There are now countless apps available for both teachers and learners in a vast range of fields. Here is my top ten list of apps for EFL educators. All of these apps are ones that I personally use and recommend, or have been strongly recommended to me by English teaching acquaintances. (Please note that I am not affiliated with any of the app makers.)
1. Dropbox – The de facto cloud-enabled filing system for iOS devices (better than iCloud, in my opinion). Allows you to store and sync files across multiple devices, and can display/play many file types, including videos, images, sounds, Pages documents, Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and PDFs.
2. iWork (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) – technically three apps, which together provide desktop publishing functionality for your iOS device. Worksheets for students can be created in Pages, and exported or shared as PDF or Word documents. Grades can be put directly into a Numbers spreadsheet if, like me, you’re not particularly keen on any of the multitude of specialist grade-handling apps.
3. Notes – some people swear by Evernote, which offers a much more advanced cloud-based note-taking functionality. However, I find the default iOS Notes app is more than sufficient to deal with my note-taking needs, and syncs nicely with Notes on the Mountain Lion, and the web-based iCloud app.
4. PDF Expert – allows you to annotate PDF files on your iOS device. Interfaces directly with your Dropbox account and has a much cleaner interface than the popular alternative, GoodReader.
5. Notability – similar to PDF Expert and GoodReader, this app allows you to annotate PDFs on your iOS device. Unlike those applications, it also allows you to link audio recordings to PDF documents, which is great for keeping a record of speaking activities.
6. Socrative – a “student response system” which allows you to poll your students and get real-time responses to surveys and questionnaires. The service is also accessible through web browsers, so students don’t need to install the iOS app itself, if doing so proves to be problematic or time-consuming.
7. Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English – provides easy-to-understand definitions of English words, example sentences, and native-speaker audio recordings of entries.
8. TeacherKit – one of the more fully featured “teacher assistant” applications. Handles attendance records, grade input, and seating plans among other things.
9. PlanBook Touch – this is a specialist app for lesson scheduling and planning, with a nice color-coding functionality, making it easy to manage your busy teaching schedule.
10. GradeBook Pro – of the many specialist grade-handing applications, this is one of the better ones. Also handles attendance records and student performance (personally, I prefer putting grades directly into a Numbers spreadsheet, which is where they will inevitably end up anyway).
Honorable mentions: Stick Pick provides an innovative way to randomize student names for classroom activities, and QR Code Generator is a good way to distribute unwieldy URLs and e-mail addresses to students. Finally, QuizBuzzer is a fun way to add sound effects to classroom quizzes.
Have a different top ten? Have an app recommendation you want to share? Please add it in the comments section below!
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