There are loads of apps for learners of English out there, so we’ve done some research and tested a few for you. Language apps are perfect to take on holiday with you (if you’re staying somewhere with an internet connection that is), and umm, yes, some of them could probably be played as drinking games, but we’ll leave that up to you. Here’s a top five:
Build your vocab with this Merriam-Webster app. You probably know their dictionary app already, and if you don’t, you should get it; it’s free, it has sound files and example sentences and a “word of the day” service. There are different quiz types (e.g. “Name that Thing” and “Speed Drill” and different levels of difficulty. The goal, according to the app, is “to master “1000 Words Worth Knowing” – words selected by Merriam-Webster editors to challenge, intrigue, and contribute to a powerful vocabulary.” Sounds smart, doesn’t it? Warning: It’s addictive.
Now, the British Council’s LearnEnglish team has produced a number of apps worth checking out. Many of them are for beginners, but one which is helpful for learners of all levels is definitely MyWordBook, created in cooperation with Cambridge Dictionaries. You can choose your language level as you start the app, and then you basically use it as an interactive wordbook. It shows you a number of words, gives you their dictionary definitions and examples of usage, you can add a translation if you want, take notes, listen to the pronunciation and create your own word list, which you can then use to review the new words you’ve learned. It’s kind of like learning vocab with flashcards, except that you can do it everywhere, and it’s more fun. The app also features a spelling quiz.
It’s a very simple but effective idea: This app can help you to improve your English by reading out words, phrases and sentences for you to repeat. You can listen to the sentences as often as you like, you use your phone’s microphone to record yourself and then you can compare your pronunciation to that of a native speaker. The app’s beginner sessions focus on sounds that are difficult for learners of English (e.g., “w” vs. “v”), and the advanced sessions are topical (e.g., giving presentations, doing a job interview, flirting,…), so you might even learn new words and idiomatic phrases.
This one is a word puzzle game which looks a bit like sudoku: It shows you a grid of letters in random order and you have to find the correct word(s). It starts out super easy but gradually becomes more difficult…and nerve-wracking if you can’t think of the right answer straight away. Not sure if this is available for Android users, but there might be an equivalent game on Google Play…
Busuu is for the social butterflies amongst you. It’s a social network comparable to Facebook, except that you don’t post photos of kittens but you do language exercises online and post your answers. English is only one of the languages featured. Other (native speaker) community members correct your mistakes and you can do the same for learners of German (or whatever your mother tongue is) if you want to. Busuu also has vocab flashcards and listening exercises for learners of all levels, and you can set a “study reminder” so you don’t forget to check back in.
Those five apps should definitely get you through your term break – play at your own risk! Oh and by the way, they are all free of charge.
And you know what, here’s one extra, which didn’t make the top five but gets extra points for cuteness: The Cambridge Phrasalstein app (Android / Iphone) will “help you lose your fear of the horrifying phrasal verbs once and for all” …or so it claims. See for yourselves.