by Carol Norbury
When I was a language student studying Spanish at school my main tools were a Collins Gem dictionary, a small vocabulary book and of course the textbook. Not much you may say but that was then. The modern language student has so much information at their fingertips thanks to the internet and so many apps to choose from. Such variety is great, but it can also be very confusing. How do you know which apps are good quality and reliable? Allow us at Express English College to help you. Using apps and technology has a dual purpose; not only will you improve your English, but you will also gain the digital skills required to be successful in the 21st Century. Here are my top 10 recommended apps for learning English.
In our general English classes at Express English College Manchester, we use the Cambridge Empower books with added online access and content. The Quiz your English app is a language practice app allowing you to practice English with your friends all over the world. It is the ideal add-on to the Cambridge Empower books. Produced by Cambridge University Press it is synonymous with quality.
2. BBC Learning English
This is an app that I recommend to all my students who are at an intermediate level, including pre and upper. It has it all, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation authentic content, and listening practice all in manageable chunks. 6-minute English is amazing. Listen to this daily and marvel at your improvement.
3. British Council App
The British Council has a number of apps to choose from, all highly recommended. I would like to highlight their Great Videos app where you can download various videos to watch about an aspect of British Culture. Not only can you improve your English, but you can further your knowledge of the cultural make-up of Great Britain.
If you want to listen to some really inspiring speakers from all over the world. then Ted Talks are for you. Each talk is usually about 15 minutes though some are longer, around 45 minutes. This is an opportunity to listen to English for longer and is great preparation if your goal is to attend university in the U.K. On average, university lectures are around 45 minutes to an hour so you need to be able to focus for longer. Don’t worry if you can’t understand all the Ted Talk, you can listen to it as many times as needed. You could even listen to sections. Apart from listening you can assess the speaker’s presentation skills and aim to mirror these when speaking in public in English yourself.
5. Lyrics Training
Music and songs are another great resource for studying English and analysing the structure of the language. You can also appreciate the rhythm and musicality of the English language. You will also work on your listening skills. This app is such good fun. You watch the video for a song and then you have to type in the missing lyrics. It’s quite difficult for native speakers too.
This is an app for making flashcards and widening your vocabulary and testing the vocabulary you have already been exposed to. The human memory cannot always remember words so it needs reminding. Quizlet is ideal for this.
7. Busuu English Smart Review
This is an award-winning app in the category of digital innovation for the studying of languages at the annual ELTons 2020. Revise everything you’ve learned. Find all the vocabulary and grammar you’ve learned so far and put it to the test with adaptive quizzes.
This is a great app for writing. Most students do not check their writing before submission to their teacher and it contains many basic errors and spelling mistakes. Avoid this by using Grammarly, then your teacher can spend more time assessing things like coherence and cohesion and the style and genre of your writing as opposed to correcting simple and careless mistakes.
9. BBC Sounds
This app offers a wealth of content. Radio stations, podcasts, economics, current affairs, lifestyle programmes, sports, music, cookery, documentaries, gardening and entertainment. There is also specific content for English learners. Choose what you are interested in and expose yourself to authentic content that native speakers listen to. You’ll be spoiled for choice. Podcasts are a great way to practice listening skills and can be listened to more than once or you can listen to a section you found difficult again.
10. The Guardian
A successful language learner is a good reader I think. Reading a quality broadsheet newspaper is a must. Extensive reading is the key to language improvement, not only in English but in your own language too. If you plan to go on to higher education, reading will be part of your daily routine. This newspaper is divided into different sections so you can be selective and read about things that you are interested in. As you read, focus not only on the content but also on the grammatical structures and vocabulary used. What do you notice? Are you going to add some of the vocabulary to your vocabulary notebook? Are there any chunks of language you could use in your own writing? Is the topic of the article interesting and something that could be discussed in class? Would you recommend your classmates read it? Can you give an oral summary of the article? Can you write a summary of the article in 5 sentences? Try doing these things. These are things that active learners do. Are you an active learner?
Do you have a favourite app for learning English? Let us know at Express English College and explain why you like it and have found it helpful. Remember knowledge is power!