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ESL Learning Apps and Programs

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S Campbell

on 23 March 2014

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Transcript of ESL Learning Apps and Programs

ESL Learning Apps and Programs

Shakespeare in Bits
While not specific to ESL I found this online technology very interesting. In a technology based school this can greatly eliminate paper waste and encourages students to use new technology, which also conveniently allows for backups of all data to be keep online. That's right... a way to eliminate the, "my computer crashed" excuse. With a free google account on both the student and the teacher's part, files and project can be shared online allowing the teacher access to view a student's progress and help them along the right path, especially without handing them back a paper marked with red.
How it works...
Both the teacher and the student must have a google account and drive. The student loads their project to google drive and share it with their teacher. The teacher can then log onto Kaizena.com, log into their google drive, and search for the document they want to leave comments on. The student must "share" their google doc. with the teacher. Comments, reference links and voice notes can be left by the teacher for the students, and students can also leave notes for their teacher.
The Cons

This program is based entirely on internet access, for those students, school boards or teachers who don't have reliable access to internet, or who have the horribly slow school wireless network this system of leaving comments could prove to be very difficult. Furthermore, as wonderful as technology is, it does always have the possibility of "technical errors", for example errors in uploading, internet crashes or viruses. Finally the technology eliminates the face to face feedback, (although this still can occur).
The Pros
For those who have consistent and reliable internet access this can become a wonderful program. Internet based and entirely free it poses no extra cost and creates a system where students can receive quicker feedback, with no problems regarding lost feedback sheets or rough copies. It also presents the wonderful bonus of less paper waste, students no longer hand in a rough copy and other multiple drafts, but instead simply shares their work through google drive with their teacher. Another and final great pro, which I find particularly helpful with ESL, is the ability for students to leave voice notes for their teachers. If an ESL student is having issues explaining themselves in the written language they have the ability to leave a voice note asking questions or attempting to explain the thought process.
I love this app, with its ability to function on Macs, PCs, IPADs and IPhones, it presents a wide range of technology uses and provides many features which makes the unique language of Shakespeare easier to understand. Shakespeare in Bits, provides multiple plays all with several helpful features. The play available include...
Romeo and Juliet
A Midsummer Night's Dream
Julius Ceasar
The Cons
This software provides all the answers for students, including themes, plot summaries, important language and quotes. This has the potential for students to simply search the software instead of actually thinking about the text. (However if the teacher was to use important quotes from the software, ESL students could build on this.) This software also carries an associated cost, this cost is unclear as interested parties must contact the company for cost information. Finally there is no possible way to monitor students' reading progress and ensure that they are reading the book instead of simply reading the synopsis (however this can also be said for paper books also).
The Pros

This is a great software, especially for those who struggle with the language of Shakespeare. The software reads the text aloud for the students allowing for proper rhythm and emphasis. Throughout the text historical and language notes are also available for viewing to assist with understanding. The language notes provide modern day translations for students. The software also provides character, plot, and scene notes. The includes of moving animations also allow for much easier understanding. On an end note this software is also very user friendly and could greatly benefit the ESL learner.
No Red Ink is a grammar software for older students, without any of the graphic and cute cartoons that older students find annoying and boring. An internet based platform the provides a wide variety of options resources, its focus is for students to improve their grammar and language skills.
This website takes the boring old grammar work to a new level. The very first thing that students will do is personalize their interests. Adding their favorite celebrities, sports, pets, and other aspects of daily life. Students can even add their favourite friends so their names appear in their readings. One of my favourite aspects of this online platform is all the options available to teachers. Teachers can create quizzes, assignments and follow students' progress. There is a high degree of customization available in the creation of quizzes and assignments. And tracking students progress becomes surprisingly easy with the colour coded tracking chart.
The key here is that its great grammar help and work for older students, without the boring old work booklet. Students are provided help throughout their quiz with hints, and feedback is positive and helpful providing mini-lessons if help is needed. Overall a great platform which I wouldn't hesitate to use. And its free.
Personally I could not find many cons with this platform. Like other software I have mentioned this software is web based and thus is dependent on internet access, in a school or area where this is unlikely or not possible this software may prove to be more annoyance then helpful. In regards to ESL, the platforms features a personalization aspect which is focused towards north american culture. This may pose a problem for those students who recently immigrated or didn't have much access to these aspects of north american culture.
Fluency Finder
Fluency Finder is an technology which focuses on helping the teacher. It provides reading passages for students grade 1 to 8, which each grade having 6 unique reading passages. The software is IPad and IPhone based, and carries a cost of $6.99. The software provides printable reading passages, and for the teacher a timer, error counter, words per minute calculator and progress tracking.
The Pros
This software allows for the elimination of mountains of paperwork. For students who are nervous, it allows for student sto no longer see teacher making check marks for each error and hopefully allows for them to relax more while they are being assessed. It also features the handy ability to store up to 100 students assessment data, and email assessment results and history out to parents or other interested parties (ie: resource teachers).
The Cons
This software does carry a cost associated with it. And while it provides the benefit of eliminating paperwork, I am not sure if it is worth the $6.99 cost. Also it lacks the ability to mark what errors the students make, it only allows for counting the errors. I would love this app if it came with other platform options. While IPads are the main platforms in classroom, it would be great if it would work with other tablets or PCs.
Rewordify is a website that allows students to cut and paste a passage into the text book and have difficult or complex words switch to into more simpler version. The site contains many options for the student including have the complex word spoken out loud, adjust the reading level that the passage is simplified into, and how the passage is simplified.
This website eliminates the fear of trying to find easy to read resources that contain material advanced enough to complete assignments (especially for those students who are new to ESL but in older grades). Free and easy to use with plenty of options it is very accessible for many students. The site also features the awesome ability for students to hear the difficult words out loud, hopefully helping them learn these new words. Students can also access several learning tools which can help with language and new word acquisition. The ability to print new words with definitions, or even printing their own test sheets allows for unique learning opportunities for the student to pursue. This aspect could also be altered to become part of an assignment, having students print off word lists to learn and test themselves on. And a final plus is that it is free.
This software is yet another internet based software, which poses access challenges with some students, schools or communities. Furthermore there is also the possibility of some simplifications errors, where the true meaning of the text is hidden or confused. This site would be greatly improved if words were translated into other languages instead of being simplified.
I have to take a moment and mention a wonderful website which I found during this process. Edshelf.com was a wonderful data tool, which allowed me the ability to search for apps and websites based on specific criteria, including subject, cost, platform and target age. A wonderful site, take a moment and check it out.

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