IPads in an ESL Classroom

What are the best Apps according to teachers?

What are the Pasco Teachers using?

When I first came up with the idea of my thesis I decided who better to ask this question than bilingual school teachers in Pasco, Washington. Pasco school district has 75% minority students with 70% of the student as second language learners. After talking to many of the teachers, I found out Pasco isn't using IPads in the classroom yet. There was one school out of 15 schools who was using them in the third grade and one school where one teacher had an IPad for the teacher per grade level. When asked what apps a teacher was using for his student, the teacher stated, "I am bilingual, that's my app."

According to research...

There are many apps that are out there. According to an article called, Top 8 IPad Apps for ESL Students By Cammy Harbison, She recommended the Simplex Phonics, Word Bingo, Sentence Builder, Kidioms, Speech Tutor, ESL Express: Words Frequently Confused, Rainbow Sentences, and Preposition Builder.

Simplex Phonics

This app teaches more than 450 high-frequency words, that are available in 42 different lists, and arranged by difficulty. Each list comes a lesson teaching one of the basic building blocks of English spelling, including phonograms, sounds and spelling rules.

Word Bingo

This game features play with the Dolch Word List! Students can choose from Pre Primer to third grade level on the game. There are three different modes in which students can play moving them to higher levels of difficulty as they browse the lists of sight words. This app is a fun way to practice skills that may not be so interesting otherwise.

Sentence Builder

This app is designed to help elementary-aged children build grammatically correct sentences. The focus is placed on words that many ESL students struggle to master. The game features pictures and varied game play levels and even can be transferred to a “teenager” made from older students struggling with grammar and syntax. A must have for the ESL classroom.


Most ESL students struggle with more than anything else it is finding out the meaning behind common phrases and idioms we often use without even realizing it. This app will help students who are introduced to an idiom in a digital notebook. The app will give students an example with a graphic. This app is perfect for meeting specific needs of the ESL student while also helping them acquire Common Core Standard knowledge for third to fifth graders. The app includes games so they can practice to build on concepts learned.

Speech tutor

This is geared to help students learn proper sounds and pronunciation of American/English words. This is a must for students who havve come straight from Mexico. The app is similar to the program eliciting sounds, but much cheaper, and can be viewed at three different speeds or even paused in mid-action. The app features a palate diagram, which helps students see even where tongue placement should be. Though it is geared toward ESL students, this app would also be amazingly useful for students with speech impediments. A very helpful tool for speech pathologist.

ESL Express: Words Frequently Confused

  • ESL students experience difficulty when two or more words have similar sounds, therefore instruction in specific meaning and spelling is needed. This app gives the word, it's definition and a sentence to help with how to use the word, improving grammar and comprehension.

Rainbow Sentences

This app is designed to help students with grammar skills by using color coded visual cues to help form well-structured sentences. The who, what, where and why parts of sentences are color-coded allowing students to begin recognizing patterns in sentence formation. A great reinforcement tool for those struggling to learn the subtleties of English grammar.

Preposition Builder

This app teaching students how different prepositions can change the meaning of a sentence. To play the game, students drag prepositions to complete a sentence about the image viewed. The great thing about this app is, if the student chooses the wrong answer, the image and sentence change to show the student the meaning of the sentence they created. This is a powerful tool for correcting common problems ESL students have with English preposition usage. Each level of the game is part of an unfolding larger story which keeps student wanting to come back and master the skills to find out what happens. A lot of ESL students have difficulty with where to place words in sentences, so this app would be a great way to build sentences structure for ESL students.

Read more: http://www.voxxi.com/esl-ipad-apps-elementary-education/#ixzz2EX6DaO7z

Survey results

A survey was send via twitter about what Apps were teachers using to help students. The grades that answered the most were the Kindergarten, First grade teachers. 50% of them said their students use the IPad in classrooms and the suggested app used most were the spelling apps.

How do IPads ensure student will learn

In an article written by H. Parris, Using IPads with ESL Students, She stated that there were three essential questions that are needed to be asked when looking at learning on IPads for students.

1) How can educational iPad applications strengthen and support critical thinking for English Language Learners?

2) How can teachers integrate iPads into their classroom toolbox?

3)How can iPads, digital media and Web 2.0 tools remove boundaries and promote academic achievement for ELLs?

The article stated that there was an increase in learning due to the IPad because the students were engaged with the IPad than any other form of instruction. In order to learn the language, students need to use critical thinking in order to use and apply the language. An IPad has the resources to complete the task.

James "Nikki" Rowe HS ESL class receive iPad 2


Apps for bilingual students can help by helping students in their comprehension and development of their English language. By working on their comprehension and language development, students will do better on the state testing and therefore will do better in school.


Harbison, Cammy. "Top 8 IPad Apps for ESL Students." VOXXI. N.p., 15 Aug. 2012. Web. 08 Dec. 2012.

MCAllen, IDS. "James "Nikki" Rowe HS ESL Class Receive IPad 2." YouTube. YouTube, 16 Jan. 2012. Web. 08 Dec. 2012.

Parris, H. "Using IPads with ESL Students." ESL Techies. N.p., 25 Oct. 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2012.

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