Saturday 5 June 2010

ipod Touch/ iphone Applications for The Language Teacher (Part 1)

I acquired an iphone just about 2 months ago and since then, I have been on a journey of discovery to see what really can be used to support language learners and teachers.

I have been focusing on free and inexpensive applications (59p, £1-odd), with only one language-related application just breaking the £5 barrier. Some applications can be more expensive up to about £15, which is still good value for reference material like the extensive version of bilingual dictionaries, for instance. However, paying more is not a guarantee that the application will be more useful or user-friendly. Likewise, some applications will require live internet links so consideration needs to be given about when they are most likely to be used and where: at home or at work or on the go. Indeed, some free or paying applications requiring no live connections and may be more suitable for use on the go or abroad.

Applications are released, featured and re-featured on a regular basic but their price can also vary depending if they have just been released. A number of free applications are also “lite” with the option to buy a full version once the lite version has been tested. The functionality of free lite applications varies widly and while some are not worth keeping without upgrading, some definitely are.

Some of the applications I will mention would be useful to most people, even if you don’t happen to be a language teacher. They just make your life tidier and more organised. Other applications have a specific focus on teaching, learning in general and language learning in particular.

You have not got an iphone or an ipod touch?? A lot of these applications will have versions available for other types of smartphone, only now, this may give you an idea of what could be out there!!


Skype (free): I hear Skype is planning to charge for skype-to-skype calls using the 3G network even if called supported by wifi will still be free. I have found Skype a brilliant way to use text with anybody abroad as well as using good quality voice calls for free, of course.

Tweeetdeck (free): A classic Twitter client although there are many many more available including Twitter’s own newly released iphone client and Seesmic.

Edutecher (free): Great application to find subject-related sites and ed-tech tools. A selection of ed-tech videos is also available as well as a copy of their Twitter feed and a search function.

Imindmap (free): simple mindmaps that can be exported and emailed

SimpleMindmaps (free): mindmaps can be saved to desktop, exported or saved to camera roll.

Diigo (free): Great to bookmark new sites from the safari browser although the bookmarklet does not allow for saving to groups (free): useful to share documents between various locations. I have a box on my blog and I can add to it via my phone.

Dropbox (free): very handy to transfer back-up copies of documents to your phone. Just drop a copy in dropbox folder and a copy will appear on your phone

Linkedin (free): more serious professional networking tool, it also has a wide range of groups for linguists and teachers that are worth keeping an eye on

Evernote(free): good to make notes and add audio or pictures to them. Notes can also be emailed too.

TED (free): really interesting speakers featuring in podcasts and videos

Teaching UK(free)-News, ideas and twitter feed

Tumblr(free): for quick logging of text, photo, quotes, link, chat, audio, video-great to keep it all in one place and could be used to collect material to be used later for more thought-through blog posts.

SaveMyDoc lite (free), just put in the url to download the document onto your phone

Errands (free): to do list with scheduling and mailing facility

Schoolbook (free): great to get to learn your new timetable, particularly if it is a two-weekly one.


Ipadio (free): broadcast, record, play back and share high quality audio up to 60 minutes in length. Recorded calls can be shared on Twitter, Facebook, Wordpress, Posterous, Blogger and more...

VR+lite (free): simple recorder for messages to be shared by email or social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or Blogger. Recordings can be made private or public. A short audio watermark is attached to recording on the lite version (full version costs £1.19)To be able to edit and receive free storage you need to sign up for VR+Online (free)

I SaidWhat?! (£0.59): simple recorder allowing to do some sound editing directly from your iphone: record, import sound file, cut, arrange snippets, duplicate, share via email, Facebook or Twitter.

Irevise lite (free): revision timetable, notebooks to write summary, prompt cards for key words, audio recording with gaps for answers.

Photo/ picture resources

Flickr (free): A great way to back up the pictures on your phone, pictures from Flickr’s favourites can also be saved onto your phone quite easily.

Flickr (free): A great way to back up the pictures on your phone, pictures from Flickr’s favourites can also be saved onto your phone quite easily. (free) simple tool to edit photos directly on your phone: crop, straighten, flip, rotate, exposure, contrast, colours, black and white, sketch, effects, borders, pictures can be saved, uploaded and posted to Facebook and TwitPic.

Art (£0.59 for full version-lite version available): Excellent source of Art and information about international artists-great stimuli to discuss colours, shapes and produce extended description or even stories in the foreign language! Pictures can be saved onto your camera roll or emailed and saved onto a laptop.

99 Happy Paintings (free): can be viewed, exported, used as wallpaper and emailed for copying and importing into teaching resources.

Thanks for adding a comment if you know of more applications that would be of use to language teachers...
More to come...


Unknown said...

Hi, I have wordreference digs in French and Spanish which I use quite a lot in class and also allow my students to use on their iPhone/iPod

Venette Cook said...

Wonderful list. I am considering a new phone, thinking Iphone or one of the new Android phones. Better service plan for the Android phone. Do you know which of these applications would also work on other phones. Good to know for myself as I buy, and for students who may have/get other phones.

Thanks for sharing.

Isabelle Jones said...

Dear Gisele and Venette
Thanks for your comments.
I am not sure which applications would also work on the Android phone but there should be a search facility on the application store for you to find out. A lot of these applications are also available for Blackberries-a type of phone that more and more students seem to have-but the viewing experience will be slightly different. More and more apps are being designed for non-iphones so provided you know the type of app you are looking for, you are very likely to find equivalents-and more and more of them as the time goes by... Do let me know if you end up compiling a similar list for Android phone!!