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40+ Back to School Web Tools & Apps to Help English Learners Succeed

August 13, 2019

Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.

—Bill Gates

It’s that exciting time of the year when we meet new students. Technology can help us support and engage learners who struggle with language skills and literacy. Technology can also help us communicate with parents who are English learners themselves.

Below are several free web tools and apps to help you support your language learners this year so that they surpass their academic and personal learning goals. This list is to get you started, but you can visit this blog regularly to discover the free web tools and apps we share! The web tools listed focus on literacy, reading, writing, comprehension, and fluency in the four skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

Versatile Tools

Microsoft Education and Google for Education have several tools, apps, and features to help every learner. Both feature a suite of apps and tools students can use to create presentations, spreadsheets, surveys, or documents. Additionally, several of the apps have helpful features like spelling and grammar checks, translation, commenting, and dictionaries. These two platforms also provide teachers with training and free resources so they learn how to manage their classrooms, assess, grade and provide feedback much faster and easier.

Classroomscreen is an incredible classroom management tool with a timer, qr code maker, random name caller, voice level signals, and more! No registration is required.


Immersive Reader – Microsoft’s Immersive Reader is a game changer for language learners. No registration is required. Students copy and paste any text from a website, pdf, or document in order to have the words read aloud, see the parts of speech color coded, look up words quickly with a picture dictionary and more. Immersive Reader is being integrated into various popular free third party apps such as Buncee, Thinglink, and Wakelet.

Rewordify – Paste in difficult sentences, paragraphs, or chapters of text and rewordify changes it into easier language and vocabulary. Teachers who register can create games or quizzes with the vocabulary. Students who register can keep track of their reading progress.

Quizlet – Make flashcards with vocabulary lists or choose from many flash cards users have already created. Play games with these vocabulary lists. Accessible on any device.

Wordsmyth’s Children’s Dictionary and Picture Dictionary – Online dictionaries with images, audio of the word sounded out, related words, vocabulary activities, puzzles, and a thesaurus.

Storyline Online – A website with videos of celebrities reading children’s books.

Newsela – News articles written for students with quizzes and the ability to annotate. Choose articles by grade level or reading level.

Commonlit – Access readings, fiction and nonfiction for 5th to 12th graders. Search and filter the collection by lexile, grade, theme, genre, literary device, or common core standard.

Owl Eyes – A web tool to annotate the classics and answer quizzes.

Epic Books – Unlimited access to 35,000 of the best books, learning videos, quizzes and more for ages 12 and under.

DOGO News – A website and iOS/Android app for K to 12 students to find current events and research based articles. Each article includes images or videos and gives a citation for students to copy.

English Central – Students practice their pronunciation by watching popular videos and measuring their pronunciation of what was said in the video.

Starfall​ – Interactive stories and phonics games for very young learners.

Learn English Kids – Interactive games, songs, stories, and videos for young language learners.

Language Learning Apps

Duolingo – iOS, Android, and web app that gamifies learning English. Students earn points for correct answers, racing against the clock, and completing short lessons.

Busuu – Students learn English with bite-sized lessons, flashcards, quizzes, and chats with native speakers.

Bilingua – A language exchange iOS and Android app that connects learners with native speakers through messaging, games, and soon video and audio. A bot helps provide conversation tips and defines words.

Parent Engagement

Class Dojo – An iOS, Android, and web app for sharing photos and videos of wonderful classroom moments, student work, and student behavior achievements. Communicate with parents quickly through messaging. Instantly translate messages into 30+ languages.

Remind – An iOS, Android, and web app where teachers can send text messages with links, images, and attachments to anyone who subscribes. Translate messages into more than 70 languages.

Class Tag – Offers a variety of tools to communicate with parents via text messages or the phone. Messages are translated in the parent’s preferred language then back to English.

Bloomz – An iOS, Android, and web app for sharing photos, videos, and announcements in multiple languages.

Digital Storytelling and Presentations

Buncee – Create digital books, posters, greetings, or presentations with audio, video, stickers, templates, stylized fonts, qr codes, and more. Students can use immersive reader within the platform.

Genially – Create interactive content, such as timelines, animated presentations, infographics, videos, posters, and quizzes.

Makebeliefs – Create comics in multiple languages. Choose from the library of characters and backgrounds.

My Story Book – Very young children can easily create a storybook by choosing backgrounds, adding characters, and typing in the story. No registration is required and ad free.

Toondoo – Create comic strips or books with a library of characters and backgrounds or draw your own.

Storybird – Students create beautiful text stories by choosing from their library of free art. The story is embeddable. With a teacher account create student logins and students able to collaborate on stories.

Book Creator – Create digital books or comics with easy to use templates, 50 different fonts, and stickers. Students can include video, audio, and text. There are several accessibility features, such as adding descriptions to images.

WriteReader – Children from ages 3 to 10 years-old can learn to read by writing and publishing digital books.

Class Discussion

Flipgrid – Engage and empower every voice in your classroom by recording and sharing short videos with the ability to include stickers. Students can respond to other videos or share their videos in augmented reality. Students can also access immersive reader within the platform.

Linoit – Sticky web wall accessible on any device in which students can post videos, images, audio, or text notes. No registration required.

Padlet – Create a beautiful sticky web wall with their various templates and images. Only 3 are free. Students can post videos, images, audio, or text notes.

Parlay – A web tool that helps you design collaborative online class discussions investigating any topic, video, article, or link. You can choose from the database of created topics with a set of questions to choose from or create a discussion from scratch.

VoiceThread – Interactive way to present stories, images, or host discussions. Parents and students can leave comments by text, video, or audio. They can draw on the images and choose avatars.

Audio Recording

Vocaroo – Easily record audio then email to students who can record audio back. No registration is required. You can also send a link, create a qr code, or download the clip.

Voki – Add voice via text or audio to animated characters, animals, and historical figures. Students can add their own drawings as a background.

Design a Game or Quiz

Kahoot – Teachers and students can create engaging trivia quizzes and games accessible on any device. New features include a question bank, polls, autosave, and new characters.

Quizizz – A web tool and app to create fun games and quizzes. Teachers have the option of showing a meme after a question is answered.

Tiny Tap – An iOS app where students create learning games, interactive presentations and quizzes. The website has a free library of thousands of games, presentations, and quizzes designed by others.

Virtual Learning Environments

Google Classroom – Create a virtual classroom where students can turn in assignments or post responses to discussions. Students can respond to each other. Easily assign work, grade, and create rubrics.

Edmodo – A safe virtual learning platform for schools. Create assignments, grade or give a digital badge. Accessible on any device.

Schoology – Set up a learning management system that is accessible on any device and easily post assignments, grade, and keep attendance.

Nearpod – Create assignments and presentations for your classes. Students enter your live session with a pin on any device and turn it into you right there. Grade their work.

Edublogs – Student blogging platform and virtual classroom designed for educational purposes to keep students safe.

PBWorks – Create several free collaborative websites that are ad free where students can add images, video, or embedded creations. Comes with a plagiarism checker.

What are your favorite back to school web tools and apps for language learners?

If you want to receive more of Shelly’s tips for online resources for teaching English, check out her feed!

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Comments (2)

Helene L.(Teacher)

Great, thank you so much!

Reply to Comment

Lei Kayanuma(Author)

Thanks, Helene! Happy teaching :)

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