as well, each one can have their own meter too on too to modulate their own noise level.

The simple version is free, while the paid pro version tracks more background noise and has no ads.

 

As a language educator, you play an undoubtedly fundamental role in an increasingly global, diverse and multilingual society. It’s up to us to develop the language acumen of our students with fun and creativity, ultimately turning out happy, engaged and highly dedicated students!

I hope you found these apps helpful in your classroom. What would be better than checking these out to keep you “on top of your game,” and add more tools to your teacher’s toolbox?!

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