Free Apps for Vocabulary Learning

A Rattlebag of Vocabulary Ideas

Both Spelling City and Quizlet are device agnostic websites and apps which allow teachers to create tailor made vocabulary exercises. Quizlet is better suited for the initial vocabulary presentation stage as exercises help students match definitions to target lexis. Spelling City, as its name suggests, concentrates more on the sound-spelling properties of a word. However, the sentence unscramble game in Spelling City helps students practice the word in context and provides word order grammar practice. Please look at the table below for a comparison of the two products.

Activity Types Offered by Spelling City and Quizlet.

Spelling City Only


Quizlet Only

Sentence Unscramble(Focuses on sentence syntax) Spelling teaching and testing( Matching the pronunciation of a word to its written form)


N.B. Quizlet spelling tests are available only on laptops

Word and definition flashcards. The definition can be read and listened to.(Focuses on meaning)
Alphabetize(Familiarizes students with the order of the alphabet) Recall the word from the gap filled definition.(Focuses on meaning)
Audio-word matching pelminism( Matching the pronunciation of a word to its written form) Match the word to the definition.(Focuses on meaning)
Spelling Games e.g. hangman, add the missing letters.(Focuses on spelling) Space Race ( Laptop only)(Practices speed reading and focuses on meaning)

Free Apps To Aid Vocabulary Learning


Doodle Hangman (Free)

Students select a lexical set e.g. clothes, sports, fruit, and guess the letters that might be in the word before they get hung. Great animations and students love collecting points. Sadly, teachers cannot add their own vocabulary lists to Apps that do not have an interactive website version.



The opposites


The Opposites

Students need to pair up antonyms appearing on their screens. Presented with the written and spoken forms of a word, they need to scan the screen looking for its opposite.




4 pics 1 word


4 Pics 1 Word

Students use four picture clues and a set of letters to help guess the key word. Words are random, so this is more of a ‘downtime’ activity to change the pace of the class, rather than a vocabulary focus activity.  If done in groups, students spend a lot of time debating whether or not to spend points on hints.


Hidden Objects


Hidden Objects

Students need to locate a list of items in a crowded picture. This works well if a theme such as Home Sweet Home or Summer Escape matches unit or writing themes. Students can produce their own picture dictionaries by taking a screen shot of a scene and annotating the pictures in Skitch.



Working on Multiple Windows on iPads through Side by Side

One of the challenges of iPads users experience is the inability to work on multiple windows. However, there is an App which overcomes this challenge. Side by Side (with Dropbox Support) is a multiple window reader / browser App available on the App Store for free.

We have recently attended Maria Brewster’s session at iCelebrate Finale where she successfully demonstrated how she uses Side by Side App with her students for timed-reading practice. Having been inspired by her work, we have looked into other ways we can use this App with our students for practising other skills, as well. Thus, in this entry, we would like to provide some examples for teachers teaching with iPads on how they can set tasks for their students using Side by Side App and hope that we can also inspire our colleagues to explore further uses of the App.

Side by Side for Writing Practice

Edmodo and Google Drive

Edmodo and Google Drive



For writing tasks with picture prompts, Side by Side enables users to look at the pictures and type at the same time on iPads. As you can see in the picture on the left, the students open Google Drive or Google Docs in one window and Edmodo on the other. They open access the shared Pdf file with picture prompts in one window and create a new google docs document for writing in the other window.




The prompts and the writing window

The prompts and the writing window




Once the students tap on the Pdf file, they can view the picture prompts for ‘John’s Daily Routine’ on the right hand side and type on the left hand side of the screen.





Add Timer for Timed Writing Practice

Add Timer for Timed Writing Practice




It is also possible to add a third window with an online count-down timer for timed-writing practice.





Side by Side for Listening Practice

Side by Side App can also be used for listening practice and typing practice through dictation activities.

Audioboo and Socrative

Audioboo and Socrative


Describing friends‘ is one theme that is covered in our level 1 course. We have recorded a description of a person on the Audiboo App and shared it with our students on Edmodo. Thus, the students can access the audio file ‘My Good Friend Claire‘ in one window of the Side by Side app. In the other window, they can access teacher-created questions about this podcast on Socrative Student on the web by typing the room number their teacher gives them. Once they access the quiz, students can start playing the Audio file and answering the multiple-choice questions on Socrative. It is also possible for students to pause and replay the audio file while answering the questions. For those who would like to use this activity in their classes, you can import the Socrative questions from SOC-456975.




Another theme we cover in our course is ‘Describing Countries, Cities and Towns‘ . It is possible to set a dictation task to students in Side by Side App by asking them to open the audio file shared on Edmodo, a google docs document and provide a QR code as Answer Key for Independent Learning. As you can see in the picture, the students can listen to the teacher-created podcast  ‘Dictation about Other Countries‘  and type what they hear in a new Google document that they have created. Once they finish the activity, they can scan the QR code using their mobile phones to access the Answer Key. Providing an Answer Key is especially useful for students completing this task as independent study.


Side by Side for Reading

In her presentation, Maria Brewster demonstrated that she uses Side by Side with her students for timed reading practice, where she asks students to have 3 windows: reading text from Google Docs, questions on Socrative and an online countdown timer.

Edmodo, Google Docs, Dictionary

Edmodo, Google Docs, Dictionary



Another possibility is asking students to complete questions on Edmodo and open an online dictionary in the other window.






We also looked into Speaking practice with Side by Side, where students could record their voice online while reading a description they had written. However, the various websites we have tried, such as Audioboo, Podomatic, Vocaroo, Podbean, Soundcloud, Chribit, have not worked in Side by Side App due to lack of Flash plugin. We have checked the settings to see whether it was possible to open the App through Puffin Browser but could not see this as a possibility. We would love to hear from those who have been able to create a podcast on a website on the iPad through Side by Side App.

Two features the App lacks are the inability to open Apps and the lack of Flash support. We hope that the next updates of the App will present solutions to these two particular challenges. Being able to use websites with Flash plug-in and being able to open Apps within Side by Side would make this App a must-have for all iPad users.



Talking Pictures: A Free App That Engage Students in Speaking and Listening Activities


Tap on the link to download the app.
The Pedagogic Principles behind the Speaking Activities.
In EFL speaking activities students need a message to communicate and a reason to listen to each other. Especially when producing a monologue, a clear purpose, helps them structure their speech. Basing a monologue on a picture provides content and scaffolds its organisation. Viewing a picture which another language learner is talking about, increases listener comprehension and facilitates the listener in asking for clarification and making follow up comments. This in turn shows the speaker that they have been listened to and understood, which increases feelings of success and consequently learner motivation.
Language learners need to gain confidence in speaking spontaneously. However, it is difficult to think of both the content message and language needed to communicate that message in real time communication. Repeating what someone else has said, especially when supported by a visual aid, is a powerful stepping stone towards impromptu explanations.
In order to deliver a monologue fluidly and speak fluently, students need time to prepare and rehearse. Rehearsal is most beneficial when students can listen to and assess their own output, making decisions about what to improve, asking advice about areas they are unsure of etc. Audio recording apps really facilitate this process, encouraging extended rehearsal and a focus on accuracy as well as fluency, especially when learners know that their finished product will be shared publicly.

Lesson Idea One: I have a picture to talk about.

A model is given to students, providing them with a clear idea of their goal. The model can be teacher produced or can be an example of student work from a previous round of this activity.
Students choose a picture to describe. They can use the Skitch App to create a picture dictionary of the vocabulary in the photo.
Students listen to the model again and note down the language structures that they may like to use e.g. In this photograph you can see, in the background there is, in the foreground there are, the building in the middle of the picture is… etc.
Students write out their description, showing it to the teacher and/or peer reviewers for feedback.
Students record their description using the Talking Pictures App. They listen to it in preview mode. They can re-record their description as many times as they wish until they are satisfied with it. Headphones are recommended for this part of the activity.
A filler activity is necessary at this point, as some students will complete the task earlier than others. Students can listen to previously recorded models of Talking Pictures sent to them by email.
Classroom meta-communicative language such as ‘Can I tell you about this picture?’ ‘Yes, go ahead.’, ‘Sorry, someone already showed me that picture.’ ‘Thanks, that was great.’ can be drilled so that as much communication as possible is carried out in English during the ensuing mingle activity.
Students need to have their own iPads clearly identifiable and their auto lock switched off for the mingle part of this activity. Students find a partner and exchange iPads. The partners listen to each other’s recordings whilst standing close to each other. Headphones are recommended for this part of the activity. After listening, students ask each other clarification and follow up questions. They need to prepare themselves to describe their partner’s picture to another student. They can listen to the recording several times and even shadow repeat the message (repeat the message a few seconds after the speaker has spoken.)
Using the meta-communicative language drilled at stage 7, students approach others and describe their friend’s picture. They are not allowed to play their friend’s recording. The purpose of this stage of the lesson is to give them practice in real time communication.
Students exchange iPads once again. So now, Student A’s iPad is with Student C. There is a pause in movement during which students can listen to the original description on Talking Pictures using headphones. Then students find a new partner and describe their third picture to their third partner.
A possible follow up activity as a whole class is for students to comment in which pictures they liked and why.

Lesson Idea Two: Which picture am I talking about?

A model is given to students, giving them a clear idea of their goal. The model can be teacher produced or can be an example of student work from a previous round of this activity. Elicit that descriptions start off with what is common to all four photos, and eventually moves to what differentiates the target photo, so that the listener has to listen carefully and follow a process of elimination.
Students use the Pic Collage App to make a compilation of four pictures on a page. They need to choose pictures that look similar, so that their peers have to listen carefully to distinguish between the images. The collage is saved to Camera roll so that it can be uploaded to the Talking Pictures App.
Students listen to the model again and note down the language structures that they may like to use e.g. There is/ are, in my picture you can see…., adjectives and nouns etc.
Students write out their descriptions, and the teacher provides feedback. Descriptions should be kept secret so that every student in the class is part of the guessing process. If the task is challenging, pairs can co-author one description.
Students record their description using the Talking Pictures App. They listen to it in preview mode. They can re-record their description as many times as they wish until they are satisfied with it. Headphones are recommended for this part of the activity.
A filler activity is necessary at this point as some students will complete the task earlier than others. Students can listen to previously made models of Talking Pictures sent to them by email.
Depending on the class size and time available, individuals can either mirror their iPads on Apple TV and have the whole class guess which picture they are describing, or they can work in groups, using their iPads as a screen. Alternatively, students can upload links to their Talking Picture on a learning management system and learners can listen individually and write down which image each student has described.
NB. We are unable to provide you with an example of the audio recordings at present as there is a glitch in the system when sharing the link via Dropbox, Box or Google Drive. The email link created by these three sharing systems when processed by Safari, fails to open up in the appliance, but rather links with Web Dav or iFiles. Each recording can easily be shared by email, but that has its obvious limitations.

Video Edit For Free App Empowers Speaking and Listening


Click here to access the video link

Video Edit For Free is a video editing tool which enables users to combine videos from different sources so the they can be played in smooth succession. Videos can be uploaded from the Camera Roll or filmed directly on the app. Up to ten minutes of video can be combined. Unlike iMovies, we were able to email 5 minutes of video footage without a problem from Video Edit For Free.
Speaking Lesson Pan Idea: Spot the Lie
1. Students prepare a monologue about themselves, for example their daily routines. They incorporate an obvious lie in their story. The purpose of fellow students listening to them will be to spot the lie. For example, when students talked about their daily routines, one slipped in that he travelled to work by camel everyday, and another one said he went to the park with his 50 children each evening.
2. Students use an audio recorder such as Sound Note or Audioboo to rehearse telling their story. They can listen to themselves and decide when they are ready to be recorded by the teacher. For time management purposes it is essential to have self study activities available to students so that they are occupied whilst other students are being individually recorder by the teacher or a student designated to be that cameraman for the day.
3. Students are issued with a three columned table: col 1. Student name., col 2. The Lie , col 3. Feedback to the student. As the video is aired, learners write down each student’s lie and a feedback comment. Our feedback comments included: look at the camera more, try not to read from the paper etc.
Comment: The first time students do such an activity, they may feel nervous and prefer to read from their written text, rather than recount the information they have planned. On later occasions, they can be guided to freer speaking, by only allowing them to write down key words on a piece of paper and using these as prompts.


Edmodo is our App choice for communicating with students. Having explored multiple free Apps which could help us have an ‘online classroom’ where we could post information about classes and exams, share resources, links, audio and video files, hold discussions, have real-time assessment, give and get feedback, we decided to use the Edmodo App. With its clean, attractive interface on iPad and iPhone, Edmodo is a great choice for tablet and android users.

Sharing resources and contributing to discussions

Students can easily join an Edmodo class through a group code generated by Edmodo, and the teacher does not need to send an email invite. Edmodo allows teachers to manage multiple classes under one account. Resources/polls/quizzes posted on our class can easily be shared on different classes, which is a great time saver for teachers.There is also an option to collaborate with other teachers and this is wonderful for teachers sharing classes.

Awarding digital badges to students

The gamification element is another feature that we love about Edmodo. It allows teachers to create and award digital badges to students. We have found this to be incredibly motivating for our students.

Question breakdown

Real-time assessment feature of Edmodo is its another strength. Students have the chance to get instantaneous feedback on their multiple-choice quizzes. The teacher then has the opportunity to view students’ results and a question breakdown which helps her decide which questions to revise, which subjects to revisit or which students to give additional support to. The smiley feature also helps both parties receive instantaneous feedback.  Both teachers and students are asked to choose a smiley to express their feeling about assessments  on Edmodo and add comments where necessary.

Please also check our sample workflows on Edmodo here.

Nearpod: Teacher and Student Apps


Nearpod Teacher and Nearpod Student Apps are free Apps that enable teachers to create and share interactive presentations and control the flow of the lesson. Before using the App, the teachers should create a Nearpod account and ‘create’ interactive presentations on the Nearpod website from their desktop computers or laptops as new presentations cannot be created using the teacher App. Nearpod website allows teachers to add audio, video, pictures, text (Pdf), polls and quizzes.

Once the presentation is created, teachers can download the Nearpod Teacher App  to share content and manage the flow of the lesson by choosing the slides to be released to students. Through the Nearpod Teacher App, the teachers have the chance to control their students’ iPad screens. Students, on the other hand, log in to Nearpod Student App which will allow them to receive multimedia content shared by the teacher and engage in the activities by answering questions or drawing on their screens. The teacher App also allows the teacher to view students’ answers real-time and share students’ responses and drawings with the whole class.

The fact that students can view and interact with the content on their iPad rather than viewing it on the projector makes Nearpod App favorable. The immediate feedback feature is also great. We would recommend you to try Nearpod for interactive and engaging lessons!

Nearpod Teacher App – Screenshot on iPad


Comic Life for Workflows and Story-Telling

Comic Life is a paid ($4.99) Photo Comic Creation App. As much great as it can be for students to create photo comic and use it for story-telling, it is also great for teachers to create workflows and classroom instruction guides. Below is a sample workflow we created and used for the theme ‘ best friends’. You can see the detailed lesson plan here. The visuals, embedded speech bubbles and step by step instructions help teachers to plan their lessons and create step by step guides and instructions for students. The finished product can be saved to camera roll as jpeg, e-mailed directly from within the App as a Pdf, copied on WebDav or opened in a different App, such as Edmodo or eBackpack. We would highly recommend the Comic Life App.

Workflow on ComicLife



MailShot: Send Group E- Mails from iPads

One of the challenges we faced at the beginning of this Academic year was the inability to send group e- mails to our students on iPads.  Then, we came across the wonderful App MailShot which is the only App we know which can send group -mails directly from our iPads. The free version of the App, MailShot, allows users to create three groups of up to five contacts; whereas the paid version MailShot Pro allows up to one hundred groups!

Once the groups are created, e-mails can be sent from any App on iPad and the groups show as a part of your address book. All that is needed is to type the group name and tap on it once it appears in the address book. The groups can be added to all fields, including bcc and cc. Adding members to the group is as as easy as choosing members from your address book on iPad and group members can be edited any time users want.

Thanks to MailShot Pro, we have been able to create groups and send group e-mails very easily. We would highly recommend this App!



iFiles: Managing, creating and sharing files on an iPad

Two of the biggest challenges teachers face in using iPads is the management of multiple accounts and sharing files with other teachers and students. These challenges stem from the fact that iPad has no built in file structure or file browser like a desktop computer or laptop. iFiles is an App that presents solutions to these two challenges. It is described by Apple Store as ‘a file manager, document viewer, text editor, voice recorder, wifi drive, and many more for iPad, iPhone and iTouch’. iFiles not only allows users to manage multiple accounts under one umbrella and browse for files that are located in different accounts, but also create content within the App on the iPad. iFiles enables teachers to:

Manage multiple accounts, including WebDav connections to college portal and shared drives, BB mobile, eBackpack, Googledocs, SugarSync and many more.

Share files with other faculty members and students easily through a WebDav connection, direct e-mailing, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.

Move a file from one account to another (eg. from personal dropbox to shared college portal) easily within the iFiles App without having to sign in and out of different accounts.

Create new voice recording, folder, text file or photo directly from within iFiles App.

Zip/ unzip Manage multiple formats (iWorks: Pages, Numbers, Keynote, MS Office: Word, Excel, Power Point, PDF, HTML, images: jpg, audio and movies: MP3, M4A and many more).

iWorks Apps all have the built-in function of saving directly to iFiles, without having to create WebDav connections.

Manage shared and private folders.

Set a pass code for private files and folders. Customize folders and files by changing their icons, labels and names.

Sort files and folders by title, kind, date and size.

Air Print documents.

Open documents in other Apps with one tap.

iFiles is a paid App that costs £2.49 in Apple Store, but it is one App I would recommend all teachers teaching through iPads to invest in and use in order to manage, create and share files and folders on iPads.



This review first appeared in Perspectives Volume 19 No.3 produced by TESOL Arabia and was published here with their permission.


The Socrative Quiz Building  Programme comprises two apps: Socrative Teacher and Socrative Student. Teachers create quizzes on a laptop via On enrolling educators are given a room number which is the passkey by which students can access their quizzes. Quizzes fall into three response categories: open ended, true/false and multiple choice. Quizzes can be teacher paced: moving on to the next question when they teacher wishes to; or student paced: progressing at the pace of individual learners.

Real Time Feedback Systems

The real value of a Socrative Quiz is that it provides detailed reports of all student answers, allowing for targeted feedback and personalized student tracking, which are both keystones of m-learning (John Couch, Vice President, Worldwide Apple Education, First Annual Global Mobile Learning Congress 2012, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates).  Reports can be live: illustrating how many students chose which answer in bar chart form, and post activity, documenting the discrete decisions of each student. If instructors design tests so that the same item tests the same linguistic phenomenon over a series of quizzes, it will be easy to discern if a student is making progress in a certain area or not. For example, if every grammar test item five targets third person ‘s’ and a student always gets question five incorrect, then both the student and teacher knows that remedial work is necessary in this area. Even if quiz design is carried out in a laissez faire fashion, students benefit from an analysis of their results.


An Element of Fun

Dr. Reuben Puentedura, creator of the SAMR model of change and innovative implementation, says that the gaming element of e-learning engages students and this seems to be the case in Space Race, a quiz set up that pits teams against each other in their attempt to drive their rockets the furthest, the fastest. Rocket fuel equates with getting all members of the team to answer a set of questions correctly, developing student interdependence and promoting student to student teaching.


Many Cooks Make Light Work


Socrative Teacher is generative in that quizzes created by one teacher can also be used by others through an invited share system. Student designed quizzes can also be created on a Socrative Teacher platform, encouraging lessons from the learners. For example, groups of students can decide upon the questions that should go into a quiz and whilst classmates work on alternative tasks, group secretaries can take it in turn to enter test items. The quiz is then used with the class as a whole. Such quizzes are often deemed to test what has been taught, and students report that they learn more from reviewing the learning items covered to decide what merits entry into the evaluative task, than from taking the test itself.

A Survey Tool and a Brainstorming Tool.

As answers are collated, the Socrative quiz is an ideal information gathering tool. For example, at the beginning of a semester students can write down important information, email addresses, learner preferences etc. and this is all stored in one sheet in the quiz report. Teachers can elicit information on which aspects of the lesson learners find most useful or least useful using an Exit Quiz. Similarly repeated questions, to which students have to provide different answers can be a fertile brainstorming device. For instance, students may be required to voice different reasons for becoming a vegetarian or for switching to alternative energy sources etc. The ensuing report provides all students with a comprehensive record of all ideas put forward, ready for selection and use in a writing or speaking activity.

In conclusion, I believe that Socrative can meet a range of classroom needs, whilst varying the interactive focus, and pace of a lesson. It seals students into a here and now virtual world, which they find motivating and the immediate feedback facility makes the learning experience very personal for them.

This review first appeared in Perspectives Volume 19 No.3 produced by TESOL Arabia and was published here with their permission.


Skitch: Providing feedback, Giving Instructions and Developing Games

Skitch is free and can be accessed via its website or as an App. It allows users to annotate and share a new photo, one from their Camera Roll, or a web screen shot making it a very flexible classroom tool.

An Aid to Classroom Management

Students can be photographed either individually or according to where they usually sit, at the beginning of term, and their names or college identity numbers written over the photo.  This will help the teacher learn student names quickly or at least have a quick reference tool when in class. Students who have individual iPads can take a photo of something easily identifiable to them and use Skitch to write their name on the photo. This can be set as the Home Screen and Set Lock Screen, so that the device is easily identifiable.






The blank slate function can also act as a whiteboard which teachers can use when moving amongst students. It can be used with individual students or with the whole class via the projector.

An Aid in Providing Feedback in Written Work

Teachers can take a screen shot of student work, which then becomes saved in Camera Roll. After importing the photograph into Skitch, they can annotate the student authored text using a variety of colours and choose between handwriting and typing. Lexical items, sentences or areas of text can also be boxed and commented on.  Now in image format, the marked work is emailed to students who save it, insert it into a writing document and make the changes necessary to improve their work.

An Aid to Giving Clear Instructions

Annotated images provide students with clear directions on which icons to tap, the sequence to follow, the codes to submit etc. Individual images can be embedded into a Keynote Presentation or a Camera Roll Slideshow, and used in whole class lockstep or at the learner’s individual pace. These instructional clips enable teachers to circulate and provide individual help. Skitch annotations can also be embedded into PDF instructional sheets.








An Aid to Classroom Games

The Pixel-blur function helps create information gaps which lead to genuine classroom communication. For example, target vocabulary items can be partially blurred, adding another dimension to naming lexical items. Instead of simply asking ‘Can you name this word in English?’ the teacher challenges students to use their imagination.





The same effect can be achieved with the crop function. Blurred images can be effectively used in tandem with the flashcard App A Pro +.  Blurred images prompt the use of modal of possibility, as in the man up the ladder might be cleaning the windows or he may be locked out of his house.

In the thieves’ scenario, one witness can describe thief one to the police and, the other thief two. Before being interviewed by the police, the witnesses also share their descriptions with each other.






Ease of Use

Skitch is very easy to use and share, although there are occasional glitches during which the delete icon keeps reappearing whilst users try to write with the pen and sometimes marks slide down the page. One tip is to save the image to Camera Roll before writing too much. As Skitch is owned by Evernote, it also works more reliably and offers a save option if you have an Evernote Account to which it is synchronized.

I would certainly recommend this versatile programme as a key mainstay of your teaching toolkit.

This App review first appeared in Perspectives Volume 19 No. 3 produced by TESOL Arabia and was republished in this blog with their permission.




   ”Popplet is a platform for your ideas. Popplet’s super simple interface allows you to move at the speed of your thoughts. With Popplet you can capture your ideas and sort them visually in realtime.”

With its simple interface, Popplet allows iPad users to create visual mind maps in seconds. As teachers, we have been using Popplet to plan our lessons and create workflows. With a tap, it is possible to put differently colored popples, connect/disconnect, move and resize popples on the pinboard. Popplets can be saved as photos on  iPads or e-mailed as PDf or jpeg fies. Teachers can name the popplets with the date of the workflow, or the theme of the lesson for record keeping.




We have also been encouraging our students to use Popplet, especially for brainstorming before writing. The easiness of being able to crate a colorful visual mind map has been welcomed greatly be our students. They have been brainstorming on Popplet before writing and inserting the Popplet into Pages to refer to while writing. This, we must say, works really well and makes Popplet one of our most commonly used Apps!


Audioboo App for iPhones and iPads

Audioboo enables you to create, store and store and share audio digital files across multiple devices.   The free app gives you 3 minutes of recording time, and there appears to be a limitless number of Boos you can make. Audioboo Plus paid App costs £60.

The sound quality is excellent, the instruction panel is not text dense and there is a pause and resume button, is a feature which many recording apps do not have.  Boos can be tagged for easy retrieval. Tags are keywords or terms which allow words to be repeatedly located through ta searches. For example, students could pull up all Boos associated with describing people, telling stories about journeys or holidays etc. Tagging is a digital literacy skill all students should acquire as tags in order to manage disparate pieces of work. Boos can also be given titles and signature photographs for easy recognition when searching archives.

In an EFL environment teacher or student created Boos can be used as models for others to emulate or for level appropriate listening practice. Students were able to write in Pages, keep it open, press the record button in Audioboo and scroll back a screen to their Pages text, to read it out, or use the key words highlighted there as to scaffold their speaking. Knowing that their end products would be available for others to listen to, encouraged our EFL learners to raise the bar.  Many students recorded and re-recorded their descriptions before sharing them with the class via a direct email option. Peers listened to each other’s Boos and wrote comments. After feedback from students, they improved their recordings, before they are entered into their digital speaking portfolio on iBooks.

As the Audioboos produced by others can be searched for and listened to either under the Chanel Tab or on the website, Audioboo is also a great source of authentic listening materials. Channels Boos include recordings by the BBC, The Redbull’s Formula 1 Team, Manchester United Fan Club etc. Although many of these recordings are of CEFRL C1 or C2 level, they can be used with lower level learners if the task to be achieved is within their reach. For example, commentary by the BBC may require students to simply list the countries mentioned, that from the Manchester United Boos could require students to write down the number of goals scored and who scored them.

Finally, it is obvious that Boo Head Quarters are spending a lot of time developing this App and its support website. There are some interesting mini articles on how Audioboo is being used in education. It is certainly an App and a website that it work checking out.

Please also see the Lesson Plan Section of this blog, where you can find a lesson plan focusing on teacher made Boos.


Our first App of the week is eBackpack ! The App has been a quick-fix solution to our file sharing challenges. By adding a WebDav connection once, our students have been able to share their work on the key Apps, like Pages, Keynote and Numbers with us in a few taps! They have also been able to upload multimedia (photo of Popplet, iMovie, PuppetPal etc.) directly from the eBackpack App as a shared file or as assignment. eBackpack allows studentsto:

*share work with all class members through the Shared Class Folder

* share work with teacher only through Assignment-Turn-In folder

* receive feedback from the teacher through Assignment Review folder.

* keep a private folder which is not shared by anyone

* share best work through Portfolio Folder

The App is free for download; however, a package has to be purchased in order to be able to share files with students. We have to say that purchasing the ‘class’ package for 39$ , which caters for 1 teacher and 30 students, has been well worth the money considering the hassle-free file sharing on day 1 of classes!

With the iPad® module, you can easily access eBackpack from your iPad, iPhone, or other iOS device. Instantly get to your My Files, E-Portfolio, or Shared class and group files. Plus directly from the iPad students can turn in work for their class assignments and teachers can retrieval of all turned in student work. eBackpack uses a WebDAV interface to provide assignment workflow for students and teachers. (Source:

Thank you eBackpack!