Love your feedback – The iPad for English Language Learners

The following is some text that I have been working with surrounding the possible use of the iPad in for English Language Learners.  I would love anyone’s feedback and input on this topic.  While the language is brief it is geared toward a potential grant opportunity.


Language acquisition (regardless of first or second language) is an intimate process and unfortunately the majority of technology is not always intimate. However, the form factor of a device that an individual holds in his or her hands, like the iPad, makes learning with this device very intimate.  Learning will be a tactile, tangible interaction because an ELL student will be touching the actual information  as opposed to a keyboard or other input method.  Additionally, from a classroom environment standpoint, the immediacy of information in a non-threatening, non-disruptive manner is key in comprehension for ELL students.  The iPad’s form factor, being a single slate design, does not create a physical barrier between the teacher and the ELL student and thus provides a more open learning environment.  Another positive feature is the iPad’s operating system which allows only a single application can be open at a time minimizing possible distractions.

The overriding objective in providing the iPad, as opposed to a different computing platform, is to provide ELL students with current technology that will allow them to access thousands of learning applications. This access will positively impact their English language acquisition in ways that would not be afforded to them on conventional computing devices.  For example, with the opening of the iBookstore by Apple, over 30,000 free books and novels will be available to the iPad via Project Gutenberg. The unique ability of the iPad is that it allows students and instructors to the newest and most advanced applications that are being developed every day.  Beyond the multitude of iPad exclusive opportunities, students will also be able to leverage the iPad to enhance their learning with the iPad’s ability to access a standard suite of learning tools such as: translation applications, PLATO instructional software for English, reading and mathematics, internet for research purposes, words processing and presentation software, and to obtain the necessary 21st Century skills needed to be successful inside and outside of the traditional educational settings. Being that the iPad is a fully immersive technology, it will ultimately help ELL students to have a piece of technology which will allow them to interact without language barriers and become more competitive in an advancing digital world.

[note: This post was intentionally double posted to test both Ecto and MarsEdit3 for differences – MarsEdit3]


19 thoughts on “Love your feedback – The iPad for English Language Learners

  1. Thanks for the information on how iPADS offer several opportunities for ELLs. We are currently requesting ESL funds for several iPads to be used for the next school year. Do you currently know of any apps specifically for ELLs?

    • I will have an app for the iPad/iPod that shows a stick figure and the word or words and the sound in English. First picture is a male stick figure pointing to himself and the word “I” and by touching the word one will hear the spoken “I”

      The free item will be the first 40 figures. There will be about 600 words.

      Does that sound interesting?

  2. Nora, there are a number, but I have a question about age and level before I can be more specific. Also, I am part of a group that Scott Meech founded called i Education Apps Review that focuses on reviewing educational apps for these and other "i" devices. 
    Comment back on the age and level of your ELL group and I will try to post more specific apps for you to think about. Also, I would love to hear if you get the iPad's and how you plan on implementing/using. 
    Sent from my iPhone

    • Scott,

      I am the coordinator for English Language Learners services at my school district. I think the i pad has huge potential in helping children with limited English to not only incorperate more English vocabulary into their learning everyday but also to share their culture and language with their peers and teachers. It would be very benificial if Microsoft or someone could develop an extensive list of what apps could provide these learning opportunities and at what developmental level they would be appropriate. If something like this has been done, great! Where can I find it??

      Just a thought!

      • Barbara, thanks for the comment. Sorry it took me so long to respond here, I have to look into my auto forwarding of comment notifications, I missed yours somehow. Check out (i Education Apps Review) I am part of a group of educators and developers building the type of resource that you are interested in seeing.


  3. I work with ELL students grades k-12. When I first saw the iPad before it’s release I was amazed at the possibilities it could present in an ELL classroom. I would love to participate in any type of GRANT options available to get non english speaking students exposed to the possibility of learning with an iPad.

  4. @Michele, I agree. I am still waiting to purchase one, not from lack of desire, but more from a finances standpoint, but with the recent change that Apple has made to the iWork suite being able to download and upload straight to MobileMe, I can see huge potential for students and faculty taking content with them, leveraging those online resources for translation then creating and saving back to a file share for classes… very cool.
    @rociog Me too. I am looking into grant funding to purchase some for my ELL students for an immersion project … I’ll post if I can get this going.

  5. I just began using a MAC Book Pro. Just unbelievably user friendly. If the iPad is anything like MAC Book Pro it is an unbelievable too!!!. The iPad is “The Big Information Tablet” that, if one could afford, should get. Just imagine everyone in the world having an iPad.
    What Magic! What a phenomena! I just wish I had one!!!!!!!

  6. Beverly, I just got my MBP back in December, and have been loving it ever since. I look forward to getting an iPad eventually. I strongly believe that I could replace almost all of what I use my MBP for with the iPad.

  7. Hi there,

    I am a middle school EFL teacher and have been given twenty iPads to use with my classes – I also teach geography in English. How far on are you with your research into how they could be used effectively with ELL? I have little tech support and I find it really hardgoing trying to get them off the ground – so far I am using them pricipally for audiobooks and internet research, but I’d love to use them with Apps, but which ones? How do I pay for them – 20 x an average app price makes them very expensive indeed, so they have to be well chosen.
    I’d be very grateful for any concrete advice you might have,
    Yours, Jo Monney (Ms)

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