The 9 Best Mobile Apps for Your ESL Students

The 9 Best Mobile Apps for Your ESL Students

If you haven’t witnessed the explosion of Smartphone popularity, you have been living under a rock.

Thousands upon thousands of applications are available from Apple’s App Store, Android Market or Blackberry App World, and the number of downloads are astounding; millions are downloaded – every month. There are apps for everything you can imagine from productivity apps to apps to help you manage your finances. And, of course, there are language-learning apps. Now, as ESL teachers, should we capitalize on the Smartphone phenomenon and recommend language-learning apps for our students? Check out the list below and reach your own conclusions.


The Hard Facts about Mobile Language Learning Apps

  • Smartphone ownership is on the rise all over the world. In the US alone, half of American adults own a Smartphone (source).
  • Fifty percent of US mobile subscribers download apps (source).
  • Millions of apps are downloaded every month – all over the world (source).

Advantages of Recommending Language Learning Apps to Students

  • Convenience – The mobility of these devices provides students with the chance to study/review any day, any time, without the need to remember to bring their books or class materials.
  • Efficiency – Most apps are tremendously user-friendly and well-organized into topics. This means students don’t waste any time looking for what they want to practice.
  • Engagement – Language learning apps are the ideal tool to engage learners who are very tech-minded and naturally enjoy using gadgets.

So, if you have students who are tech-savvy and love trying out new apps, here are some that are the perfect complement to their ESL classes:

The 9 Best ESL Mobile Apps for Your Students

  1. 1


    This language-learning app features more than 3,000 words and expressions and covers a wide range of topics through comprehensive vocabulary sections and interactive tests. Levels include beginner to advanced, and it is available for download on iPhone and Android (20 units are free and remaining content is available upon purchase).

  2. 2

    SpeakingPal English Tutor

    A very entertaining and highly-interactive app, it features a series of mini-lessons of approximately 5 minutes, so students have no excuses when it comes to making the most of idle time. The student interacts with the app through speech recognition software that recreates a real video call. It’s available for download on iPhone or Android for free.

  3. 3


    This is a tremendously popular app, particularly in the Spanish-speaking market. It features news and stories on a variety of topics, and provides games for language practice, plus short quizzes to test comprehension. It can be downloaded for free on iPhone and Android.

  4. 4


    This app was developed by the British Council in conjunction with Cambridge University Press and offers a wonderful, engaging way to learn new words through sets of interactive flashcards. Additional vocabulary packs may be downloaded from Cambridge dictionaries. Available for free on iPhone and Android.

  5. 5

    Conversation English

    This app features 20 lessons, each with a video dialogue. The app gives learners the option to read the conversation and then answer questions and complete a variety of exercises. It’s a great app for those who wish to practice more conversational English. It’s available for download on iTunes.

  6. 6

    English Grammar in Use Tests

    Developed by Cambridge University Press and based on the successful Grammar in Use series, this app allows students to practice English grammar as a series of “tests” that are more akin to games. It’s not free, but it’s one of the best apps for students who want some grammar practice on the go. There is also a complete series of apps based on the Grammar in Use books available for iPhone.

  7. 7

    IELTS Master Vocabulary Guide

    This is the perfect app for students who want to take the Cambridge IELTS examination. It is the perfect complement to the book and helps students prepare for the test by providing plenty of vocabulary practice. It’s available for download on iTunes as well as its other versions for TOEIC, TOEFL, etc…

  8. 8

    Cambridge Advanced Learners’ Dictionary

    There is a large variety of dictionary apps available, most of them more affordable than this one (lots are even free!), but this dictionary is certainly more affordable than its print version. Definitely worth the price.

  9. 9

    Oxford Deluxe Dictionary and Thesaurus of English

    It is probably one of the most expensive apps available for English learners, but there are none more comprehensive than this one. This app basically contains the complete Oxford Dictionary, plus the thesaurus, with the added audio feature. It’s ideal for students who have the money to spend and don’t want to carry a big, bulky dictionary around.

These are but a few of the hundreds of apps available for mobile learning.

If you have tried any and would like to recommend them, please tell us about them in the comments below!

What is your verdict? Do you believe these are valuable tools for ESL learners or simply flashy apps for gadget lovers? Sound off in the comments below!

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