Six ELT apps for the iPad/iPhone

Immediately after the launch of the iPad, that crazy team of scientists here at Six Things (the ones who brought you six technological inventions teachers really want to see) got down to work on creating apps for our field. Here they are, still under development but showing a lot of promise already…

1. iGrind – delivers ten grammar exercises to your mobile phone every day for 20 years. A 21st century application of an idea from my co-author and friend Philip Kerr for a coursebook called Grind On.

2. iCELTA – Imagine having your CELTA teacher trainer in every one of your classes! This app quietly sits and listens to your lessons, occasionally giving you CELTA-type advice via text message (e.g. “slow down your teacher talk” “demo the activity first” “spelling mistake on the board”) At the end of your lesson press the feedback option, and iCELTA will ask you gently what parts of the lesson you thought went okay before giving you a mark.

3. imSick – makes your voice sound completely cold-ridden and flu-like for when you want to call in ill for work.

4. Dogme app – this paperless app at first emits a peaceful and purposeful silence. Point your iPad or iPhone at the students and watch the language simply flow out. The app then uses this to tailor a language learning activity just for you. Don’t ask what this looks like, it must be experienced.  Can be upgraded to synch with twitter and will broadcast the occasional anti-technology tweet. Note: this app works best if all coursebooks have been removed from the room.

5. 6things app – delivers a daily dose of Six Things joy to your phone. Never miss a blog post again 😉

6. UnderstandMe app – programmed with instructions for all your favourite activities in clear and loud English. Don’t worry about losing your voice, or your cool, ever again. The volume on this app can actually go way up so that the instructions are heard by a large class of teenagers.

Do you have an idea for a killer app for English language teachers? Post a comment.

Published in: on February 8, 2010 at 8:40 am  Comments (33)  
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33 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Having recently seen how digital whiteboards (choice of nomenclature deliberate) can be set up simply and cheaply by attaching an Ebeam to the wall, and how the resulting blank page can be manipulated to record ongoing lesson ’emergenalia’, I vote for the iBeam – your iPhone is attached to the wall by means of a rubber sucker or lump of blu-tak, and the app emits the requisite infrared signal that ‘digitalises’ the wall. Would mean that, effectively, you could teach anywhere that there’s a wall and one of those electronic pens. Indispensable!

    • This actually would be an app I would seriously be interested in…
      Can we have an entry on your blog Scott called E for Emergenalia? 🙂

    • Scott,

      Knowing my luck, I’d lose the pen 😦

    • Hi Scott,

      You’ve made a startlingly accurate prediction. This technology exists now, excluding the rubber sucker and lump of blu-tak, but instead uses a Wii remote and bluetooth to digitalise any wall (no iphone necessary). Here’s a link to the video:
      It works fabulously in the classroom!

  2. The i-Extra. Want to do pair work, but have an odd number of students? This app will turn your phone into an extra student to ensure you don’t have to make a three or, worse, get involved yourself.

    Can also be programmed to take the place in class of a student type that is lacking. Class of engaged talkative enthusiastic students? i-Extra will magically turn your iphone into the sullen one who sits at the back saying nothing and sneering a lot. Many other student types supported (including the-one-who-answers-every-question-before-you’ve-even-finished-asking-it, the-painfully-shy-one, and, of course, the-really-annoying-one-who-no-one-wants-to-work-with)

    • Andy, consider yourself hired for our app development team! Excellent app…

    • This is an amazing app! I have needed this in so many classes! You should win an award for this app!

      With the same technology should be I-Substitute which beams an substitute teacher to take your place and watch your room when you have to run off or take a quick break from the children. The children could program it to look like an animal or to make noises so it keeps them busy and interested so they don’t run off 😉

  3. Surely the most useful thing an iPad can do for a teacher is act as a mirror, to look into just before they walk into class.

    And someone ought to invent some instant make-up apps – iLiner, iShadow, iBlush, a whole iMakeup range in fact. They would be applied by an iPencil, which would nestle at the bottom of the iPad.

    This discriminates against men teachers, I hear you say? On come on, this is the twenty-first century. We all need a bit of slap sometimes!

    • Very nice stuff Ken, I had not originally got the pun over the word eye/i in all your apps!

  4. I think a student i-int scale would really help so you would know immediately you started an activity whether it would match the styles, intelligences etc of your students and give you a percentage-success-profile – oh and it would keep a student record of how often each individual was satisfied, disenfranchised etc.

    (and to be really boring, the two best ELT Apps (for me) already exist – The Longman dictionary of Contemporary English and their diccionario conciso. I use both of them a lot)

    • Thanks Jeremy, I actually need to check out those two existing apps. I think Longman might be the only major ELT player to have apps, is that right?

      • Hi Lindsey,

        CUP have a couple of brand-new English Grammar in Use Apps – check them out.

  5. I’m a bit worried that people might misinterpret the use of the word ‘slap’ in my previous comment. It means ‘make-up’.

    However, having just checked various online dictionaries, none of them give ‘make-up’ as a slang definition of ‘slap’. Not sure where I picked up that usage – certainly not from my northern mum or aunts (the only people I knew when I was a child who used make up).

    So, just want to emphasise that I wasn’t suggesting that comatose teachers (eg those with hangovers, small children at home etc) needed a slap to wake them up before they teach… 🙂

  6. Definitions 5 and 6 on the first page of the Urban Dictionary agree with you Ken

  7. Wow! Thanks, Andy. Never had the pleasure of browsing through before. What a cornucopia of treasures! Unsurprisingly, ‘cornucopia’ is not one of the defined words. 🙂

  8. iGrind – I could definitely use that for the ‘grammar gurus’ in my classes.

  9. Meet iCorrect – the gadget that can scan a student’s writing, counting the number of words, locating all the mistakes, evaluating the range of vocabulary, checking if the text is relevant and coherent, making sure it has the appropriate register, and searching for possible plagiarism. iCorrect can do all this is only ten seconds, giving a very accurate score that no Cambridge guru can object to. No unpaid work at home if you purchase iCorrect!

  10. An indispensable app for conference attendees: the iCrap-Detector. A bit like web-browser security settings, you can configure it for high, medium or low crap detection, depending on your tolerance level. When set to Alarm mode, it emits a loud raspberry-like sound whenever – for example – the speaker mentions “the zone of proximal development” or when they say “the next slide is from my latest book”.

    • So THAT’S what that sound was at the Global launch last week! And I thought someone in the audience had eaten too many spicy apéros!

      Not sure of the logical reasoning of “next slide from my latest book” = crap but I think the intention is very good. Maybe I’ll wait for the Beta version?

  11. No-brainer: I’d like an iFind app with night vision that sends out “Warmer! Warmer!” signals when I get into the corner of my bag that has cards or markers I need.
    Re the iFace set, there’s got to be a men’s line, no? But I guess the PomeGranate’s probably got the iShave market cornered. (

    • God I would pay big bucks for the iFind. Like for keys, that rogue euro coin for the coffee machine etc etc

  12. How about an iDifferentiate app?? It would link to Jeremy’s i-int thing above and give you a wonderful lesson designed to meet the needs of every student in the class – giving support to students having difficulty, while automatically providing extra activities/tasks for more able students.

    This would be so great for OfStED!

  13. I’m working on the development of the iSpy. Simply put your iPhone on the table in your classroom, access the iSpy app, and it will emit rays through the walls into neighbouring teachers’ classrooms, listening in on their classes, and automatically downloading any good lines/ worksheets/ videos/ putdowns/ students to your phone. You can then use these in subsequent lessons and pretend that you invented them.

  14. Right now I need iName – tells you the name of the student you are addressing. Point your iPhone camera at the student and the app whispers the name to you.
    iSpeakRight – it’s the oral version of iCorrect (see above). The app ‘listens’ to what the student is saying and shows on the screen the mistakes that the students makes while speaking, which you can then correct when he/she finishes speaking. This allows you to concentrate on what the student is saying rather than how they’re saying it.

    • Love iName, and iSpy. I will set my scientists these two tasks immediately. Priceless.

  15. I’m currently beta testing my iCare application. Students input their excuse for cutting class or missing the big deadline by speaking directly into the device. It then calculates how much sympathy they deserve based entirely on the total length of the discourse. After some appropriate humming and hawing, the app assigns the student either a new deadline or a C grade as appropriate. If the program detects the words “But I really need a B for my scholarship” or “C’mon, were my favourite teacher this semester”, it automatically begins recording the conversation as evidence against the upcoming student complaint.

    iCare. Because theyDidn’t. Coming soon!

    • The last line of that comment is sheer poetry Marcos. Thank you!

  16. The iShutup – the effective instrument to reduce TTT

  17. How about the iRock? Every time another teacher / a DoS / anyone important walks past your classroom, it plays a recorded burst of raucous laughter or the sound of students engaged in lively conversation.

    When they ask you later why your classes sound so much fun you can reply….

    “I rock!”

  18. The iPhone Me.
    Title is confusing enough to make a small fortune for its developer when confused lay people download it for $1.99, wondering how it will change their lives What they get for their 2 dollars?
    A peculiar chart
    filled with strange characters
    that aspirates consonant and vowel sounds
    in a very posh sounding voice when you touch them.

    • Good one, Jeff, I think there are already lots of iphone apps out there just like this 🙂

  19. One more App: iTeacherKash. Miraculous e-commerce interface that exchanges measly English Teacher hourly wages for vouchers at, Netflix, and other retailers of goodies at amazing 1-for-10 ratio, thus instantly boosting Teachers’ purchasing power. App is provided free courtesy of Oxfam.

    • Paul. How about we just develop an app called iGetPaidMore!

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