Finding out what are the most useful apps for language learning on the App Store is a daunting task for those lucky enough to have access to iPads in their classrooms. The shortcut which I’ve found most useful is to follow the community of language teachers on Twitter known as the MFLTwitterati who regularly tweet and blog about apps they use in their lessons. I would also suggest you check out Kristyn Paul’s wonderful wiki which lists a whole range of cherry picked apps organised into different skill areas and topics, Catherine Ousselin’s app directory and Joyce Tabone’s blog Teaching LOTE with iPads. The webinars I did for the Classroom 2.0 Live series , EdTechTeacher, University of Limerick, ALL London and LARC Social Media Workshop 2014 could prove helpful too.
To get you started, I thought I would share some of my favourite apps at the moment for promoting speaking and listening through multimedia.
Voice Record Pro is my app of choice for recording good quality audio files and exporting them via email or cloud services such as Dropbox or Google Drive. You can edit and trim the beginnings and ends of recordings too which is useful if learners hesitate before they start speaking or don’t make it clear when they’ve finished. They can also read their script scrolling up the screen using the Visioprompt app while recording with Voice Record Pro in the background. Some language teachers tell me this process helps their students memorise controlled assessment pieces. Having created your files, you can rename them and convert them to mp3 meaning they can be played on any device or computer which plays digital audio. In my experience, recording and editing audio is fantastic for improving pronunciation, extending speaking, boosting confidence and deepening understanding in the languages classroom.
30Hands is a fantastic app for creating narrated slideshows including still images, annotations, text and drawings. The free version lets you make an unlimited length video and could be good for practising a sequence of events such as those typically covered in the topic of daily routine. You can save the results to your Camera Roll and then using Google Drive or Dropbox upload to the cloud or YouTube using the Capture app.
Yakit Kids is a great app for practising speaking work. You can take a picture of an inanimate object or two, add eyes and mouth and record a voiceover over the top. Ideal for pairwork. Tap each mouth in turn and record your questions and answers. Unfortunately, you are only able to record for 15 seconds per clip, but using an app like Videolicious or iMovie, it is easy to stitch together multiple clips and export them as one so your dialogue could be much longer in length than the 15 second limit. Have a look at Sylvia Duckworth’s tutorial for more detail.
iMovie is a powerful app for editing together multimedia clips, adding voiceovers, titles and transitions to produce something wonderful. In this clip, a video has been created mashing together footage produced with the camera app and Puppet Pals HD then edited together in iMovie to bring the topic of where you live to life! Using different apps in conjunction with each other to produce a layered outcome is also known as appsmashing. Check out this webinar I delivered recently on the subject as well as this Pinterest board.
If one stop animation is your thing, Lego Movie Maker is a cool free app which lets you produce engaging short features including sound effects, titles and music. For editing and adding a voiceover, import your clip into iMovie and save to the camera roll. Easy! Animating plasticene characters or plastic models can be a wonderful vehicle for digital storytelling and language work particularly for kinaesthetic learners. How about a bit of word order in German with Lego, but animated?
You can also import your movie projects into Book Creator and add a description of your work in the target language then export to the cloud. The free version lets you make one book and the full version is unlimited. Have a look at this example by Jane Ross in the Chinese classroom and this one by Bu Cathy for Indonesian too. Book Creator is a wonderful app for language learning which can combine hand drawn images, digital photos, text and audio together to produce an impressive outcome. Finished eBooks can be exported as videos or opened in Apple’s free iOS and Mac app iBooks displaying them beautifully. Using the free Chrome extension. Readium, you can also view eBooks on a PC or Aldiko on an Android device.
If you would like to learn more about multimedia language learning on the iPad, why not come along to my hands on course on 21st October in London and explore these ideas further? For more app suggestions, have a look at these comprehensive lists by language teachers Amanda Salt and Rachel Smith. If you are new to iPads, this post could be just what you’ve been looking for! Happy tapping!