Having the top apps at your fingertips, to help you develop your English skills, is very important.
Our world is now in the height of smart mobile technology, and almost everything can be done using a smartphone or similar device.
There are now thousands of educational apps available, which makes learning something each student can adapt to in their own ways.
Educational apps, especially, form such an important part of everyday learning now, that having access to the best software, and links to the top educational publishers on any chosen device, is key.
This reduces the physical weight of carrying books around, and makes life so much easier for students!
When you’re trying to learn a new language, it is important to have as much useful information about the language, and different ways of absorbing it, whenever you need it.
You don’t just want any app – you want the best ones on the market. Apps that are not just good for value, but also great for improving your English on the go! For this reason, I have compiled a list of some of the best iOS apps you can get, for learning English.
There are obviously hundreds of apps that you can use to improve your English grammar, reading, writing and even conversation skills – but here are some of the most popular ones:
1. English Grammar in Use Tests (€3.99)
Cambridge offers a wide range of books, most of which, you can get in the form of apps. These are available in different levels and skill sets, as well as different prices.
Some are free, whereas others come at a small price, but they are all well worth having, so pick the one that meets your needs best. http://www.cambridgeapps.org/
You may have used the Cambridge ‘English Grammar in Use’ books before. If you have, then you’ll probably jump at the chance of getting this app, because the books are so good!
Although it has the word ‘Tests’ in the title, it’s not solely for testing purposes, it is more of a game, and is quite fun!
When you have installed the app, you can choose if you want to work through the ‘practice’ exercises, or ‘test’ yourself. The ‘practice’ mode allows you to pick a skill to work on i.e. grammar, and see how well you do before you go for the test.
The test has quite a standard format, with gap-filling exercises, which turn ‘green’ if correct, and ‘red’ if incorrect. This app also has a ‘scores and statistics’ page, where you can track how well you’re doing and see how quickly you’re improving!
2. Conversation English ($2.99)
Conversation English is quite a popular app with many smartphone owners. It is on the recommended list of iTunes ESL apps, and is widely recognised by English learners all over the world.
At a great price you get to enjoy a whole range of lessons that help you to improve your conversation, speaking, and listening skills. It also teaches you over 200 common English idioms and expressions!
Each lesson includes exercises in 5 key skills, which are Comprehension, Conversation Reading, Conversation Listening, Vocabulary, and Sentence Completion.
This app also includes an idiomatic expressions dictionary with audio pronunciation!
3. Hello, Hello (Free Trial / $14.99)
This is another favourite on iTunes. It is one of the top-selling apps in the US, and some of the major European countries. It focuses mainly on conversation, and was developed in affiliation with one of the most prestigious language institutions in America – The Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
It emphasises American English and teaches conversation using real-life situations, so it uses in-context words and phrases, which you can relate to in everyday life. Dialogues are broken down so that you improve your pronunciation and writing skills.
It enables you to build your vocabulary bank with hundreds of interactive flashcards, and also allows you to practise alternating words and phrases using the ‘Build Your Vocabulary’ exercise.
This app has visually pleasing graphics, and you don’t need an internet or Wi-Fi connection to use it once it has been downloaded!
Although the trial version is free, you have to pay $14.99 for the full package, but it is well worth the price!
4. Cambridge Advanced Learners Talking Dictionary (€17.99)
There are hundreds of dictionaries available on the market, so it can sometimes be hard to choose the best one. There are also many free dictionaries available, but you can only expect to get what you pay, out of them. This dictionary app is just as complete as the actual paper, and CD-ROM versions, and is cheaper!
If you have already found a dictionary that you find very useful, then stick to it. But if you are looking for one that doesn’t lack anything, this would be the one!
Despite the price, it is a great tool for self-study, and has everything you could want from a dictionary. Including audio pronunciation and much, much more.
5. Busuu (Free)
Busuu is a very popular language learning app that is also fun, simple and informative. And the best part is – it’s free!
It was voted PC Magazine’s ‘Best Free Language Learning App of 2013’!
Using everyday situations, it teaches you over 3,000 key words and phrases. You learn all the basics through a variety of vocabulary and grammar lessons, audio dialogues and interactive tests.
Then you get to submit the exercises you’ve learnt into a community of over 35 million native speakers, who then help you to practise what you’ve learnt through conversation, and give you feedback! You can also take a fun quiz to see how much you have improved.
This is a quality course based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), a widely recognised framework for language learning.
6. English at Work ($2.99)
This is an excellent app if you are looking to improve your English Language skills in the workplace. It is a fun way of practising and improving your use of English in the office, as well as your Business English!
It teaches over 150 useful words, expressions, and idioms that are most commonly used in the business world. It also helps you to develop your listening, conversation, e-mail writing, and telephone skills.
If you want to focus on improving your English for your job, then you couldn’t ask for more from an app! Great package for the price.
7. Gengo Flashcards (Free Trial / $5.99)
This is an app designed by InnovativeLanguage.com, and is a flashcard-based learning system.
It allows you to use different methods to improve your language skills, through vivid photos, audio sounds of native English speakers, and useful vocabulary lists.
It shows you the written word, the picture, and plays the pronunciation all at the same time, enabling you to take in the information, and memorise it in different ways.
The free version includes flashcards based on fruit and weather, but if you get the full version, you have access to a whole range of topics!
This app also gives you the option to choose if you would like to learn American English, or British English.
8. IELTS Master Vocabulary Guide (€4.99)
If you are currently preparing for the Cambridge IELTS exam, then you would definitely find this app very useful.
It can be used alone, but is more resourceful when used in conjunction with the book. You can choose from different levels, and it also comes with a glossary and various vocabulary tests.
This is very beneficial if you are preparing for the exam, and need something compact and mobile, to use for revision on a long journey instead of the book.
If you would like something similar for a different exam such as TOEFL or TOEIC, Cambridge also offer different apps to meet your requirements – http://www.cambridgeapps.org/
9. Grammar Up (Free)
This is a very useful free app, if you are looking to improve your grammar, or if you are preparing for a test, as it helps to improve your response time in exam conditions.
It has a custom timer setting, so you can see how long it takes you to answer a certain set of questions, and potentially improve it!
The exercises have a business focus, which is commonly found in English proficiency tests such as TOEIC. It improves your use of word selection, grammar, and vocabulary.
You can study the grammar rules by topic, and focus on the ones you struggle with the most. These include adjectives, adverbs, conditionals, nouns, prepositions, verb tenses, and many more!
When taking the test, you can also focus on individual topics, or you can take the mixed test, which covers all the topics for more of a challenge!
It also has a progress metre, where you can track how well you do in each test, allowing you to focus on the areas you find the hardest.
10. Learn English Grammar (Free Trial / £0.69 per pack)
This is one of the best interactive apps designed to help improve your precision in English grammar. You can choose from a range of levels, or you can start from the ‘beginner’ level, then increase as you improve!
It contains thousands of practice questions, and over 600 grammar activities, which are split into different topics and each topic has a range of activities such as multiple choice, gap-filling etc.
You can go through the practice questions in your own time, or even challenge yourself by taking some of the tests.
You can choose if you would like to learn in American English or British English, and it even offers help and instructions in some of the major languages from around the world!
The introductory pack is free, then you are given the option to purchase a higher level as you get better. Well worth it for the price!
The British Council offers a whole selection of apps that can be used on many different devices, if you would like an app for practising something other than grammar, visit http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/apps.
11. iLearn English (Free)
This is fantastic app for learning on the move, while you are travelling, or even just relaxing at home. It is straightforward to use, and you can learn a new word in 5 minutes!
The great thing is, this app doesn’t just give you a random selection of vocabulary that you have to learn, you can pick the categories that you want to focus on! Whether that would be vocabulary for the office, shopping or anything else.
It also has a vocabulary tool that recognises which words you are familiar with the most, and ‘learns’ to show you words that you find relative. It also includes writing and listening exercises to ensure that you are getting the full learning experience, whatever your learning style may be!
12. MyWordBook 2 (Free)
MyWordBook is an interactive app which is predominately to be used as a vocabulary notebook.
It teaches you the most important words in the English language through the use of interactive flashcards which contain pictures, sounds, example sentences, translations and notes to help you memorise better! All word data used comes from Cambridge University Press’ learner dictionaries.
This app provides topic by topic learning, so you can choose to study the categories that you struggle with the most. It includes useful tips on the best ways to learn new vocabulary, and you can create your own flashcards for any new words that you learn, so it’s easier for you to remember them!
Another great feature s that you can sync all your devices so that whether you’re learning from you smartphone, laptop, or iPad, they will all have the same information. You can even share your words with friends through Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail!
Although this app is free, you may have to pay other charges within the app, if you would like to buy different word packs for a higher or lower level, or different categories.
13. Sounds: The Pronunciation App (Free)
This app is renowned to be the ultimate mobile English pronunciation aid, for both students AND teachers. It helps you study, practise and play with pronunciation wherever you are.
This free version includes Interactive Phonemic Charts for British English and American English. You tap to hear a sound, or tap and hold to hear the sound and an example word.
The Premium version (costs £3.99) includes some additional features that are quite useful, but the free app is quite brilliant too!
As a brief comparison, the free version offers an ‘interactive phonemic chart’ with high quality audio, a video which introduces you to the chart, and helps you understand how it works, and also provides tasters of both the Practice and Quiz modes from the Premium version.
In addition to the features of the free app, the premium version also includes a vocabulary word list (with over 650 words), phonemic transcriptions and audio, the function to record your own pronunciation, a whole variety of practice activities (Listen, Read and Write), numerous quizzes, top tips, and a workshop video!
14. English Idioms Illustrated (Free)
If you struggle to understand idiomatic expressions, or hear too many but don’t know what they mean – this app is your answer!
This app is popular among students, teachers and enthusiasts alike. The first idioms you get are free, and there is also a free idiom that changes daily, so you’re always learning a new one!
If you decide that you would like more idioms, then you can buy one of the bundles available as in-app purchases from $0.99 and “The Complete A-Z bundle!” includes 200 idioms. Not bad for the price!
15. Howjsay – Pronunciation Dictionary (Free)
This wonderful invention is a talking dictionary, that doesn’t just tell you the definition of a word, but also how the words are pronounced!
It includes over 150,000 words, has an impressive one-step access to fast-loading, and boasts clear sounds. You can easily search on-line to retrieve latest additions to the dictionary. It also has a comprehensive database, which includes medical terms, industry jargon and even current affairs.
The howjsay database is too large to download in one go and is being continuously updated, for this reason, an internet connection is required to download the audio and perform new searches, but you can still access 1,000 word history offline!
16. Voxy (Free Trial / $19.99 monthly)
Now this app brings English learning into a whole new dimension!
Voxy is the first app with English courses that adapt to your level, interests and goals. Currently over 2.5 million learners around the world are learning with Voxy. They even offer one free one-on-one session with a certified tutor!
It can also be personalised for anyone preparing to take the TOEFL or similar examinations. Their bite size lessons adapt to your needs, and you can speak with certified, native English-speaking tutors, whenever you want. All the content you learn through this app is relevant to your day to day tasks.
Voxy can work on any of your devices such as computer, tablet or smartphone. What it does is quite simple, it tests your level for free, helps you to set your goals, you get on a course, complete 18 skill based lessons, and take a test on what you learnt!
Also, if you pass your test, you get awards to help you change level and move up!
They definitely have a proven method, as their core pedagogy is based on recent research in second language acquisition, mobile technology and cognitive science. They recently conducted two studies which proved that Voxy students increased their exposure to English by 117% and improved their TOEFL scores by 22%
Now although the initial version is free, some of the best things do come at a price! The premium subscription automatically renews each month starting at $19.99 USD, and is charged through your linked account. Don’t forget, you can easily turn off the auto-renewal function at any time.
It’s definitely worth it’s price!
17. Word Challenge (Free)
Now, this app is a game, but it is such an efficient way to teach, that it makes learning with Word Challenge fun and educational at the same time!
Word Challenge employs a quiz format designed to drill users on vocabulary terms and parts of speech. Each of the 12 free levels represents a separate part of speech. (Additional levels are available for purchase, but this is optional).
The aim is to match the correct word from a group of 9 possible answers to the definition provided. If the selection is correct, the light bulb beside each word blows out. If the selection is incorrect, users are given another chance. At the end of each round, users are presented with another quiz where they must match 18 words into nine pairs by making connections between them. The users’ percentile is displayed as they progress through the rounds.
Hours of entertainment, while you learn!
18. Exam Vocabulary Builder (Free)
This app has been designed by AccelaStudy. It uses an intuitive flashcard-like approach on your smartphone device, you can quickly expand your English vocabulary for graduate school exams, university entrance exams, professional advancement, or to simply increase language proficiency.
Many commonly tested vocabulary words from college and graduate school entrance exams are included with definitions, synonyms, and example sentences.
Easily learn new terms with four different ways to study, including a powerful quiz feature which helps you test your progress and a spaced repetition mode which helps you memorise words in the shortest possible time.
Each word has 2 original, illustrative sentences to help you understand how each word is used in context. The spaced repetition feature helps you to quickly memorize new words, and track your progress.
You are also able to search the entire vocabulary list to find a definition and easily scroll through all matching words, and organise your words into an unlimited number of study sets!
You can even test yourself in quiz mode by matching a definition to one of several possible answers, and select easy or challenging levels as you please! Words are clearly identified in groups as nouns, adjectives, and verbs.
It allows you to save your progress between study sessions, and you can truly study anywhere as no internet connection is required!
If you like the free Exam Vocabulary Builder by AccelaStudy, you can accelerate your learning further by purchasing one of the other Vocabulary Builder titles specifically designed for SAT, ACT, TOEFL and many more!
19. English Verb Trainer (Free)
If you would you like to master irregular English verbs better. Just have a go on the English Verb Trainer for a few minutes every day. For each verb, you are prompted to write the irregular form, again and again until you know them all by heart.
The program trains the 150 most used irregular verbs – with a few regular ones thrown in to keep you on your toes.
Learn and practice the conjugations of the most common English verbs.
Ideal for everybody who wants to learn English, and can also be used as a preparation tool for trips to the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (USA), Canada and other English speaking countries.
A premium version of this app is available if you would like to include more verbs and tenses.
20. Speech Tutor (£6.99)
Whether you’re a speech and language pathologist (SLP), an SLP college student, a parent of children with speech delays, or just someone who is trying to improve their American English accent, you’re going to find this an invaluable app.
This app is the first of its kind in the field, Speech Tutor brings the latest in technology and animation to the world of speech.
The animations inside Speech Tutor take the areas of the face that impede the view of tongue placement and positioning and make them transparent. Now one can literally see inside the mouth as the sounds are being made!
Speech Tutor offers a “Side View” and a “Front View” of each sound production, both of which can be viewed at 3 different speeds (slow, medium, fast). The movies can also be paused at any given point. With 132 animations in all, Speech Tutor is sure to offer a helpful view for everyone.
Speech Tutor does not stop there though. You can begin the application by reading an easy to understand “Basics” tutorial, which provides you with a solid foundation of the basic knowledge needed to know before attempting to improve any, or all of the English consonants.
Also provided is detailed text specific to each sound that further describes how each sound is technically made, tips provided by licensed speech and language pathologists, and milestones for when each sound should be acquired and mastered.
Along with viewing the animations, one can also view a “Palate” diagram to further demonstrate where on the palate the tongue should be placed.
Last but not least, users of the application can choose to record themselves as they practice their target sounds, and then choose to play it before and after a correctly modelled production!
21. SpeakingPal English Tutor (Free)
This is one of the highest recommended apps by some of the leading speech improvement specialists. You speak with a video character and get instant feedback. You speak English and SpeakingPal understands!
Anyone can improve their English speaking skills, from beginners to business and academic needs.
It includes hours of fun video content, more than 100 levels, 1000 different dialogues, 1800 sentences, 1300 vocabulary, and hundreds of quiz questions! Plus 16 free levels !!!
The automatic speech recognition feature understands and rates your speech. You get instant colour-coded feedback on your pronunciation, plus you can record and compare your speech with a native English speaker!
This version of the app is free, but there are in-app purchases available if you would like to increase your learning capacity.
Now with these apps you can learn, practice, play and improve your English, wherever you are!!