Published 13th November 2020
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a full-time job, but that doesn’t mean you need to let it take over your life. Planning EFL lessons which are appropriate, interactive and effective can be time-consuming and exhausting, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t accept all the help you can get. These days especially, there’s probably some piece of technology, or as we are looking at today apps for TEFL teachers that can help you out with whatever problem you might be having.
Making use of technology or resources like websites is not something we frown on in the EFL world. When you think about it, there is no need to re-invent the wheel. If someone has done a lesson on the present perfect for teen learners, for example, and it worked, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use that same lesson for your own class. Similarly, using technology to make your life easier is not a cop-out. In fact, it means you’re working smart instead of working hard.
This is true in life and in the EFL classroom. Whatever you need help with, be it lesson planning, time management, or even a grammar or pronunciation issue, there’s probably something or someone online who could help you quickly and easily. And that’s because, just like most things in life, whatever the problem, there’s an app for that!
Here are Seven Apps for TEFL Teachers
Let’s start with some organization. Edmodo is an app which will make sure you are a very well-organised teacher. You can use it to upload any assessments, quizzes or assignments for your classes so that they can be accessed both by you and your students. You can assign a space to each class you have so that your materials are in the appropriate places. It also has an instant messaging function which allows you to chat to your students when necessary, and vice versa.
Edmodo is a free app.
We’re big fans of the TED Talks so we’re very happy that there’s now an app. The app has thousands (literally thousands) of recordings of TED Talks from all over the world. You can assign TED Talks for your students to watch at home to discuss during your lessons, or you could use the app to watch the talks during the lesson. If each student watches on their own device, they are free to pause it and replay any time they need to.
The TED app is free.
To help you out when you’re really stuck, we can always count on Google. In our case, as English as a Foreign Language teachers, Google Translate can really help us out of a pickle. Of course we don’t recommend using translation all the time, but sometimes you really need to be able to communicate something important to your students or sometimes there is a serious breakdown in communication during learning that only a translation can fix. You won’t always have the luxury of having a teaching assistant who can translate for you. That’s when you whip out the app and set the record straight. A word of warning, though, Google Translate is generally a good app but sometimes the translations can be a bit off, which is why we recommend only using it when absolutely necessary.
Google Translate is free.
Read more: Using Translation in the EFL Classroom
Kahoot is a great app for those of us who like to play games in our lessons – so all of us, right? It’s very simple to use and user-friendly. As the teacher, all you need to do is create a quiz with questions, polls, and slides using the Kahoot software. Then you can use the app to play the games interactively in class, or even if you are teaching online. The class can all play together or you can assign students to play against each other. You can even assign self-paced kahoots so your students can play on their own in their own time. The best thing is you can save your Kahoot quiz so you can use it with another class.
The Basic plan is free and totally adequate but there are extra features you can access with a Pro, Premium or Premium+ plan.
The thing we love about FluentU is that it makes use of authentic materials. It’s basically an app full of authentic English-language videos – music videos, news, cartoons, ads, talks – which they’ve turned into language learning exercises. The videos are all organised by level. Each video has been transcribed and there are a number of exercises the learners can do related to the video, such as fill-in-the-gap activities, dictionary definitions and related flashcards.
FluentU has both free and paid versions.
Read more: How to Find Authentic Materials Online
Duolingo is a great app for anyone learning any language, but it’s definitely a useful tool in the EFL classroom. Duolingo uses gamification, personalization and instant grading to help learners learn a language. It is largely based on spaced repetition and their theories are backed by scientific research. Users play games which teach and test vocabulary, functional language and pronunciation. Duolingo claims that you can learn a language using their app for just thirty minutes a day. You can assign it to students for homework or you can allow students to play for a few minutes if they finish their work early. Teachers are able to keep track of their students’ progress on a dashboard. And, of course, you could use it yourself to learn the local language!
There is a free version or you can pay to use the app without ads.
Speak English is an app with hundreds of recordings of native English-speakers speaking on a range of topics. The user chooses a topic and will hear a phrase or a conversation. They can repeat it as many times as they would like. Then they are given the opportunity to record themselves, play it back and compare it to the recording. As you can imagine, this app is really good for practical language such as greetings, job interviews, giving directions and customer service. Because of this, it is useful to supplement those lessons. However, because it requires users to compare their recording to that of the app, it might not suit lower level learners, as the learners would need to already have a critical ear in order to correctly assess themselves.
Speak English is free.
There you have it: seven amazing and amazingly free apps for TEFL teachers which are super useful in the EFL classroom. If these don’t make your life easier then, to be quite honest, we don’t know what will!