Are you addicted to your phone?
It seems that many people are.
According to one study, Americans check their phones 46 times per day.
Another study found that a third of citizens in the UK start using their phone within 5 minutes of waking up.
Some people think being stuck to our phones like this is horrible, and that it must mean the world is ending soon.
But we like to think there is still hope.
If we can barely keep away from our phones, we may as well use this addiction to improve our lives.
After all, addiction may not be so bad if it leads to successful learning!
13 Amazing Apps to Upgrade Your English
English Learning Apps
This app made Google’s Editors’ Choice list in 2017. While it is mainly aimed at people from South and Southeast Asia, any user can learn English using one of the 22 languages offered in the app. Supported languages include Hindi, Bengali, Urdu, Thai, Malay, Tamil, Chinese and Portuguese. The app not only provides excellent learning materials but also practice tests and games.
More than 470 lessons covering grammar, vocabulary and conversational English are offered in the app. It has audiovisual lessons that can be accessed without internet. It has a dictionary that speaks out the words so that users can practice English pronunciation while they build their vocabulary. It even uses voice detection features for teaching spoken English.
It also offers content like news, video, ebooks and articles for immersive practice.
If you have questions or you need to converse with someone in English, then its chat helpline can also connect you with English teachers.
Innovative Language features video and audio lessons from real English teachers.
The topics of the lessons can range from grammar to culture. For instance, they have videos about American traditions such as Groundhog Day along with introductions to celebrities and actors. Resources like this provide you with general knowledge you can use to actually talk about specific topics with native speakers.
It also has notes for each lesson that you can use to review and remember the content better. The lessons are divided according to learning levels, and you can also download specific lessons for offline use.
There are other features such as free email vocabulary tutorials that are delivered to you every day.
It also has certain premium services that you can pay for, including personal tutors, line-by-line audio reading of texts and learning programs tailored for you.
FluentU is one of the most popular mobile apps for English learning. It uses real-world videos to provide an immersive experience to learners.
With the app, you can find movie trailers, news reports, music videos and talk shows to help you improve your English listening and speaking skills.
There are videos available for all types of English, so you can hear different accents and vocabulary. You can also find videos that are perfect for your level of English and videos on specific topics like business, culture, entertainment and more.
FluentU also gives you interactive captions with definitions that help explain the content of a video. This allows you to understand the meaning of a word and see how it is used in real life.
You can even click a word to see other examples of how it is used.
For example, when you tap on the word “brought,” you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The app can also save audio dialogues so that you can listen to them when you do not have internet.
The review questions and quizzes are based on the videos you have watched and help you remember whatever you have learned. FluentU actually keeps track of all the words you already know, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
ABA English offers you both the American and the British forms of English. It offers more than 100 grammar videos for your daily lessons. It also gives you access to short and full-length films designed to teach expressions, vocabulary and other things.
It offers lessons at six different levels. Along with the usual levels of “beginner” and “advanced,” it offers special classes to people who are learning English for business, for the TOEFL, etc.
It has a special feature called “ABA Moments,” where users can play games related to a specific topic of daily life in order to learn ten words in one minute. You receive a new game five days a week.
The app can also provide a user with online tutors. They can help you in specific areas according to your needs and interests. You can also test your progress in the app after each lesson, and you get a certificate after you complete each level.
This app uses a unique concept. It focuses on teaching a language through e-books.
The app provides you with a library of texts related to almost any topic. It reads text aloud in two different languages. So, for instance, if you are learning English and you are a native Hindi speaker, it will present the text in both languages for you.
It uses a split screen to give you both the versions side by side. You can then compare the texts and understand the meaning of specific English words and sentences through a language you already know.
The app also makes it easier to follow the text by highlighting the specific sentence which is being read in both the languages.
This app is best for learners who would like to focus on reading and listening skills rather than English speaking.
Aco is the name of the AI chat bot that this app uses. AI is short for “Artificial Intelligence” and it is a kind of technology where computers are built to mimic (behave like) the minds of human beings. Thankfully, we have not yet reached the point where robots can replace human brains—but they are advanced enough to have simple conversations with us!
Chat bots are computer programs that can hold a conversation with real people. This app uses this technology to quickly build your English conversation skills.
Along with chatting with a bot, you can also listen to audio, read news, learn grammar and practice your listening skills.
The app also tells you jokes and tests you using English conversation quizzes (mainly fill-in-the-blank).
This app can only be used for learning American English as the chat bot is designed to be like a typical “American girl.” It also has a translator and free dictionary, which can help you understand the meaning of certain words through your own language.
Andy is another chat bot that helps you learn English. Just like with the last app, you can improve your English by having conversations with Andy. You can learn how to greet someone, talk about your day and ask questions about a person using this app.
The chat bot uses a question-and-answer format to help you learn more things about English conversation. It also reads out the messages so that you can practice English listening and pronunciation along with reading and texting.
The app can hold discussions about specific topics like movies, travel, art and so on. It tests your English knowledge by giving you tests within the chat. You can also ask for further clarifications about tricky words or grammatical rules.
There is even a reminder feature for practicing the words you recently learned. Andy corrects any mistakes you make in conversation, too.
The main benefit of practicing English conversation with a chat bot is that they make you more comfortable speaking the language. They don’t judge you, and they are always helpful!
This app is designed for intermediate and upper-intermediate learners. As the name suggests, it includes grammar tests.
The app contains two levels, and each level contains thirty tests. Each test has 20 exercises. This means that there is a total of 1200 exercises for your English practice.
Almost all English grammar topics are included in these exercises, including word formation, irregular verbs, tenses, modal verbs, adjectives, passive voice, nouns, confusing words and so on.
The app suggests that a user should complete one or two tests in a week, and then take some time to look at any mistakes as well as the explanation the app gives for those mistakes. You will benefit more from this app if you focus on the general rules that are revealed in each exercise rather than your score.
The app also has detailed progress charts. Once your total score turns green, it means that you are ready to advance to the next level!
The Knudge.me app is divided into two sections. The first section has all the English lessons, and the next section has games where you can test out your English skills.
The lesson section includes a vocabulary builder, English idioms, phrasal verbs and common confusing words. The vocabulary builder has three levels. The intermediate and advanced levels are designed to help you get a good score on exams like the IELTS, TOEFL, GRE and so on.
The “confusing words” section has homonyms and homophones, which are words that sound alike but have different meanings. It also has a good collection of 250 idioms and 200 phrasal verbs.
In the games section, you have vocabulary games, reading games and writing games. “Echo” is a unique dictation game where you have to write down words that are spoken aloud. It mainly helps you improve your spelling.
The app also has other important features like tests that match your skill level, progress tracking and flashcards. (We have a whole list of other helpful flashcard apps here.)
You may have heard about those people who are able to master a language in six months or less. While some of them may have natural gifts and talents, many people who are not geniuses have achieved similar goals.
If you look at their techniques and strategies, the one thing that all these “super learners” share is that they practice daily, or almost daily. Two of the most common reasons why learners abandon their English learning goals are a lack of motivation and too much distraction.
Some studies have shown that around 70% of students in America show signs of procrastination (delaying or putting off doing something). On top of that, there are plenty of reports showing that most social media sites are designed to distract us. Using these sites can shrink our attention spans (the amount of time we can focus on something), and this can affect all areas of our lives.
For these reasons, no language learning plan can truly be effective unless we stay focused and make language learning a daily habit.
That is why using a productivity app can be just as important to your English study plan as an English learning app. These productivity apps are meant to help you achieve your goals.
Habitica takes a whole new approach to productivity and habit building. Instead of dull to-do lists and reminders, it treats your life like it is a game.
Your daily tasks become “quests,” and completing them earns you points. You make an avatar or a virtual character and help it grow just like in an online role playing game. Each time you get certain points, you progress to the next level (just like with many of the language learning apps above). Every new level gives you new abilities and allows you to buy new clothes for your avatar (or even buy a pet!).
You also get certain benefits when you consistently complete regular tasks, such as watching an episode of your favorite show.
This app is for people who enjoy playing games online and like sharing their achievements with others. It makes the process of creating new habits more enjoyable for people who can understand and connect to this kind of environment.
Loop is a more straightforward app. It is for people who need a simple app that they can use without any kind of fancy set-up. More importantly, this app is totally free and has no ads.
You can build complex habits using this app and track them through various periods of time. For instance, if you need more practice with vocabulary than grammar, you can set up a daily reminder for vocabulary practice and a weekly alarm for grammar.
The app is designed to be so simple that it is almost invisible. You can respond to reminders without even opening the app. Its minimalist (simple and clean) design is both pleasing to the eye and helps you understand the app better.
If you do not have a problem with motivation, but just need a tracker with some important features, then this is the app you should choose.
If you do need motivation, but do not like the idea of making your life into a game, then Habit Bull may be appropriate for you.
It has all the features of the last app, but has additional features to help you stick to your goals. It tracks both good and bad habits. This means you can keep track of the days when you actually could not practice your English skills, and the days you just felt lazy. This helps you recognize genuine problems in your daily life and schedule that are not related to your personality.
The app also presents motivational pictures with every reminder so that you have some inspiration to start working. This added visual aid helps many people to get over their hesitation and start working.
Along with these features, Habit Bull also has topic-specific groups where real people can talk about their schedules. This means that you can find an English learning community and get advice from others about the techniques they use to improve their language skills.
In other words, this app takes a balanced approach between tracking habits and motivating you.
Unlike the other productivity apps, Pomodoro Timer helps you focus on a single task at a time. It is based on the Pomodoro technique, where people focus on one task for some time (usually 30 minutes), take a 5-minute break, and then again give their full attention to the task.
This helps learners keep distractions away. Usually we do not realize how much time we actually spend on studying, and how much time we spend checking our phones (or giving in to other distractions). This app helps you stay focused on your real task by giving you little breaks in between periods of intense concentration.
The break gives you a sense of achievement because it means that you were successful in focusing on your task. You also feel like the break is a reward for your achievement and it motivates you to concentrate even better.
For the best language learning program, you should use any two productivity apps with one language learning app so that you can easily set goals and achieve them consistently. The Pomodoro Timer app can help you focus on a task while any of the other three productivity apps can track your goals, habits and progress.
Since all the language learning apps focus on different information and use different methods, it is best to select one learning app at a time. Many apps focus on one aspect of language learning like reading, listening, etc. while others are good for general practice.
If you need to improve your overall English learning then it is best to select a general app. If you need to focus on a specific skill then you can select an app that is designed for that skill.
Dhritiman Ray is a writer of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. He specializes in topics like education, psychology and lifestyle. To know more click here.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.