Thursday, October 03, 2013

iPad Apps for English

The iPad is making plenty of waves in education, and certainly for teachers, for whom its portability and handiness for display is just right. So here are some recommended apps for English teachers (and pupils). And plenty will suit teachers of other subjects too, of course. Many are free, few cost much.

Join in the comments section if you'd like to recommend others...


  • Notability: top class app for taking notes (including audio) and using for class demonstration and annotation of texts.
  • Simplenote: excellent simple note app which syncs with apps for other operating systems (the Mac app has just been released - needs Mountain Lion). Searchable, with tags.
  • Notesy: another simple and elegant note-taking app (backup through Dropbox).
  • Paper: beautiful drawing app for displaying your own notes to class (in-app purchases for more tools).
  • WorkFlowy : excellent versatile outlining tool, with perfect syncing on other devices - our review here.


  • SugarSync: similar to Dropbox, but in some areas even better - bring all your notes and English documents to class with you.
  • Numbers: there are lots of grading and specialist teaching apps out there, but this standard Apple spreadsheet app does the job well. So ditch the paper markbook and make sure you backup via iCloud.
  • Quickoffice: now free from Google, with Google Drive integration. Allows you to work easily on Microsoft Office files 
  • Attendance: well designed and easy to use app for taking attendance records - our quick review here.
  • Edmodo: Facebook-like app for connecting with classes, accepting essay submissions, storing class documents and more, all within a safe private environment. And you can connect with other teachers around the world too.
  • Good Reader: possibly the best app for reading and annotating PDFs. Well worth the modest cost.
  • Phoster: creates attractive posters for noticeboards easily.


  • ShowMe: excellent demonstration app - check out our own video/audio annotations of texts such as The Great Gatsby, Pride and Prejudice, Hamlet and Macbeth here.
  • MarkUp: from the people behind ShowMe comes this simple and very handy marking app. Take in pupils' work via email, mark it, send it back.
  • Haiku Deck: classy and dramatic presentations.
  • TED: there's a wealth of material on TED for classroom discussion, such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'The Danger of a Single Story'.
  • Story Cubes: great app for prompting ideas about story-telling and narrative structure. See our review here.

The Usual Suspects
Everyone recommends these, and everyone's right

  • Dropbox : still the best way to save and share your files across all devices. Our own Department 'filing cabinet' now exists in Dropbox, with a shared folder of administrative documents and teaching materials.
  • Google Drive : the best medium for collaboration between pupils and between staff. And more besides.
  • Evernote : some swear by it, some don't really get going. At its best, a great place to store notes, pictures, projects and more.
  • Skype : connections with educators and classes all over the world - see Skype Education
  • Twitter: essential Personal Learning Network, with resources and support from all over the world. See #engchat for English teaching matters.  We recommend Tweetbot for using Twitter.


  • Instapaper: English teachers and pupils are (should be) 'text maniacs'. Instapaper is a terrific service that saves long articles from the web, strips out the 'gunge' and allows you to sit back and read them on your iPad at the end of the day. Pocket does the same job.
  • Kindle: the original and the best. Plenty of annotation and note-taking opportunities, and you don't need a Kindle for reading.
  • Zite: excellently designed aggregator for browsing items of interest.


  • The Waste Land: more 'expensive' than most apps, but worth it - a stunning teaching and learning resource on Eliot's complex poem.
  • The Sonnets: all Shakespeare's sonnets beautifully presented in text, audio and video, with plenty of notes. See our review here.
  • Cambridge Shakespeare: excellent resource for Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Twelfth Night.

(see a related and sometimes overlapping series on iOS apps here).

1 comment:

Rose said...

As an English teacher myself I find that my students are very attracted by an app named Timbuktu Magazine. It's a monthly magazine on iPad featuring current events, word and math games, art projects, science experiments... It helps them develop their vocabulary in several areas and it's fun! They have a one week free trial if you want to take a look