Mobile apps ‘Smart’ devices (both phones and tablets) feature dedicated software applications (apps) that can be used to assist language learning. Certain apps help promote creativity: ‘Toontastic’ and ‘Puppet Pals’ enable younger learners to create stories using animated characters and recorded speech, as well providing opportunity for them to share their creations online.
More sophisticated apps like ‘Comic Life’ enable children to take photographs with the mobile device’s in-built camera and incorporate them into cartoon-style templates, alongside written narrative.
Others like ‘Phoster’ provide a framework for developing posters so that children can play around with text and images in order to assess their visual impact on an audience. Many apps have the more specific purpose of helping to develop reading and writing. In-built text to speech synthesis can open up access to texts for English language learners and can also serve as an effective model of oral language, particularly in the absence of native speakers.
There is a multitude of dictionary apps available to support users in their acquisition of new vocabulary. Translation apps also have a role to play in enabling users to transfer knowledge and skills across from a stronger first language to their learning of English.
In addition, there are numerous apps that support the development of vocabulary, grammar and colloquial language, as well as contextualizing language through cultural contexts that make meaning clear.
The British Council has been developing a range of mobile apps in the recent past and you can find out more about them on the following website:
Technology has a significant role to play in enhancing the delivery of English language teaching and learning in the primary sector. The range of technologies now available can support teachers in a variety of ways both inside the young learner classroom, but also increasingly in the home environment and while learners are on the move about their daily lives.
Technological use is clearly ‘situated’, dependent on context and predicated on the notion that what works in one context may not be entirely replicable in another. However, creative practitioners will always be able to see the potential for an idea and are particularly adept at customizing approaches to meet the individual needs of their learners.
With the continuing reduction in manufacturing costs, greater coverage and increasing speeds of communication networks and the development of a ‘read/write Web’, English language teachers have an unparalleled opportunity to ensure their curricula and teaching styles genuinely meet the needs of their 21st century learners.