The Best Free English Learning Apps and games for kids.

…….and one paid šŸ˜›

Just before I jump into this i need to clarify, these apps are free, some with ads (everyone’s gotta eat) some with out, some are free sometimes and paid for at other times but worth looking out for, and some are my own. I will justify that alllll the way at the end where I will put them in the spirit of fairness.

Also I think it is worth mentioning that I am a teacher of English working in a primary school in Hong Kong at the moment and use these ones fairly regularly in my classrooms. So it is from experience I recommend and not any backhanders just yet!

Finally, sorry for going on a bit, These apps are for the most part pick up  and put down, and playable as a whole class. So many education apps now are walked up behind email forms, paywalls and progression these ones can be used to supplement a lesson or teaching point, and if they are mine I wrote them as a teacher who does just this, use them for a ten minute burst to highlight a point, no accounts, no work through till the end just pick up , play and put down.

Apps are useful but they are merely a tool, not a curriculum. so with that in mind below is some information and links to play. where they are on both apps stores I will highlight that and if on line so you can play as a classroom I will mention that. As a spoiler that’s basically my apps and Teach Your Monster to Read, which is where i will start.

Teach Your Monster to Read.

Price: Free for a week or two each year. ( other wise about 5 USD)

Pros:

  • Progression and practice modes
  • Easy to play and engaging for students
  • free to play on the website
  • covers all the phonic sounds, sight words and sentence construction
  • very professionally made and maintained with good support
  • able to be monitored by teachers easily.

This, despite me being proud of my own apps, is the best English learning app out there. I can only dream of making something this good. It main focus is on phonics and word construction so is great for younger or ESL students. It is colourful, engaging and students will play for as long as they can get away with.

Cons:

  • expensive if using on multi tablet
  • story can be a little wordy

can be expensive for schools if they want to get a few, and the spoken story could do with either being simple or having subtitles.

The gameplay consists of taking control of a monster who needs to fix his spaceship after a crash, ( space and monsters always a win) they travel around practicing the sounds of english, with both sound and letter recognition games that are as useful as they are fun. There is progression in the SATPNI order of phonics and sight words are included as mini games.

Students can sign up and play on their own, however i use it to create an account and hand to the students which enables a whole host of teacher benefits, including statistics, level, time played, posters and certificates of completion, and all manor of other rewards. these can be printed en masse and there has been serious thought into making it work in educational settings.

They also maintain a website that has mini games that can be played with a whole class as well as posters , images and wall decorations. I have included how i use some of it here.

For those of us teaching in less affluent areas it is free all the time on PC and free for a week or two each year on the app stores. Keep an eye open for it.

However, they are a charity and if you or your school have the means to buy it i would strongly recommend you do, it is supporting their work and they produce such good materials it is worth it.

It should be the benchmark that all Language apps for younger learners are measured against.

Monkey Word School Adventure

Price: 1.99 USD ( this is always paid but its worth mentioning)

Pros:

  • Multi Mini games
  • Fun and engaging
  • Scales in difficultly (they say)
  • can be played with no long instructions

Cons:

  • Only a paid version
  • no way to choose subjects or topics
  • not ideal for classroom and no web version

Monkey Word School Adventure is a fun engaging learning app designed to assist young learners practice phonics and word construction. The app is made of a collection of Mini-games that rotate and change at random. Monkey Word School Adventure presents the game in a lively and fun way, and both the games and the images will entertain children.

It is said to scale up and i can affirm i have noticed it get more difficult, it does allow multiple users, but only on the tablet or phone it is used on so for schools this may be a logistical issue and there is no website version that i have found.

Fish School – Letter recognition

Price: Free on Android and Apple ( Khan Academy had something to do with that)

Pros:

  • Looks and functions great
  • good for students or children to pick up and go
  • Has more than just letter sounds, covers other subjects (ish)

Cons:

  • Not huge content inside
  • doesn’t have phonic sounds just the names ( and song) of the alphabet

Duck Duck Moose make great looking apps and this is another example, it is clearly aimed at Kindergarten age and so may or may not have its uses in a primary or ESL classroom. However it covers alphabet ( annoyingly not the sounds just the letter names) , shapes, colours and odd one out in a series of interactive screens.

It is style over substance in my opinion but that style does make up for a lack of content or education purpose. Better for students or children to plan on their own instead of part of a lesson.

Learn English For Kids

Price: Free on Android cant find on Apple

Pros:

  • Free!
  • 10 categories
  • Has clear oral distributions

Cons:

  • Americanised (or ized) ( if not looking for that)
  • some categories seem to be light on content
  • it is just a flashcard app, there are bigger but usually behind paywalls

A flashcard app ( the only one i will put here) that is easy to use and if students need some vocab practice then this will fit the bill. I put it here as it is free, and they haven’t hidden anything behind a paywall. There are other prettier apps, but they have a cash wall and this doesn’t, that makes it more useful for multiple tablet institutions.

Kids Learning Word Games

Price: Free ( limited in app)

Pros

  • Free ( mostly)
  • Functional, can be used as part of a lesson
  • multiple ways of presenting the information

Cons:

  • there are prettier apps
  • still some paywalls present
  • hard to find in store hence the link

I like this one, it has content and functionality and most of it is not hided behind payments. It does have adverts but there were not too intrusive and , to me at least, the prettiness isn’t an issue as i want to use these in class so i don’t want the tantrums from the students when i ask them to stop.

It works, and although not any customisation options if you have a need to practice English in large groups this could be worth a look.

AR Flashcards

Price: free ( but some in app purchases)

Pros:

  • Free ( lovely)
  • Cute and Child friendly
  • Encourages students to do more work ( if you make an Alphabet zoo or similar)

Cons:

  • 3 (possibly 2) of the vowel sounds are off ( I, O and U )
  • Some animals are a little rare ( hard to find animals beginning with U, X and Y though)
  • mainly for younger learners

You could find worse ways to introduce the Alphabet than this app. It will be fun and engaging for young learners and definitely when i have used it, makes them want to do more. I have it as a ‘make your own alphabet zoo’ activity that is on teachers pays teachers ( for free i think) i do use my own app for this though. The animals are cute and work well within the app, for no dollars it is certainly worth exploring!

There is other content with in the app, dinosaurs, space, shapes etc. However some of this is hidden behind a paywall. They maintain a website so you can take a better look. it also has the AR triggers for download there as well as linked on their play-store pages.

Quiver Colouring App

Price: Free ( with some in app purchases)

Pros:

  • Great for special projects or events
  • Easy to use and free ( mostly)
  • Interactive and educational

Cons:

  • Has downloadable paywall content
  • Can be hit and miss with the AR aspects
  • that’s it

This is really a great app. In my teaching i have used it from P1 (6 years old) to P6 (12 year old) but there are uses beyond those age ranges as well. They have a family of applications under the Quiver brand including education, fashion and masks. I have used them for festivals and holidays for students to make their own interactive Christmas cards and for older students to put a fully working AR volcano into their project work, both highly effective.

The two i use most often are the education and general app, the photos show an couple of example of them, but there are many others. their website has the AR triggers to download for free, but check before you use them in the app to make sure the one you want is not pay-walled. ( not that much is)

Zoo Kazam

Price: Free for one of each animal (rest behind a paywall)

UPDATE I can’t find the paid version on Android now. ( still worth it btw)

Pros:

  • Well made animals
  • Has considerable information about each one.
  • Only one animal free per category ( its only a dollar though)

Cons:

  • Paywall…
  • the language is a little complex for younger learners or ESL students.
  • Animals are not interactive ( though they do move)

Lastly, in AR at least us this beautifully made animal AR app, has 42 different animals in multiple categories. These include Dinosaurs, amphibians, mammals, fish and pets. Each animal comes with information as well as a well made 3d AR model. there are also two markers, so you can glue or stick to a wall and have the animals on the tables for as long as you need. As shown in the photos the two markers have different ways of presenting the animal and there is a photo mode in the app to take advantage of that.

It is also possible to use real world objects as markers and this enables you to put the animals all over the place, there is also a new Video mode in the app so you can record reactions or make little mini movies with it. I haven’t tried this as i use the Carlton books apps for the video side of things with my students, but it seems to be similar.

It can be used as an introduction to animals for younger learners and of course as a genuine resource and information bank for older learners.

It even has a polar bear which, lets face it, may be the only way to see one if we carry on like we are, and on that happy note we will leave AR behind.

CVC Word Scramble Phonics Play and CVC blitz ( for apple)

Price: Free and paid versions

Simple English words are mixed up and children and students are asked to move the letters till they spell the words correctly. These words are all three letters and can be used to teach decoding and spelling strategies, including sounding out, picture recognition, phonics and onset and rime.

Pros

  • its mine!
  • it is designed to be use briefly and to teach simple word construction.
  • it’s free, and paid if the ads bother you that much.

Cons:

  • it could be prettier
  • it is focused on one skill

There are 4 versions included and these include

CVC Timed: a 60 second word game where the student tries to make as many words as they can in time. This allows classrooms with less
access to technology to take turns easier.

Pictures Round: CVC and three letter mixed up word game with pictures to help
visual learners. There is a 60 second limit to allow for turn
taking.

Please check out my other posts on both VR in schools and other educational matters and if you want to know more feel free to email me on info@makingenglishfun.com or to sign up with the form below.

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