Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

The Best Mobile Apps For English Language Learners


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I’ve been putting some effort this year into thinking how to encourage my English Language Learner students, particularly Beginners, to make language-learning a part of their entire day — not just the time they are in school or doing homework.

I’ve written about one attempt at Having English Language Learners Use Cellphones To Identify High-Interest Vocabulary.

And I definitely encourage them to use various online tools at home — if they have an Internet connection.

I’ve also been paying some attention to mobile apps — most of my students now have some kind of smartphone (always Android — an iPhone is just too expensive for them). Just as many of us use apps when we have a little time to “kill,” I figure students are often in the same position.

The issue, though, is identifying apps that are engaging enough for them to want to use it.

Duolingo seems to fit the bill, and is on The Best Sites For Learning Spanish Online and to The Best Multilingual & Bilingual Sites For Learning English. It’s rapidly expanding its offerings, and has been praised in the media a lot recently.

My students have recently downloaded it, and seem to like it a lot.

The British Council, of course, has some nice apps.

And Android Authority put together a decent list over a year ago.

Mobile learning: How students can improve their English anytime, anywhere is from The British Council. Launches App ELLs Might Like

Duolingo Gets A Whole Lot Better…

Teaching tips: How students can use their mobile phones to learn English is from The British Council.

Speaking Pal is a mobile app that “Interact with a virtual video tutor in short fun dialogs on your mobile and get instant pronunciation feedback. A natural speaking experience powered by Speech Recognition technology and innovative scoring logic.” I haven’t tried it yet, but it does have quite a few positive reviews.

English Central, one of my, and my students’, favorite online English language-learning sites, has just unveiled a free mobile app.

The New York Times has published the above video along with an article reviewing apps useful for English Language Learners.

It’s titled English Grammar Aids for Both Native Speakers and Students.

English Grammar Activities App Helps Students Learn Grammar Rules appeared in Edudemic.

Beelinguapp looks like a potentially very useful app. It shows you the text of a book/story in the target language and the home language, and reads the target language to you as both sentences are highlighted. I like the concept a lot. It’s an electronic version of what I do with my adolescent ELLs now – provide them with a high-interest book in English and another copy in their home language – they read the English version with the home language copy also open. I’ll certainly encourage my students to download the app after Winter Break. Unfortunately, though, the app’s library seems pretty limited at the moment and, though it has free “books,” it seems pretty expensive to buy new ones.

Voice Tube looks sort of like a not-as-sophisticated English Central, though I don’t mean that as an insult. It has a limited collection of videos, but seems to have several, though not all, of the features at English Central. Nik Peachey writes about it here. It’s web-based, but also has phone apps,

Also, check out this older list:

The Best Tablet & Smartphone Apps For English Language Learners

What free mobile apps have you found ELLs to like, and be useful? I’ll add them to this list…. (I’m primarily looking for apps that students can download for their use outside of school, but would also love to hear about others, too).

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.


  1. Hi Larry,
    Sorry if this post gets to you twice but I’m not sure if it got through the first time.
    Why don’t you check out – a service for learners I’ve just launched. It’s predominantly for language learners and it is also available in two free mobile apps: for iOS and Android.
    Hope you like it.
    Ray Sawka

  2. Try award-winning @SpeakingPal for a unique focus on the #English #speaking skill. The learner talks with a video character on his/her mobile and gets instant feedback on how all words and sentences were pronounced. Winner of SXSWedu 2013! Very interactive and engaging learning experience that uses automatic #speech recognition with proprietary scoring logic.

  3. Do you know of an app that doesn’t require reading to learn English? A simply verbal one? I have students who are trying to learn to speak, but also to read for the first time – in any language. They can’t read fast enough to take advantage of the playback feature on the ‘speakingpal’ app, which is a shame.

  4. I think a nice way to learn english is to play some sort of free typing game like AutoCorrects, no one should pay to learn a language.

    Since that game grants you score for autocorrects, typing speed and correct spelling,

    that can be just what you need. Because this adds fun features to a learning process and because it’s boring to just practice,
    in the end it’ll actually teach you words in English, you know you pick one word a time it’ll teach you how to spell correctly.

    You can just as well use any other typing game or something in the area, thought that one is free. don’t be square about the ways you learn English.
    I learned mostly from TV and the internet.
    If you want to that’s the app I talked about:

  5. You can also find language partners and speak to native speakers at:

    Easy and free.

  6. A great app for learning languages and vocabulary is ‘Phrase Maze for Quizlet’ , an online/mobile game (free too!). It’s a fun game which has various modes with differing degrees of difficulty. It imports vocabulary/phrase lists from Quizlet (with optional pics), has TTS audio and tracks your progress.



  7. One of the best ways to improve your English is to read the newspapers in English or listen to the radio.

    Reading newspaper can improve your reading and writing skill as well as increasing vocabulary.

    This way you can kill two birds with one stone : keep up-to-date with current world events and improve your English skills easily.

  8. Duolingo is my personal favorite. Another app I use daily to help my pronunciation is
    It’s very helpful to learn the IPA and lookup pronunciation of words

  9. Hi Larry,
    We have just released our ESL Taboo app. It is very useful to teach vocabulary and fast-thinking skills. Here you can read more about it and also download it for iOS devices;

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