Apps for ESL Learners

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of school-age children who spoke a language other than English at home rose from 4.7 to 11.2 million between 1980 and 2009—or from 10 to 21 percent of the population in this age range.

That's why it's important to become familiar with some of the iPad apps that can benefit ESL students in a variety of ways. First and foremost, the iPad enhances language acquisition. Teachers can customize the iPad to fit the language needs of the student. Student who own their own iPad have constant access to the English language.

Tilly's Petting Farm $1.99 - This app offers an interactive approach for students from ages four to seven years who need to learn basic vocabulary and sentences to increase memorization and understandings. In one part you can hear all sorts of fun phrases and sounds when you touch a picture. It also moves the image or something pops out. The other part consists of questions that can be answered by touching the appropriate picture. If the child answered a question incorrectly three times, a hint is shown. After five wrong answers a new question will automatically be asked.

Word BINGO $.99 - Four games in one using the Dolch Word List! Choose your list for Pre Primer to Third grade. Begin with spelling words by dragging the letter to the right box. The letter is pronounced aloud. Next play BINGO. The word is pronounced and the user finds it on the BINGO board; incorrect words are tracked. After completing BINGO, the student can continue with either Word Fling: 100 seconds to find as many BINGO Bugs as possible and fling them into the warp zone. The fourth game is Word it Up. This game is not only good for ESL, but also hand-eye coordination. Students have to stop the word blocks from stacking at the bottom of the screen.

Simplex Phonics $4.99 - Teaches a full year of spelling curriculum with over 450 high-frequency words divided into 42 lists that are organized by spelling patterns and difficulty levels. Each of the 42 lists comes with a lesson that teaches one of the basic building blocks of spelling in the English language. These basic building blocks include the different phonograms, sounds, and spelling rules. The app names the letter, states the sound and uses a sentence. If a student is struggling with a sound, press the hint button where the sounds will be made.

Kidioms $1.99 - How many times have we heard the idiom “I am as hungry as a horse” or other similar phrases? Here is an app that shares the idioms in an interactive notebook. The app gives the meaning and an example with a graphic. In elementary school idioms are part of the Common Core Standards for 3rd-5th grade. In addition this app is perfect for ESL students, students on the spectrum and students with developmental disabilities. The app incorporates three games to make the idiom experience fun and reinforce the meaning. The games include Word Drop, which challenges the learner to complete the idiom by choosing the correct missing word. Missing Word asks the user to spell the missing word. In Match-Up, the player selects the correct idiom to fill in the blank in a larger block of text. Match-up tracks student data out of 10 and percentage.

This app is so popular that Ventura Educational Systems added Kidioms 2 ($1.99) - more idioms- more fun, more learning and understanding the nuances of life.

Talk'n Photos $2.99 - Here is an app that is perfect for ESL, those with spectrum disorders, developmentally disabled, and young learners. Take photos or use photos from the Internet. Next, make album covers such as family. Insert family photos and record who they are. This app will enhance communication, social stories, vocabulary, comprehension and more.

Vicki Windman is a special education teacher at Clarkstown High School South.