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.



Describing Places with Audioboo and QR Codes

Learning Objectives

To provide students with the vocabulary and language structures necessary to be able to describe a place they know and to recognize places described by peers in written descriptions.

21st Century Skills 

  • To foster the students ability to work through a set of exercises independently and to collaborate with fellow learners when they encounter difficulties.
  • To encourage research skills and develop the students’ ability to know where to look for background information when necessary e.g. Students can use Google Maps and Wikipedia information to help them guess places their friends had written about.
  • To provide an opportunity for students to self-evaluate and decide when they have learned something well enough to be able to complete a task.
  • To encourage student organizational skills. Students need to get into pairs and groups and follow sets of written and spoken instructions. Students need to remember these instructions over a number of steps.
  • Mobile Learning Skills
  • To recognize the name of several WEB 2.0 tools and apps and be able to navigate between them, using appropriate passwords and reading iPad semiotics correctly.
  • To use a QR reader efficiently in order to gain access to an answer key and the digital donations of fellow students. 

Lesson plan

  1. Teacher gives an overview of the one hour lesson, setting learning targets in terms of communicative skills and how they add value to the students. This overview (boarded prior to the lesson) provides students with a choice of routes through the vocabulary stage of the lesson. It is advantageous to keep the workflow on a semi-permanent surface and not on the projected screen, so that everyone can refer to the overview throughout the lesson.
  2. Student choices are provided via Quizlet ( working at the word level) and Spelling City( working with words at the sentence level) this allows fast finishers to challenge themselves, and allows students to work on what they think is important for them. Links are provided via LMS such as Edmodo or emailed to students. Students can also sign into the app.(see the link below)
  3. Teacher to foster independence by asking students  to look at the title on the board and  find the appropriate app or exercise on their iPad, rather than opening up apps for students.
  4. Students have 20 minutes to work on vocabulary acquisition and sentence syntax. The Big Sign app facilitates time management.

20 minute vocab

5. The class is divided into 2 groups for the Dubai/ Abu Dhabi listening and language input stage. Podcasts were made using Audioboo.(see the link below

for the links and worksheets) Print out the worksheets so that students do not need to alternate between iPad panes which really hinders control of the audio recording.

6. Teacher breaks up the instructions for the listening phase of the lesson into steps. For example, she explains a step and gets students to locate the correct listening. An Explain Everything Screencast is used to illustrate the instructions.

checking answers with qr codes

7. Students listen to an audio description of a city and fill in the gaps. Podcasts are shared via an LMS or email.  Students are able to listen to the podcast as many times as necessary. The gap filled words are from the vocabulary exercises. Answer keys are provided by QR Codes. Students need  a QR code reader to be able to access the information.  Students need to understand the information and be able to retell it in a pair work jigsaw listening and speaking exercise.

ab dubai speaking pairs

8. After getting new information from a jigsaw partner, students return to their original group and share the information they have gained. This provides them with a second chance to describe a place.

9. Teacher monitors and records recurring errors.  Errors are to be boarded using different coloured pens to aid noticing and self-correction. Error correction work can be captured on Explain Everything or another screencasting tool and made available to students for future reinforcement.

10. In a previous lesson, students write descriptions of a secret place and email it to their teacher. They do not share the location of the place with anyone, creating a genuine information gap. The teacher saves the secret description into a URL generating site such as a public Google Drive folder or Files Everywhere.  One URL is needed per description.  The URL is used to create a QR Code for each location using a QR code generator such as QR stuff ( ) or Zxing ( ).  QR codes are saved to Pictures on a laptop and printed out. Each QR code is named e.g. Place 1, Place 2 etc.  It is important that the teacher writes down which student described which place for the place confirmation feedback slot. The labeled QRcodes are stuck around the classroom. Students armed with their iPads or mobile phones use a QR Code Reader to unlock the text and write the name of each place against its number on a list. Students are encouraged to use other mobile resources such as Google Maps to help them identify individual locations.

great qr reading ipad

11. Teacher projects a list of which student wrote which description e.g. Ahmed =Place 1. The whole class share their location guesses and the author of the description confirms or corrects the guesses.

qr collaboration

Overall Lesson Evaluation

  The learning aims of the lesson were met as students were able to use the vocabulary from the review phase to complete the listening gap fill and in many cases they spelt the words correctly or were able to self-correct.

There was evidence of self and peer correction during the monologue phase.  In reality, there was not a genuine information gap as students already know about the two cities described, and so the pair-work retelling and the group work recap were actually only at the classroom display level of communication. However, students were prepared to engage in this classroom specific behaviour in order to learn, and speaking about familiar places, for which they had substantial background knowledge, seemed to increase their confidence. The 21st century skills of collaborative learning and independent learning were definitely fostered in this lesson, and have been developed in previous lessons as most students were able to navigate between apps and between screens. Students moved between Google Maps, and some checked up which islands were next to Spain. The signs of students working independently at their own pace were that when some learners were reading the answer key, others were still working on Audioboo podcast. One fast finishers returned to the descriptions of the teacher’s secret place for the previous day to revise language structures, whilst another reviewed vocabulary on Quizlet. Students are learning to judge how much time they have during the hiatus between their finishing their work and beginning a whole class activity, and using the time slot to challenge themselves accordingly. This is major way on which m-learning adds value to the classroom. However, even though  learners have been using Quizlet for 11 weeks, some students still cannot get into Spelling City without assistance because they do not type in the class name correctly. Two students opened up the first thing they saw in Edmodo. They did not read key words such as vocabulary or listening. I need to focus on these students at the beginning of activities and ask them guiding questions to help them be successful and internalize the digital sequences.


The QR Code Secret Place activity obviously got students interested and engaged. Students did not know who had written a description of which place and so did not try to short cut the reading by asking each other for names. Instead they read an average of 8 out of 12 texts each, with faster students reading all 12 texts. The weakest student read 6 texts. Two students were not present that day and we were not able to ascertain the correct location of their descriptions. The next day in class, as soon as these two students entered the room, others asked about their secret places. I saw this as proof that the students were genuinely motivated by the activity which challenged more than their language knowledge.

 A key 21st century skill is to know who is an expert in what area and to know where to find information. I try to develop student interdependence by making them aware that others in the group are a source of knowledge and support by asking questions such as  “Can anyone help him spell ……?”. I also help students to feel a valued, contributing member of a team by giving them responsibility for giving out handout worksheets, pencils etc. During the lesson, I made an error handing out worksheets and students immediately picked this up and informed me. This shows they are aware of what is happening and feel responsible for making things work efficiently, and I believe it is good to model a positive attitude to errors. Acknowledging the two mistakes I made, gives students the freedom to make mistakes themselves and to experiment and hypothesis test, an essential ingredient in collaborative group work and learning by doing. This is especially true in m-Learning where things are constantly changing, and during this lesson there were many examples of students helping each other with technology.



Vocabulary links:

Spelling City App, teacher ADMC Level1, Writing about cities. Sentence Unscramble (app only).




Audioboo links for the podcasts.


Student 1: Describing Abu Dhabi

TASK ONE:  Go to Edmodo- Describing Abu Dhabi Audioboo. Listen and fill in the gaps on this paper.

The capital of the United Arab Emirates is Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi means the 1. _____________ of the deer or gazelle. Abu Dhabi is 2. ____________________ in the center of the Emirati coast. Abu Dhabi is 3. __________________­­­­­­­­­­___________ the sea and the desert. Abu Dhabi is an 4. _________________________and the city is situated on the island and on the 5. ______________________.   It is a very big city with a 6. ____________________________ of one million people. Abu Dhabi is famous because it was the 7. ________________ of Sheikh Zayed, the father of the U.A.E. It has a big 8._______________and a long beach called the Corniche.  Abu Dhabi is a 9. __________. Lots  of 10. _____________ stop in Abu Dhabi. In the past, Abu Dhabi was 11.________________ for pearls. Now, it is famous for shopping. There are lots of 12._______________________ malls such as Marina Mall and Al Wadha Mall. Abu Dhabi is a very 13.____________________ city with lots of wonderful buildings. The Emirates Palace is one of the best hotels in the 14._________________________.

TASK TWO:  Read the description again. Underline Key words. You will tell a friend about Abu Dhabi.


Student 2: Describing Dubai

TASK ONE:  Go to Edmodo- Describing Dubai Audioboo. Listen and fill in the gaps on this paper.

The second city of the United Arab Emirates is 1.____________. Dubai is situated on the Emirati 2._________________. Dubai is between the sea and the 3.__________________. It is not an island. It is on the 4.____________________. It is a big city with a population of a 5.________________ people. Dubai is famous because it is a 6.__________________ resort. It has many hotels and a long 7._______________ called Jumeriah Beach. Dubai is a 8.__________________. Lots and 9.________________ stop in Dubai.  Now it’s famous for 10._________________. There are 11.__________________ shopping malls such as Mall of the Emirates. Dubai is a 12.__________________ city with many beautiful buildings. Khalifa Tower is the 13.____________________ building in the world.

Answer Key


TASK TWO:  Read the description again. Underline Key words. You will tell a friend about Dubai.




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.

Emirati National Day

December 2nd is National Day in the United Arab Emirates.  This year will be the 41st anniversary of the unification of the Emirates. Today we celebrated at college with a car parade of cars adorned with national flags and photos. There were also stalls displaying local products and artifacts such as henna painting and reed weaving. I took lots of photos and videos with the belief that they will be useful for future iPad projects.


I initially used the photos in class to help students students prepare for a paired question and answer speaking exam. As a teacher the beauty of doing this on the iPad was that it literally took 15 mins maximum to put together as a lesson, once I had taken the photos. The Audioboo was unrehearsed and I thank Robert Dobie  for agreeing to make a spontaneous recording. Robert produces

Here is the steps we followed:

Provide an example of the speaking task :

Task Prompt: Look at the three photos and decide which stall you would visit if you were at the National Day Celebrations, but only had time to visit one stall.  ( The car is part of a decorated car parade. There is a prize for the winner.)

Play Audio boo to demonstrate the task and elicit key language.

Use Skitch and photos to name items in photo, brainstorm words onto the photos that students can use during the speaking task.

Practice would you like to… Do you like verb ing  Questions ( optional)

Students carry out the same speaking task  from the Audioboo. This scaffolds them into the task.

Students swop partners and  repeat process with new pictures

Students record themselves conducting the speaking tasks using Audioboo, then  listen  and evaluate their performance .

The whole class listen to a number of class generated recordings and discuss strengths and things to work on .


The 6 photos were collated  using the Pic Collage App.


 Here are two videos from the celebrations. One of the car parade by students, and another one of the Emirati National Dance performed by a group of students.

car parade

dance video



I am sharing some of these here as one of the great things about e-learning is that students have access to many cultures and traditions previously unavailable to them. Please feel free to use them.

For really professional photos of the U.A,E taken by a colleague Peter Waters, please visit his blog:

I will post more photos of the celebrations taking place on National Day itself- December 2nd.



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.

Listening Lesson Using Audioboo. Describing People, Elementary Level. STUDENT COPY

Listening activities: Describing People One        OPEN IN PAGES.       Level One                                    


Write down the opposite adjective. Use the underlined words  There are three extra words:

Straight           short    short               beautiful          unfriendly        dark     blonde             small   noisy    ugly            talkative          nice     funny              single

e.g.      tall      short











TASK TWO: Go to Spelling City and practice these words

Route 1:

Route 2: Spelling City App, Level1, ADMC Level 1, Describing a Person: Appearance and Personality. password is ‘English’






TASK THREE: Read one of the descriptions below. (Your teacher might tell you which one to read)

John, a college student:


Okay, I am short and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.



James, a doctor


I am short, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my

friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.


TASK THREE: Listen to James or John talking about themselves.  Listen and find the differences between what they say and what you read.

  1. 1.       Listen and highlight the word

John, a college student:


Okay, I am short and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.

  1. 2.       Listen again and  change the word

Okay, I am tall and athletic. I play a lot of sports such as baseball, football, and tennis. I have black hair and dark brown eyes. My friends say I am friendly and nice. I am very quiet. I do not like talking a lot. I love reading about interesting ideas and meeting new friends.

TASK THREE: Listen to James or John talking about themselves.  Listen and find the differences between what they say and what you read.

  1. 1.      Listen and highlight the word

James, a doctor


I am short, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my

friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.

  1. 2.       Listen again and  change the word


I am small, but I am fat! I am sometimes quiet around people I do not know. With my friends and family, I am very friendly and funny. My mum says I have a handsome face. I like my beard and moustache. I also like my short, brown hair. My favorite colour is red and I like listening to music and going to concerts.

TASK FOUR: Find a partner who listened to the other person. E.g. You listened to John, find someone who listened to James.

Tell your partner about your person. Use he/his e.g. His name is J…… He is a ……… He has……… He is…….

TASK FIVE:  You will record yourself describing a friend.

 Plan what you will say. Talk about his appearance and personality.

TASK SIX: Download the App Audioboo. (free version) 

Record yourself speaking about your friend.

Send the recording to or to



A Review of Week Four of EFL Through iPads: Learner Independence Begins

A Review of Week Four of Teaching ESL Through iPads.  Learner Independence Begins

This week was so productive week as we succeeded in work creatively through producing both teacher and student driven material in line with learner outcomes. Students were able to see the interconnectivity of one eight hour block of work, using teacher authored materials as models or points of reference when creating texts of their own. They moved between Apps of their own volition, as they are now more familiar with where they can get the type of help they needed in written or audio form. Hence, some learner worked really independently, reaching targets and showing others that they had all of the resources they needed to do so in the one compact device in their hands.

Describing People’s Appearance and Personality.


  • To give students the language and vocabulary to enable them to write and talk about people they know.
  • To provide students with models of people describing themselves and others.
  • To provide students with a platform through which they could share their descriptions of peers.
  • To make students aware of where they could find information they needed.
  • To provide students with both extensive and intensive listening practice.

Vocabulary Input

Key lexis lists were created in Spelling City, flashcards were made in A Pro +, and a You Tube Video link was shared. Students had access to these resources at all times and it was evident that they used them as a dictionary or, going back to them for the words they wanted. I encouraged this by sharing the following ‘where to find the resources you need ‘ Popplet mind map with students.

Initially, students were given an hour to work with these three vocabulary learning vehicles in any way they wished. Some students worked purely on line, whilst a few chose to enter words they did not know at all into paper based notebooks. No one used the British Council My Word Book App. I am not sure whether this is because they find it difficult to use, and need more training on it, or if they feel they do not need another digital resource.

Language Input

Audio input

The Audioboo IPhone App was used to create three short oral descriptions of People. (see the lesson plan section of this blog)  My best friend Claire, was followed by a Socrative Quiz which was student paced, i.e. students decided when to move to the next question) The audio was played from Apple TV and each student had the Socrative Quiz open on their iPad. Quiz results were emailed to students, informing them of which items they answered correctly and where they had gone wrong. Students individually listened to the Audioboo again, so that they could listen specifically to erroneous items. For example, one student had confused 50 with 15, one student Rose with Rosen. This type of personalized feedback is one of the key benefits of digital programmes.

In a display what you know, team recap game, students were encouraged to reiterate the information they had just heard, encouraging input to become output,

At a later stage, students listened to other spoken descriptions of two men. They were asked to spot the differences between a written tape script and each recording.

Written Input

Students were presented with a PDF worksheet downloaded from the website-Lesson Plans for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teachers, created by Catherine Schell . This provided them with language form focused work.  Several students referred to the descriptions here, when composing their own texts. More students used the Pages document accompanying the Audioboo,  as they were able to copy paste and make changes to it. How much is this a danger of the purely softcopy issuing of materials? Fortunately, the soft copy version was in first person singular and so students needed to transform all of the verbs, giving them practice in subject verb agreement.

Converting the Written Word into the Spoken Word

Using the Speak Selection function in Pages students were able to listen to a spoken version of the text they had written about their friend. This is activated by tapping on, Settings, General, Accessibility, Speak Selection, choose a slow pace.  When iPaders select all and highlight a text, the Speaker option appears. Tapping this option initiates a spoken rendition of their written word. Some students were able to identify errors in their writing as they are more accustomed to hearing language. For example, one student asked why the auto voice read out Live ( adjective  form pronounced like alive) and not live (verb form). I asked if his verb and subject agreed and he immediately realized that it did not and corrected ‘He live’ to ‘He lives’.  Students listened to the rendition of their work several times, shadowing it, i.e. repeating the sentence in the same manner as the computer read it out. Afterwards they recorded the text on Audioboo and shared it with the class via email.I was able to leave a comment on each students work, directly on Audioboo.  Students will then add this work to their spoken portfolio in Creative Book Builder, adding their Audioboo as a link.

Providing Students with Extensive Listening Practice.

It is difficult to find extensive listening practice at the correct level for beginner students. As yet, our institution has not been able to purchase audio tracks that accompany a digital book. Hence, I used iMovies to record myself reading an elementary graded reader. I read through the video camera screen, stopping after each page do that the movie could be emailed to students easily. I gave each email a clear title, so that students were able to open up each audio attachment and save it to camera roll. They created an album in camera roll, by using the edit button. They saved the graded reader iMovies into the Album labeled with the graded reader’s name.  When they tapped in slideshow, they were able to listen to graded reader being read aloud for as long as they wanted to.  Our teaching team is planning to record several readers in this way, so that students have no shortage of audio books at their level. In addition, we are planning to allocate one page of a graded reader to each student. They will rehearse reading the page aloud and then record it via iMovies and send it to the class email. I need to experiment with putting the iMovies into iBooks.