Week 12 – Memrise

I am still looking at learning languages apps. This week I read a review of seven of them an chose one that had Arabic available and sounded good – Memrise.

I really like this site as it teachers sounds and letter first in addition to offering memes as well as the opportunity to create your own meme. There was a lot of repetition both for memorization of letters, sounds, and the writing. Here are some pictures I took as I worked through the first four sets of 3-4 letters each:

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This last picture shows the meme I made to help me remember the shape connected to the m sound. The only thing that is a little messes up is that it has you arrange the letters – Arabic letters have different shapes depending on if they are at the beginning, middle, or end of the word and the language reads right to left – but the program has you enter the letter from right to left so you are doing the last first – seems counter to the actual application.

So this program supposedly has a bunch of letters and quizzes for free. There is another version that costs $9 per month.


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After getting stuck with a bill last week from Fluent U and a total ordeal to get out of it, I am not subscribing to anything. This is – after three other sites plus You Tube videos on Arabic – this is my favorite so far!


Week 11 – FluentU

I did a search for the best apps for ESL students. The politically correct term anymore is ELL, so as to not assume students only have two languages – merely that they are learning English – ie. English Language Learners. However, I figured there ws probably still a lot of ESL stuff floating around the internet – and voila it was better than a previous search under “ELL.”

The first one mentioned was FluentU, so I took a look:

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I could not figure out how to check it out without entering my credit card – that was a super bummer because I really liked the look of the website and the reviews were great. So I joined and made a note to unjoin before the 15 day free trial is up. $15 per month.

I went through the first set of vocab words, all associated with household items – it was a You Tube video – which of course made me wonder if I couldn’t have just gone directly to YouTube – but they probably have a privacy setting for only members. I can compare it with Mondly – and except that I am doing Arabic on Mondly and doing English for beginners on FluentU, they are quite comparable.

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It did let me set a daily goal of how many minutes as you can see here. I like the idea of earning points – kind of adds a little motivation. I should mention this site does not offer Arabic – it had about 8 languages – the basic European set plus I think Chinese.

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This was a picture of the video with the pronunciations. I also looked at another seciton that had a bunch of icons you could choose from. One said homophones – I think as a beginner in English – I would not even know what it was talking about. There wasn’t an overview that I found to show a logical progression through the lessons. That is the same problem I am having on Mondly – no real overview to explain grammar or the take on teaching. I am relying on You Tube heavily to explain Arabic – not Mondly. So this site might be a nice help if you had a student who needed extra practice time, but I think as a teacher, you would have to pick and choose where they should go. The cost seems to be on a par for other language sites.

Week 10 – Edutopia

I was looking for things to help ELL students and I stumbled across this site – Edutopia. I tried to add the app to my phone to check it out on there and it did not show up. So I am not sure if I missed something – but it isn’t an app. However it is a site with a bunch of news for teachers.

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I watched the beginning of one of these and realized this is actual news. It is not the toned down politically correct happy teacher stuff – it is real. I like it a lot.

Here was a video about alternative practices to traditional suspension:

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In addition to videos, there are also articles that I thought really address issues, we as teachers are interested in. For instance there was an article on cutting down the time spent grading.

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Basically it is like a magazine for teachers but online. I like the videos especially – since then I can grade and listen to a video at the same time. I spend a lot of time grading.

How much is it? It’s free – a grant from filmmaker George Lucas:

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So not only does he make some of the best movies out there – he also is helping teachers!


Week 9 – Mondly

I wanted to look at some ways online that people learn languages. This is a language app for learning other languages. At the basic level it is free and actually has a decent amount of vocabulary and some phrases for free.

This shows the opening page right after you sign up (without a credit card). You can choose the more advanced version for $9.99 a month. That gets you voice recognition (if you are within internet range). The vocabulary is available once it uploads to your phone even if you are out of cell range (which my house is).

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The Hello balloon has eight lessons all of vocabulary and phrases. It also gives you verb conjugation.

The “chat bot” is only available with a subscription.

The disadvantages are that there doesn’t seem to be any over riding method to the lessons. Sometimes the vocabulary fits together and sometimes it doesn’t. It does not remind me of my classes in languages in high school. However, it does do a nice job of repeating pronunciation over and over if you want to. I am working on Arabic. So here is the second drawback, it does not teach writing the Arabic alphabet. I had to get a second app for that. I also watch You Tube videos.

I have been using this site as well: Arabic Course

It takes a more traditional approach and gives more of an overview.

Why is she learning Arabic? I have a English teaching job in Abu Dhabi, UAE in the fall. I am pretty excited and was trying to figure out how to “do as the Romans do” – I thought I would “brush up” on my Arabic. They actually speak English there, but 98% of my students will be Emirate. I liked this site and it was cheaper than a couple of others. The You Tube classes are great! Learn to Write in Arabic

However, the focus of my post today is really the Mondly site. I did a few searches and checked out a couple. It was the easiest and carried the content well when I am offline at home (out here on the island – no cell service). It also had Arabic which not all of them have as many choices at Mondly does. Babbel for instance did not have Arabic. Rosetta Stone is super expensive.



Week 8 or 9: March 18, Grammerly.com

I decided to check out Grammerly.com this week because of its uses in an English class. To be honest, I consider it cheating. However, it is right up my line of work. Here is the beginning:

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The free version offers to help with basic grammar. It also adds an extension to your toolbar:

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Interestingly, grammerly immediately starts editing all of your writing – for instance it added a red line under the word grammerly in this sentence because I did not capitalize it – as an example. If the mouse is hovered over the word, the correction or ignore suggestions are offered.

I downloaded one of my student’s papers that I had already graded and knew all the grammar issues. Grammerly.com made four suggestions for free. I had found probably 30 total mistakes. Grammerly then offered to let me upgrade to find the rest:

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The cost is pretty expensive – an annual membership costs $11.99 for a 12 month commitment. If someone wanted to just join briefly to fix one paper, it would cost $29.95.  As an English teacher then, I am feeling quite reassured that my job is safe. Grammerly.com is not going to replace me! Considering Word will do about the same amount of corrections without adding an extension, having to sign up for emails, or being solicited for memberships – I think typing one’s paper on Word and submitting or then moving it to Google Docs to share is probably less hassle. As a teacher, I believe learning the basics of grammar the old fashioned way is a much better alternative.

Week 7 – Deekit.com

Deekit.com is similar to a Google Doc in that it is shared and multiple people can work on it.

At its simplest – it works like a white board:

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So you could keep lists of things you want to do – oh and this does have an app to use on your phone.

The opening page which explains all of the uses, sells the product as a way for business people to interface or have meetings from long distances. It is marketed to teachers and students as well.

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To me then it becomes which product has the type of symbols that fit your style. My impression of Google accessories is that they are always the most basic – but very easy to use and compatible with just about everything. However, if you wanted more specific work done – for instance if you were teaching a graphic art class in high school – this obviously goes further than a Google Doc.

The basic version is free – if you want more stuff, it costs.

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This also reminded me of Padlet in a way – as far as different people contributing to one large board. I am working on trying to find the easiest way for my students to copy and paste citations and their url’s while doing research. I like this – however, again, I don’t really want my students pulling out their phones while working on research papers because they will start texting. Since this is also available on the computer – it makes it one such solution for students.

Week 6 Feb 25, 2018 Padlet

So I decided to try out Padlet with my classes because it looked so cool. I set up a Padlet – one for each class. They are both located on my “dashboard.” So the setting up was pretty easy. I have two:

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My 10th grade class did really well. My prompt was to pose a question about the play Antigone.

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We had a class discussion about asking “inquiry based” questions that add to everyone’s learning experience. They were excited and interested for the most part. I did help some of the students with questions and answers. Some of the students looked up answers, looked up Sophocles, and looked up pictures on Pinterest.

The 11th grade, on the other hand, are working on a unit on American Poets. For the most part they are not really into poetry, but I insist it is worthwhile. So when I opened up the Padlet, I was hoping for the same sort of reaction as the 10th grade class. Instead, I immediately lost a couple of kids who grabbed the chance to go surfing wherever they went. Here is what their input looked like:

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I should note my two top performing students were out of town on a school activity. One of the biggest problems as a high school teacher trying to include technology in the classroom is keeping students on task.

In any case, Padlet is really quite easy to use. I didn’t get frustrated, and it didn’t take very long to set it up. Each new Padlet gives you the option to use three search words. So I attached the word Savoonga to both of mine so the kids could easily find them. I also invited each student to participate. One of the classes – the tenth grade class, I gave them a password and the ability to write. However, it seems as if the ability to vote on or rate another student’s entry is not available under the “write” level, so I allowed the 11th graders to become moderators. We ran out of time and didn’t try out the rating section. I think if I can come up with a moderating application to keep students from surfing while we are working that I would enjoy this more.