Useful iPad/iPodTouch apps for Modern Languages

September 14, 2010

After trialling the new iPads during our French Summer School I have found a number of excellent apps for use in the MFL classroom. Many of these can also be used on an iPodTouch (marked with an *), which makes it more affordable for a school to use. I’m not going to mention specific language apps here (apart from the dictionary) as I was more interested in the apps for creating work in the MFL classroom. Isabelle Jones has written some excellent blog posts on language specific ones here.

* I use the Collins French Dictionary (also available in German and Spanish) which at £5.99 is the most expensive app. This has just enough detail, i.e. some idiomatic phrases, whilst still being simple enough for younger students to use. I like the Fuzzy option, that means you don’t need to spell the word correctly for it to find it.

(The £14.99 Pro versions are excellent for A-level students and beyond).

* Doodle Buddy is a free drawing app and can be used to make the iPad into an expensive mini-whiteboard. Great for individuals or groups to show their answers, and for pairwork. For example one students draws a person, then describes them to their partner (e.g. He has blue eyes and green hair). The partner draws what they hear, and then they compare the result. It also has a noughts and crosses grid, ideal for bingo!

* Fotopedia Heritage is free and contains 20,000 high-quality photos of all the UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can search via the World map and star favourites. You can use it to look at images of countries where the language is spoken and talk about the culture and landscape. See also the Fotopedia Colors app, which has beautiful images of people from around the world.

Moodboard Lite (free) is aimed at artists, photographers and designers to help them organise their ideas, but is ideal for creating posters too. You can connect to the internet through the app, then find and crop images to add to the Moodboard. Text can be added and edited, to label images. I used this for a poster on colours as you can add ready-made colour palettes. The free version can only include 7 images, but we found it enough for our purposes.

iCardSort (free) is a brainstorming tool, where you can add text to any number of cards which can then be moved around the screen. This can be used for sorting vocabulary (e.g. masculine, feminine, neuter nouns), or creating sentences. Unfortunately you can’t change colours, background or fonts, but I like the simplicity of the app.

Infinote Pinboard for Todos and Notes Free can be used in a similar way. This is for brainstorming and creating To Do notes, and there are more options to change the colour of notes, text and add icons. This could be used for revision purposes, or colour coding types of words (make all adjectives green, nouns blue etc).

* Make a Martian (free) simply allows you to create a Martian, using a number of different body shapes, colours, arms, wings, eyes, legs etc. Once you have created a Martian you can take a screen shot of it (press Home and Power button together), and use it in another app, for example Moodboard or Strip Design. Great for work on colours and parts of the body, and a simple way to create characters for conversation work.

* Strip Designer (£1.79) is well worth the money. It is really simple to use and students can create nice-looking comic strips using images from the iPad’s My Photos. Perfect for conversation work, displays etc.

* Idea Sketch (free) is a mind-mapping app. There are a number of these available, but I liked this one as it is simple and uncluttered. You can change the colour and shape of the text boxes, add notes and view it as a list. Great for vocabulary revision.

i-Prompt Pro (free) turns the iPad into a teleprompter. Use when students are recording audio or video from a script. Type in the script and set how slow you want the text to move. It’s a little fiddly to set up, but works really well.

Voice Recorder for iPad (£0.59) allows you to create high quality recordings using the inbuilt microphone on the iPad. I chose this one simply because I had read a good review of it, and it seems easy to use. Unfortunately I’ve not found a way to use the audio in other apps, or download it off the iPad, but still a useful app to record practice conversations.

Extended list:

Here are some more apps that would be useful for creating multimedia work in MFL.

 *Splice (Free version has ads) – this is a video editor, but can also be used to put together slide shows with text and narration, ideal for presenting new vocabulary, or longer pieces of spoken work.




Book Creator (£2.99) – you can create ebooks and include images, videos, text and audio. Perfect for more creative use of language, and a simple way of combining all four skills of reading, speaking, listening and writing.


*Puppet Pals (free, upgrade for more characters and sets) – This is a lovely app for creating animations using the included characters and backgrounds and recording a narration as you move them. Ideal for making role plays more exciting. See also Sock Puppets and Toontastic.


This is just a small selection, and I’ll add to the list as I find more. Please add any suggestions for other apps in the comments.

Weston Park Interactive Trails – Feedback

October 15, 2008
Museums Sheffield

Museums Sheffield

As you may be aware from previous posts, the museum at Weston Park has a number of Ultra Mobile PCs (UMPCs) – essentially computers you can carry around with you, and two interactive trails to accompany the exhibits. The two trails are Ancient Egypt and Animal Adaptation and are aimed at year 6 pupils. This summer the UMPCs have been available for family groups to use during their visit.

The feedback from the primary school and family sessions has been excellent:

“Great way of getting children to interact with the artefacts.”

“Kept them on task and directed their activity, at the same time allowing them to work at their own pace and in any order.”

“Recording answers verbally instead of writing them was much better for the SEN group. Higher achievers could use the audio facility to add expression and be creative, such as making it like a news report.”

If you are interested in taking part in one of the Trails with your class, see the previous post here for details, or contact Pauline Sharkey on 0114 278 2655,

Science Trail

Science Trail

Weather Enquiry at Meadowhead

July 7, 2008

Year 7 geography students at Meadowhead School investigated the best place to put a new bench in the school grounds using Glofiish M700 Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs). They used WildData software to log information at each site, such as temperature, wind direction and aspect, as well as taking photos of the sites. This was collated and transferred into Excel for analysis in the classroom.

The majority of the students enjoyed the experience, with all of them keen to do a future project using the PDAs. Generally they found it better than using pen and paper, “because it’s more active”, although some were nervous about dropping the equipment. There were some technical difficulties, with the screen being hard to read in the sunlight, and a couple of PDAs froze, but the pupils managed to complete all the tasks well. Matt Podbury, teacher of Geography at Meadowhead, enjoyed the experience, adding that “the students were very responsive.”

Weston Park Interactive Primary Trails

May 20, 2008

Museums Sheffield Logo

There are now two possible trails that can be completed by primary classes at Weston Park using Ultra Mobile Computers (UMPCs). There is the History Trail, looking at the museum’s collection of Ancient Egyptian artefacts, and a Science Trail, which investigates animal adaptation. The trails are aimed at year 6 pupils, with students working in small groups to complete interactive exercises and record their findings.

There will be an INSET afternoon at the museum on the 24th June (12.45-16.00) for year 6 teachers. The session is free and supply cover will be paid for. The INSET will provide teachers with an opportunity to follow the animal adaptation trail, learn how to use the UMPCs and provide feedback on the trail.

Science Trail

From September 2008, Museums Sheffield will only offer the UMPC sessions as part of a full day package (the other half of the day will be a led workshop about the same curriculum area) for which there will be a charge. As an attendee of the INSET day, you will be able to book your class onto the full day package free of charge in the next school year. Alternatively, you may bring your class for the free half-day session this summer term.

  • To find out more about the UMPC sessions or to book a place on the INSET afternoon, please contact:

Jacqueline O’Neil, E-Learning Co-ordinator
0114 2782653

  • To book a half-day session for your class to attend this summer term, please contact:

Pauline Sharkey, Learning Bookings Administrator, 0114 2782655

The UMPC project has been supported by the South Yorkshire e-Learning Programme and Sheffield South CLC, and funded by the European Union Social Fund.

ESF logo

Science revision for SATs using PDAs

May 6, 2008

Looking at food groups with the PDA.Fifty-one year 6 pupils from Sir Harold Jackson Primary School took part in a project to revise what they have learnt in science lessons using Glofiish M700 PDAs (personal digital assistants – i.e. small, handheld computers) last week. They worked in small groups, following a trail around the school, with experiments and questions on their surroundings at 6 stations. For example they answered questions on the life cycle of the frog at the pond, and grappled with forces in the adventure playground.

Despite the showery weather, all of the pupils reported that they enjoyed it. One pupil said she enjoyed it “because you could get involved and experiment with the items.” Another said “it is good to be outside for learning and it’s a really fun idea.”

The year 6 teachers were all agreed that it was good revision and the pupils were engaged throughout.

If you are interested in undertaking in a similar project, contact Catherine at the CLC (0114 2587728).

Ancient Egypt Trail

October 4, 2007


SSCLC have been working with the South Yorkshire e-Learning Programme (SYeLP) to create an Ancient Egypt Trail at Weston Park Museum using ultra-mobile computers (UMPCs). The computers are smaller than a laptop, and are ideal for carrying around the museum to complete the work. SYeLP created some interactive content to go on the computers, including images of exhibits, videos of the curator, and interactive quizzes and games to help the pupils learn. Pupils recorded their voices to answer questions about what they learnt.

Three ShabtisA class of year 6 pupils trialled the Trail last term, and they really enjoyed using the computers. Their teacher said “Giving the children a chance to record their voices really focussed them on what they were trying to say.”

A number of primary teachers will be attending a training session on using the Trail on the 22nd October at the museum.

Photo by Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust