English is the primary language of the world, yet not the only one, and if our students want to speak their minds, the first language they use is instinctively their mother-tongue. How can technology help them?

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When we are in a non-English speaking country, it’s more difficult for our students to practice outside the classroom. This is why, as English Teachers, we shouldn’t consider learning apps as competition, but, on the contrary, helpful tools to recommend to our students.

Why Learning English with another language

Now there are many options to learn English with apps. Some of them use a monocultural methodology, but I think the ones that use two languages are more effective, especially for the low-level students who can get a sense of familiarity by interacting with their own language.

The list of languages included in the language learning apps increases every day. In my personal experience as a teacher, I worked mostly with Spanish and French, so these are my recommendations. Obviously, there are many more apps that might be more effective with other languages.

Learning apps to assist English Teachers

Very often, Teachers tend to consider apps like unfair competition and subtly discourage students to use them. This is understandable: our earnings depend on our students, yet another way to see things is by considering these apps as our assistants. They can do the boring stuff with our students, they can be used as a self-correcting homework, so that we can focus our attention on our students during class, to develop more interesting activities for them that will help to maintain their motivation high.

Top 5 Apps to Learn English

The big advantage of the app is that it stays in a phone and we can carry it with us all the time. While an English class is an event we and our students have to prepare fore in advance, using an app is extremely comfortable. Our students can open it in their spare time, before going to bed, before having lunch or while cueing, instead of playing Puzzle Bubble, and this is why, as a teacher, we should encourage our students to use them.

Here are 5 apps to learn English that I consider are the best at the time of writing:

1). Duolingo

Duolingo is maybe the most popular app to learn English. Studies (I don’t know how reliable, though) say that a constant period of time spent on Duolingo is equivalent to a semester of a language course at an institute. Duolingo deals with English speaking, listening, and grammar.

Ideally, your students will spend 20 minutes a day on this app to get more fluent in English. Duolingo follows a competitive reward system to encourage students to keep being interested. For example, you will be competing with others and have fun while learning. By winning or completing your goal, you earn a reward, which can be used to upgrade certain features within the app. The free version is almost enough to teach your students English, and it is available anywhere.

(Availability – IOS/Android/Website)

2). Memrise

Memrise can be defined as a kick-start app for English learning for your students at the beginner level. It does not follow a game pattern to teach your students; instead, Memrise uses common phrases, vocabulary lessons, and creative words. So that the students can implement it in their conversation. If you want to teach English to your students while practising it and analyzing their progress, Memrise may be the best possible option for you. It is rapidly growing in popularity amongst English learners.

The lessons available at Memrise are not very long to cover. They are designed to be completed quickly so your students would not have to spend hours mastering them.

Do you know that Memrise courses are written and designed by its users? So in a way, you are getting a more practical learning experience. So instead of learning so-called necessary English, students will be learning actual use of the language and common words used in daily life.

(Availability – IOS/Android/Website)

3). HelloTalk

What if your student is not a fan of learning English by having to read lessons, listen to them, or not even any visual form of learning? With HelloTalk you get to learn directly from a native English speaker from the real world. No lessons, topics, assignments or tasks. Just simple English-learning with someone.

HelloTalk is a language exchange app. The app provides more than 15 million people around the globe to come to interact with each other. In simple words, your student will find a partner online who will teach them their language (choose a native English speaker), and in return, your student will have to teach them their language. And do not worry if your student is afraid of confrontation or not comfortable; HelloTalk has text, image, voice, and video options to communicate. It is like having a talk buddy to learn. And conversing in English daily. This is probably the best way to learn a language.

(Available – IOS/Android/Website)

4). Busuu

Busuu is a mixed kind of app to learn English. You get options like conversation learning (like HelloTalk, not that much personalized, though) and also learning lessons. It comes with twelve languages available in the app. Busuu also has a unique way of managing the progress of your student’s learning, by maintaining percentage, a colour coding section and much more. 

The most imminent use of Busuu can be its feedback and offline features. In Busuu, your students can give their feedback on various lessons or the people learning there. Your students can also get feedback from others on your learning which is always a good thing to have. Furthermore, the people reviewing do not know you, so it makes it more reliable feedback. Busuu can be used offline too, where your students can download content and access it even without a connection (probably to get away from distractions). Not many apps provide an offline method, so this is very welcome!

(Available – IOS/Android/Website)

5). FluentU

FluentU comes with 14 days free trial, than it is about 20 dollars per month at the time of writing. It is an exceptional app for English learning. Unlike other English-learning apps, it will not act as a buddy per se but follows a neutral and real approach to teach your students English. It may be difficult for some students, but the quality of FluentU is not compromisable.

You can state FluentU as a media-based app to learn English. FluentU collects and selects real-world videos like music videos, news videos, advertisements, or even movie trailers and develops them into personalized English-learning lessons. So basically, if your students are a fan of visuals over texts and reading, FluentU is for you. Interactive captions are also a feature of the app.

The most impressive feature of FluentU is that it acts as a budget app that keeps track of your expenses and investment and tells you possible plans and ways to maximize your budget, but FluentU keeps track of your learning and provides you with necessary practices to keep you on your feet.

(Availability – IOS/Android/Website)