App Reviews

App Review: Conversation English by The English App

  • Price: $2.99
  • Description: 20 English lessons with an idiom dictionary containing over 200 idioms – each lesson builds on listening comprehension, reading, vocabulary, and sentence completion
  • Platform: iOS only
  • Review: While not without its flaws, Conversation English is an excellent app that is both inexpensive and expansive in its content. The app’s greatest strength lies in its focus on idiom comprehension which can be a difficult barrier for ELLs in learning English. This app’s main focus is, you guessed it, conversation! The conversations may be somewhat stilted and unintentionally-funny at times but they at least try to incorporate pop culture references that make the app at least feel relevant to a degree. However, this app goes beyond simply listening to faux conversations in English and contains 7 different categories in each of its 20 lessons that can be completed and revisited completely at the user’s discretion. The app also makes it easy for users to track their progress with a simple color-coding feature that makes navigating the app a breeze. Out of the different categories, the idiom matching activity is the strongest while the dialogue building activity is a bit too tedious for its own good (unless you’re using a large tablet, your iPod’s small screen considerably limits your view). Smart functions, user-friendly navigation, and an expansive amount of content for only a few bucks makes this an app worth your time. 4/5 (NOTE: a possible glitch may freeze this app – make sure your iOS is completely updated)
  • ELL lesson plan suggestions: Let one of the lessons in this app guide one of your tutoring sessions – the app maps everything out for you: start with warm-up, listen to the conversation, and go from there! If you don’t get through the entire lesson, you can keep track of your learner’s progress. Also, use this app’s idiom dictionary constantly to keep track of what idioms your learner needs to work on.

App Review: Gengo Flashcards – British English

  • Price: $5.99
  • Description: 25 categories containing about 10 flashcards each – every flashcard uses real pictures (essential for ELL!) and features clear pronunciations; “game” mode – the user is given three pictures and must decide which picture correctly matches the audio cue; app allows the user to create their own flashcards and save them to the app by taking their own pictures and recording their own audio
  • Platform: iOS only  
  • Review: Gengo Flashcards is an excellent example of when simple is better. There isn’t a whole of depth or complexity to this app – it’s a flashcard app! And that’s all about it has to offer: simple flashcards with vivid pictures and clear pronunciations. But let’s be honest, what more do you really want from a flashcard app? Well, how about the ability to create your own flashcards using pictures you take and audio you record? Check. This function is Gengo’s secret weapon, if you will, that sets it apart from other flashcard apps (there are a lot of them). While there are already a significant number of flashcards – around 250 – eventually, you will have seen everything it has to offer, two or three times over. That’s why the ability to create your own flashcards is an intuitive addition – this app will literally never grow stale if you want it to! And to top it off, it’s easy. Creating your own flashcards is a breeze: snap a picture, add a title, and record some audio. Done. How far you take the functionality of this app is ultimately left up to you, the user, because if you only want to use the stock flashcards, you can, and no further work is required of you. And since this app is being reviewed from an ELL perspective, let is be noted that all the flashcards smartly use “real” pictures and not animated ones. Gengo might be a little pricier than most English tutoring apps, but if you’re looking for a solid flashcard app, look no further. 5/5
  • ELL lesson plan suggestions: Use the custom flashcard function to to take pictures of items around the learner’s home or a place they commonly visit (restaurant, grocery story, etc.) and create an immediately relevant set of flashcards. Also, consider having the learner themselves take pictures of things they don’t know how to identify in English and then help them correctly identify each flashcard in English and record the audio.

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