learn English

Research in brief: Alderfer ESL Program Assessment Tool

What might be optimal ESL provision in international schools?

Alderfer and Alderfer (2011) state that there is no unifying set of criteria to assess ESL programs in international school contexts. Their research sets out to provide one.

The authors outline four categories through which ESL programs can be assessed:

  • Program conditions
  • Student learning conditions
  • Teaching conditions
  • Home culture conditions
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App review: Studycat

Studycat is a language learning app for young learners. It aims to ‘revolutionise the way kids learn a foreign language, by making it fun and engaging’. According to the Studycat website, the app has been downloaded by 11 million families, it is multi-award winning, and it provides opportunities to learn more than just English – Chinese, French, Spanish and German too.

The main approach is learning through play. It aims to ‘create gameplay that naturally leads to language acquisition’. This very brief video from the Studycat subscription channel should give you a feel for the app:

As with many edtech tools, Studycat is currently free to support home learning (Corona), so it’s a good time to check it out. It comes with a LMS and book resources, although I am reviewing this product based mainly on the app as it appears to be the driving force of the product. (more…)

Review: British Council apps for learning English

Students often ask me if I know any good websites and apps for learning English. There are a fair few websites I recommend, and this list is always growing (note: the latest edition is TubeQuizard). Apps though? Er…

Feeling ignorant, and especially ignorant when it comes to the British Council’s own products, I’ve spent this week downloading our apps and testing them out. Honestly, some are great. Some are a bit limited or a bit outdated, but I’ve certainly found some gems. Here’s my take on the best and the rest.

Disclaimer: all views are my own. All screen shots from my phone are (I guess) copyright British Council.

The young learner apps from the British Council are by far the most engaging, as you might expect!

Learning Time with Timmy

Cost: £2.99, or £6.99 for Timmy 1, 2 and 3

This is a really fun app for very young learners. Timmy the Sheep guides learners through three different games to help them learn basic vocabulary (transport, objects, animals, etc) and numbers. With each complete level they unlock a sticker or a short video clip.

This is the ‘put stuff in a box’ game. There’s also a ‘pop the balloon’ one and a ‘find something in the mud/under the leaves’ one! Overall, loads of swiping, pressing, dragging, etc. Very interactive, as you’d expect for VYLs. Also it’s visually great. My favourite feature is the sticker boards. You can decorate various scenes with the stickers you win.

The app in a few words: Well worth the money

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