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ESL Apps: 15 English Language Learning Apps for iPhone and Android

Smartphones and tablets aren’t just for games! They can also prove to be great tools for English language learning or practice (sometimes, even those are games). There are tons of apps on the market for learners at any level. If you, or someone you know, is working on his or her English skills, these apps might be for you.

The British Council’s goal is to “offer high quality English materials to every learner, or teacher who wants them, around the world,” and their app selection reflects it. The British Council has apps available on Android, iPhone or iPad, Blackberry, and Ovi covering a range of topics.

- LearnEnglish Audio and Video features English learning podcats and videos, which is a good way to get English immersion.

LearnEnglish Audio and Video

- LearnEnglish Grammar helps users improve their grammar skills.

- MyWordBook 2 is described as an “interactive vocabulary network” from which users can download word lists.

- Wordshake is a game that resembles Boggle; it gives users a grid of letters and a time limit in which to find as many words as possible.

Cambridge English Language Teaching also has a suite of apps available for English learners. The apps are available on Android, iPhone and iPad, Blackberry and Windows.

Apps for English Learning

- Their vocabulary apps include free and paid apps about phrasal verbs and a series called English Vocabulary in Use for elementary, intermediate, and advanced learners.

- Cambridge offers grammar in the form of English Grammar in Use, which includes Activities, Tests, and Essentials at several levels.

- They also have dictionary, pronunciation and practice exam applications available, as well as a handful of games like Wordpic! and English Monstruo.

A favorite of the language learning community is Anki. Anki is a flashcard program that uses a spaced repetition system to help students learn new things. Users can create their own flashcard decks or download decks that have been shared by other users. The app can be synchronized with its desktop companion so students can learn at the PC or on their mobile devices.

When making cards, Anki users can include images, audio or video clips. Anki also lets users set up Cloze prompts on a card, include color, or any number of other rich text features. Anki is also an open source product, which means that it won’t suddenly upgrade, leaving users without access to their cards. The flashcards are really only limited to what users can imagine; they could include vocabulary, phrases, complete sentences, grammar, or picture cues.

busuu app

Busuu is a popular app that is also part of a language learning community. It features over 3,000 words and key phrases and is appropriate for learners who are just starting to advanced-intermediate English speakers. Busuu has phrases to help with over 150 topics and it teaches using situations from daily life. It incorporates a variety of media types and all the recordings are from native English speakers.

Kids English Vocabulary is an app designed for students just beginning to work in English. This app is a great introduction for beginners just starting to learn vocabulary basics.

English Verb Trainer offers education and practice on common English verbs. This app is particularly handy because it can run offline, so students don’t need to have a connection in order to practice. This app can help students learn how to conjugate that pesky ‘be’ verb and many others.


About author: Angie Picardo is a writer for the personal finance website, NerdWallet, where you can find information on apps and the benefits of a financial advisor.

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