Some time last year I wrote a blog post about using your mobile device to practise English and prepare for your exam. I haven’t written anything about technology since then so this week I thought we should revisit the topic by looking in more detail at some free apps that I myself am familiar with and that I think you might find useful. I thought I’d start with some apps from the BC’s LearnEnglish series.
LearnEnglish Grammar (UK Edition)
This is a great app for focussing on improving your grammar. Covering Beginner, Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced level, it’s suitable for beginners and experts alike. This app is great for brushing up any rusty areas you may have so it is very useful for revision and exam preparation.
Each level contains sets of questions based around 12 grammar topics and each topic has around 20 activities. No longer limited to the usual dull multiple choice questions, these interactive practice activities include images and audio and you drag and drop to fill in the blanks, reorder words and label pictures.
At the end of each level there is a test, so you can check your progress, see your improvement and revisit any areas you still feel unsure about. There is also a Help section which is available in multiple languages, so trouble-shooting should be easy.
Johnny Grammar’s Word Challenge
This is fun if you are a bit competitive and like to challenge yourself. This is a 60 second quiz where you have to answer as many spelling, vocabulary and grammar questions as you can before the clock stops. As you progress through the levels, you earn badges for each stage. The quiz tests common vocabulary, spelling and grammar that appears in everyday English. There are 3 levels – easy, medium, hard – along with 10 common vocabulary topics and 12 grammar topics. You get feedback on nay wrong answers too which is a crucial part of making progress. You get the opportunity to earn badges as you progress, as well as competing with other players around the world on a global leaderboard.
LearnEnglish Audio and Video
This app has been designed to help you improve your listening skills. Podcasts and videos are based around a wide variety of topics, including UK food and culture, everyday life and famous stories and poems. This app has some cool features to help you make the most of it. There is a moving audioscript available to support your comprehension and you can jump between sections to listen again just by clicking on the audioscript. The pitch control feature means you can slow down the speed of the audio if you want to listen to something more carefully. There is a glossary where you can find the meaning of words you don’t know and at the end of each episode, there are comprehension questions to test yourself.
LearnEnglish GREAT Videos
This is another app to support listening skills, only this time you listen to and watch authentic conversations in English. There are 24 videos based around the topic Life in the UK. This app has the same features as the Audio & Video app – audioscript, pitch control, glossary and comprehension questions – and similar benefits. You’ll improve your confidence in listening to native speakers talking at regular speed, improve your comprehension skills, improve your pronunciation and learn a lot of new vocabulary.
There are over 80 episodes – that’s over 20 hours of listening – available for download on this app, which means you can listen anytime, anywhere using your mobile. In each episode, podcast hosts 4 different hosts chat with various people to talk about everyday topics such as their favourite celebrities, making plans for the weekend, having a dinner party and which cities they like to live in. Like the other listening apps, features include a moving audioscript and comprehension questions come with each episode so that you can check your listening and whether you understand the conversation.
LearnEnglish Sounds Right
This is a simple-to-use app to help learners master the sounds of English and improve their pronunciation. It’s basically an interactive pronunciation chart with all the symbols of the phonemic alphabet. To hear a sound, just tap a symbol. Tap the downward arrow sign and listen to three example words with that sound. It’s as easy as that.
IELTS Word Power
This app is a British Council product but not part of the LearnEnglish series. As its name suggests, it is specifically aimed at IELTS students who are preparing to take their exam and need to increase their bank of vocabulary. It will also help improve your reading and listening too as the vocabulary is presented through these two skills. There are 11 common IELTS topics such as Science, Technology, Work and Business, Art and Culture and 151 vocabulary exercises based around them.
The two best things about these apps is that they are all free and, more importantly, produced and therefore endorsed by the British Council so you can be assured they are of a superior standard of English.