Are you a busy online English teacher? Would you like to save time and sanity while creating a more enjoyable learning experience for your students? Well, have you considered adding English teaching apps to your online teaching toolkit?
You might hear “app”, and think “shiny object” or “distraction”. But in fact, English teaching apps can help you find students more easily, plan your lessons faster and even help your students practise English outside of class.
In this post, you’ll discover a few different types of apps to help your teaching:
- Apps for finding students
- Apps you probably have on your phone anyway that you can use to teach too
- Apps to make lesson planning easier
- Apps to encourage students to talk and use English outside of class
English Teaching Apps For Finding Students
Let’s start with apps for finding students because, if you don’t have students then you don’t have lessons to give!
The good news is that potential students can download tutoring marketplace apps and browse teaching profiles on the go. As they scroll, they may even come across you. This is going to be the simplest way to get students when you’re starting out.
You’ve probably heard of or even used iTalki as it’s one of the most famous language tutoring marketplaces. And it also exists in a handy app format.
You don’t need a degree to teach on iTalki but you will need a teaching certificate if you want to become a professional teacher rather than a community tutor.
To apply to become a teacher, you’ll need to use the desktop version of iTalki.
But once you’ve got the app on your phone, you can keep track of your bookings and contact your students within the app, including by voice message.
You can also adjust your schedule on the app – great for last minute emergencies. The teaching happens on video conferencing platforms such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or We Chat.
Preply is another example of a tutoring marketplace although it’s a little different to iTalki as you can teach a range of subjects there, not only languages.
Students can take their lessons via video call in the app or on the Preply website.
Preply students can also find English learning material within the app that they can use inside or outside of the lessons. The materials cover topics such as business English or life abroad.
As a tutor you can use the app to send messages to students and manage your schedule while you’re out and about. But to use all the available Preply features, you’ll need to log into the web version.
The Cambly app could be up your street if you’re new to teaching English and want to get your feet wet.
You don’t need a degree to teach with Cambly or a teaching certificate. You just need to want to chat to people from all over the world.
The pay is on the low side ($10.20 per hour), but you’ll be chatting 1:1 with adults who want to practise their conversational English.
Students can browse teacher profiles from within the app and choose the one that interests them the most. As a teacher, you’ll need to create an eye-catching profile intro and video.
But once you’re up and running, lessons are on-demand and you can do as few or as many as you’d like.
For the video call with your student, you should use a computer rather than the app. But you can use your phone to check your schedule, send messages, and cancel lessons if your computer isn't handy.
By the way, if you're interested in other ways to get students, here are 8 ways to find students as an online teacher.
Apps You’re Using Anyway That Can Become English Teaching Apps
Did you know that apps you probably have on your phone anyway can become English teaching apps with a little tweaking?
4. The Google Suite
Did you know that you can also use the Google Suite on the go in app format?
The most useful tool from a teaching perspective is Google Docs as they’re collaborative. So your students can write in them and you will be able to view and comment on their work.
You can also use Google sheets to keep track of your lessons and payments. And you can use Google Slides to create presentations to show students in lessons.
5. Messaging Apps
Have you got WhatsApp, Telegram, Voxer or other messaging apps on your phone? Did you know that you could use them with your students?
Thanks to these apps, you can create a discussion forum for students where they can practise using their English.
You can also encourage your students to communicate with you between lessons, by sending text or voice messages. By sending you voice messages, your students can practise their pronunciation or speaking skills. And you can send your feedback.
6. Video Conferencing Apps
Skype, Zoom, Facetime – you can find all of these apps on your phone too.
While it makes sense to give lessons on your laptop or desktop most of the time, you may want to mix things up a little now and again and use your phone.
If you’re chatting to a student on Skype or Zoom on your phone, then you can take them on a tour of your house, apartment or even local area (data and connection permitting) and they can do the same for you. This can make for a really fun lesson.
For more information on how to use these apps you have on your phone anyway, check out this post on online teaching tools.
English Teaching Apps To Make Lesson Planning Easier
Technically the two apps below are for English students studying independently. But there's no reason why you can't use them to make planning ESL lessons quicker and easier for you, as well as more enjoyable for your students.
7. BBC Learning English
This is the official BBC app where you’ll find learner and teacher favourites such as the extremely popular 6 Minute English podcast.
So how does this make your lesson planning easier?
Well, you can ask students to listen to the podcast outside of class, and then in class, you chat about it together.
You can also set other preparation activities to do, such as transcribing a section of the podcast, or looking up any new words.
You’ll find other podcasts and programmes in the app such as “The English We Speak” (for learning cool new expressions) or “English at Work” (for the business English teachers out there) and “English in a Minute”.
The app also contains grammar quizzes and explanations, pronunciation training and more.
8. British Council Learn English Podcasts
As an alternative to the app mentioned above, you could also use the British Council’s equivalent in the same way.
Your learners can find new podcasts added every week with features such as an interactive transcript and quizzes.
They also have a video equivalent for learners who prefer watching videos to listening to podcasts. Plus they have grammar and pronunciation apps that your students may enjoy using outside of class or that you could even integrate into the lessons.
English Teaching Apps To Get Your Students Learning Outside Of Class
As you may have noticed if you’ve been teaching for a while, English learners who get the best results often do so thanks to the work that they do outside of class.
While some will be motivated self-starters, others will need some encouragement to learn between lessons.
And these English teaching apps will motivate them to use their English and revise what you’ve worked on in class thanks to a fun learning interface they can access on the go.
Flipgrid is a social learning app that uses video to engage students. You can send your students “topics” (video plus text) in the app and then they can create a short video to respond to them.
All the recording and creation is done within the app’s software and videos can be re-recorded if needed. Learners can also add emojis, text and other elements to their video.
As you can imagine, this is perfect for language learners as it enables them to get speaking practice. Working asynchronously like this also enables them to think and prepare what they’re going to say more carefully than when they’re speaking live in a lesson.
Here's what English teacher Vickie Kelty, a keen user of the the app, has to say about it:
Flipgrid provides a unique speaking opportunity for English learners of all ages and speaking levels. My students love the convenience, the privacy, and how the back-and-forth nature of sending videos and responding to others feels similar to a real conversation. As a teacher, I love the adaptability of the app so I can create a mix of fun and serious language learning options to meet my students' needs.Vickie Kelty, vickiekelty.com
Quizlet is a flashcards app that you can use to learn any subject, including languages.
In fact, if you’ve been through a StoryLearning® course, you’ll know that Quizlet is the app we use to get you to practise language you’ve learned in the story.
You’ll find some ready-made flashcards and quizzes within Quizlet. But you can also create decks for your students or even encourage them to create their own. The upside is that they'll get immediate feedback on their answers.
You can create vocabulary quizlets where you create flashcards and then a matching game i.e you match a word and its meaning. There’s also a version where you listen to the audio of a word and then type, like a dictation exercise.
It’s even possible to create grammar versions of quizlets where students pick the correct form of a particular tense for instance.
Kahoot is an educational app that enables teachers to quickly and easily create quizzes or learning games for their students.
You can create these “kahoots” (learning games) on your computer or in the app. Plus, you can add videos, including videos from YouTube, and images to your kahoots.
While students can complete kahoots on their own on their device, you can also bring the games into your online lessons as you can play kahoots in class by using screen sharing. And what’s more, your students can even create their own kahoots.
If that all sounds like too much, you’ll also find 40 million games that have already been created by other app users!
The 11 Best English Teaching Apps
So there you have it – 11 English teaching apps you can get started with today to enhance your teaching whether you want to find new students, inject some fun into your lessons with quizzes and games or adapt the apps you have on your phone anyway to online teaching.
These apps will make your life easier as a busy online English teacher. So don't hesitate to download them and try them out. You'll soon see if they're for you, and more importantly, if your students enjoy them too.
If you're not sure where to start, I recommend you pick one that addresses your current biggest pain point, whether that's finding students or reducing lesson planning time. Time to let technology make your life easier thanks to these English teaching apps!