There are many apps available to language learners, but some of them are particularly suited to supplement a structured course. If you are teaching a world language to homeschooled students, whether online or in a co-op setting, you probably only get an hour or two of face time with them each week. Apps are crucial for bridging the gap between class meetings. At the start of every school year, I have my French I students install the following 5 apps on their mobile devices.
What makes these apps so special? They each play a different role for my students. Having a small set of apps that we rotate between gives learners routine and variety at the same time. I've taken care to weed out redundant apps so that I don't overwhelm students and parents with too many new tools for one class. For my French course, these 5 apps are indispensable.
It's just an online dictionary, but of course you need one! If students have this app handy they are more likely to use it. Otherwise, they are tempted to use google translate, which is a very bad habit. With an actual dictionary like this one, students can see different word choices along with explanations and context to help them make the decision for themselves which word best fits their sentence.
Kahoot a game we play in class often. The students see the questions on their computer screen, and they use their mobile devices to enter their answers. With a paid teacher account I can use Kahoot to create polls, puzzle-type questions, and of course the classic multiple choice questions. The paid account also makes it easier to organize and find activities you plan to use year after year. Kahoot is very useful for the comprehensible input classroom, because the poll questions can be used to structure story telling. The puzzle questions allow the students to focus on learning word order. The program also has true / false and open-ended question types. If you take care to vary the type of questions you use, every game can have a completely different feel to it, so the students don't get tired of playing.
This is a platform for students to make short videos for class assignments. It’s an essential element of a once-a-week class, because the students need to be speaking the language frequently. While the site also works great on computers, the app makes it very easy for students to make and submit videos using their phones.
Quizlet is a vocabulary practice tool. It is just as fun and effective on a computer as on a mobile device. I encourage them to get the app because then they are likely to practice more frequently! There are several different practice activities available to every set of vocabulary words that you create. With a paid teacher account, it's easy to track whether the students have been studying the vocabulary, and which activities they have used. I have my students complete the match, learn, and test activities, and they are graded for completion of these to ensure that they get in the habit of studying using spaced repetition. While some teachers may shy away from Quizlet because they see it as a translation-based approach, it is possible to create sets without translations. Many of my sets feature only the French word and a picture, or a definition in French. I find it useful for my students to be able to click the speaker icon and listen to the words they are learning, since they are only in a French classroom for an hour a week.
Language Lab is an app produced by McGraw-Hill to correlate with a collection of their language learning books. I mostly use it alongside the Easy French Reader, but there are other valuable sets in the app as well.
Notice that, even though I love Duolingo, I did not list it here. That’s because Duolingo works a lot better on a computer than it does on the app. There are grammar notes available, and the learner is required to type answers instead of getting a lot of multiple choice questions. Also, within a class, the teacher has the ability to assign topics on duolingo, but if the student completes them on a mobile device their progress is not always reported. However, if the students want to play on the Duolingo app in addition to their class assignments, it couldn’t hurt!
You’ll also notice I did not include Google Translate on this list. Google Translate does not belong in the hands of an early language learner! They rely on it to do the thinking for them, like a kindergartner with a calculator, and never learn the material. This is why I encourage all students to put WordReference on their phones, so they will always have easy access to a dictionary and will realize the importance of using one over a translation app.
I hope you have found my list useful! If you are teaching a world language in a co-op setting, I'd love to connect! Drop me a note from the home page! If you are a parent looking for a way for your student to learn French or Spanish, please check out the rest of the site to see if Global Goose Languages is a good fit for your student.