Preschool through 3rd Grade

Starfall.com is a wonderful website for preschool through 3rd grade English language learners, as well as young native English language speakers. The free Starfall ABC app replicates just the ABC part of its website and includes graphic and audio elements, and is interactive and fun.

Keba! English for Kids (ESL) is a free app with three categories of lessons: animals, children, and fruits and vegetables. In each of these categories there are several subcategories of lessons that integrate audio, animation, and photos, making the app engaging and comprehensible for young learners.

3nd through 6th grade

Duolingo is a free language learning app that integrates speaking, listening, reading, and writing and contains photos and audio to ensure that content is comprehensible. Content is cumulative, with lessons becoming increasingly advanced as learners progress at their own pace. Duolingo now allows teachers to create class accounts, assignments, and motivating challenges.

Brainpop ESL is another program that was originally limited to a website but now offers a mobile app. This app is included in this article, although its free content is limited, because of the high quality of the content and the popularity Brainpop has with elementary and middle school students. Also, the free version of the app and website include 18 engaging lessons that include video, “hear it and say it,” vocabulary words, flash cards, a grammar lesson, and a quiz.

There are too many apps to review in one article, and more being created daily. There are resources, however, for finding apps for language learners that have been recommended by other educators or language learners. The bookmarking website, Symbaloo, allows users to create custom webmixes or search for others’ webmixes related to particular content. For example, here is a webmix for newcomer English language learners and teachers. Apps and internet resources for English language learners and other second language learners can also be discovered on Pinterest. Simply searching with the keyword “ELL” on Pinterest will result in thousands of boards and pins related to English as a second language, such as this one.

As with mobile apps, there are many websites for English language learners and their teachers. One of them, Dave’s ESL Cafe has been a popular source of information, idea sharing, lessons, quizzes, games, and links to other ESL websites since 1995. This is another rich source of high quality apps for English language learners that have been vetted and reviewed by educators. Happy hunting!

About the Author:

Lisa Rodriguez started in the Los Angeles Unified School District in 1987, and then in 2001 with the Woodburn School District in Oregon as a bilingual teacher. In 2004 she became a technology and literacy teacher, and then an educational technology coach. She has been teaching courses in education as an adjunct professor since 2010 when she received her PhD in educational technology, and started the Battle of the Books Quiz Center at www.obob.me. Her main educational interests focus on integration of current technologies with English language learners, and second language acquisition.