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Language apps for English language learners

Kia ora

Thank you to Peter and Judith for the feedback on my last update on ELLs and  phonological and phonemic awareness. I hope that community members found it helpful. 

  Last week I attended a meeting where it was great to hear teachers sharing some of their favourite resources. On reflection I realised how fortunate we are, as second language teachers, to now have at our disposal a whole range of new possibilities with the use of digital technologies in our teaching practice. I think that in particular they offer us a lot to improve both our teaching and assessment of oral language. Digital recordings are a very convenient way to track oral language progress and to store oral samples for assessment purposes.

One of the teachers shared  Sock Puppet app  which she found to be particularly useful for getting reluctant speakers to begin to speak in English. 

Sock Puppets lets you create your own puppet shows and to add a voice over. You select which puppet, the scenery, backgrounds and props and then create your own story. You can record your voice while moving the characters. The students work collaboratively together in small groups to develop their plays. Very cleverly, the teacher also allowed students to talk in their first language during the recording- as long as a translation was worked into the script e.g. by having another character translate the message.This approach  supports bilingual language development and scaffolds students who don't yet have enough English vocabulary to create a script by themselves. Once the scripts were recorded the students could listen to each other’s. They could also write the script down. In effect this app allows students to easily create a puppet show without all the time spent on actually creating the puppets and scenery. The focus becomes on the language.

The Sock Puppet app has the potential to be used in a number of different ways e.g. you could ask the students to incorporate a particular language structure that you have taught them into the script. You could also provide some sentence scaffolds to scaffold their development of using more complex language structures. The students could be free to choose their own topic or they may be asked to develop a script based upon a topic you have been studying.You can imagine that the use of sock puppets could be a very motivational way to learn English. 

I know many teachers also use VoiceThread to record oral language especially for portfolios or homework activities etc.

 Another site you may like to look at is I’ll tell you a story "I tell you a story" is a social website with classic fables and fairy tales, as well as stories written and uploaded by users. This site also has video and audio versions.

Which apps you use will depend very much on the age of your students, their interests and the learning objectives that you have in mind when selecting a particular tool.  See this article Larry Ferlazzo - Four questions to ask before using an Ed Tech tool

If you want to find a new tool or app then the British Council Teaching English Links section has links to web resources for English teachers sent in by contributors around the world.

I would love to hear what apps and sites you find helpful for supporting ELLs’ oral language development? Please share what age range you use it with and a little about how you use it with your students and why? 

Relevant articles – these articles are all from the British Council Teach English website

a.       Monitoring speaking As teachers there is a role for correcting student speech in the language classroom. This article looks at: aiding real communication, problems with monitoring student speech and the practicalities of effective monitoring.

b.      Speaking and elementary learners

c.       Role-play

Other apps to explore

You may want to check out these speaking English apps. I would love to hear feedback from anyone has tried any of these.  Were you able to use it successfully in your classroom?

a.       http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/apps these page has a number of apps developed by the British Council aimed at a variety of ages and levels.

Learn English Kids Learning Time with Timmy, Play exciting games and listen to the narrator to learn about numbers, colours, shapes and food in English with Timmy and his friends.

Learn English Kids: PlaytimeBuild confidence and practice listening skills in this app for 6-11 year-olds. Watch fun animated songs and stories such as Florence Nightingale and Red Riding Hood and play challenging games to improve spelling and understanding.

LearnEnglish Kids: Phonics Stories (School Edition)Designed for classroom use with a Teachers Guide. Young learners can read this phonics-based, interactive storybook app that features audio narration and fun games.

b.      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.babbel.mobile.android.en The app comes with a vocabulary containing 3,000 words which also includes pronunciations, images, and sample sentences, allowing you to easily understand and learn words.

c.       https://www.duolingo.com/ Duolingo might work for older students and is available in a number of different languages.

d.      http://lingua.ly/ Lingua.ly has:

 Smart Dictionary- Combine the power of Ultralingua, Babylon and Google for the most dynamic dictionary on the web!

Memory Games, Master new vocabulary and keep learning with fun and personalized word challenges

News Feed, Read headlines from top foreign papers in 17+ topics chosen by you

Vocabulary Flashcards, Add images, audio and example sentences for every word you look up

Progress & Reminders, Keep track of points earned and words learned as you

e.      http://ipadintheeslclassroom.weebly.com/esl-apps.htmlpractice,  ipad in the esl classroom – this site has a number of great apps featured including several for young learners.

f.        http://www.powayusd.com/PUSDDCES/2013-14Resources/ELLAppList2012_1_.pdf  iPad Apps For English Language Learners. Compiled by L.Estrada and H.Parris-Fitzpatrick

g.       http://www.teachthought.com/apps-2/50-popular-ipad-apps-for-struggling-readers-writers/ 50 Popular iPad Apps For Struggling Readers & Writers at  te@chthought posted 09/17/2012.

It is nearly the end of the term so maybe the holidays will be good time to explore some of these apps and to think about how you might use them with your students. It would be great to hear from you as to what works? 

Don't forget that you can start a conversation any time by asking your own questions or by sharing an experience, article, thought etc.

Enjoy your week