My tefl Blog

8 great apps for TEFL and travel

It’s the 21st century folks, and that means apps have shouldered their way into…well, everything. From shopping lists to maps, travel guides to fitness assistants, it now seems there’s a nifty little program out there to help us out with all aspects of day-to-day life. Teaching’s no different, with a whole host of tools now on offer to aid things from vocabulary learning in the classroom to navigating that new destination. Cue myTEFL’s own curated list of the top apps for TEFL and travel…


Apps for TEFL
Students | © University of the Fraser Valley/Flickr




Beady eyes have been watching the rise of FluentU for some years now. An innovative platform that scours the internet for interesting little snippets and videos, from YouTube, Vimeo and a whole range of other third-party sources, the tool then converts the lot into annotated clips with subtitles and highlighted target language. Students will be able to read what they hear in real time, tap on individual words to get their meanings, and even do extra quizzes on the vocabulary contained in each clip. It’s simply perfect for supplementing classroom sessions, and fuses AV media with EFL in an interesting and unique way. It’s totally one to watch.


Google Translate…obviously


Google Translate has long been the go-to word convertor; the crème de la crème for all apps for TEFL and travel that ensures you’ll never misunderstand a sentence when it’s most important. All you need to do is type in the language you’re trying to decipher and Google does the rest. The tool’s not so great for longer pieces of text and should never be used in classrooms (immersion is the holy grail remember!), but it will make sure you don’t go ordering that grilled guinea pig instead of the chicken skewers, or saying there’s eels in your hovercraft. You get the drift…


apps for TEFL
Hoi An roads | © Chris Hoare/Flickr


Google Maps…even more obviously


Don’t even think about heading abroad without this handy tool in your pocket. Whether your destination is the winding lanes of Thailand’s old Chiang Mai or the cobbled streets of Vietnamese Hoi An, the labyrinthine hill villages of Tuscany or the forest-shrouded cities of South America, you’re bound to get lost once or twice. As far as apps for TEFL go, it’s not going to help you nail that target language any easier, or unravel the deep secrets of grammar. It might just get you to class on time though – you know, without any accidental detours via a Buddhist temple or snake-infested Asian jungle.  




Duolingo’s super-user-friendly interface has been working to make personal language learning fun and accessible in the last couple of years. It’s boomed to become one of the most-downloaded apps for TEFL in the industry; used by thousands of would-be English speakers to supplement classroom lessons. Combining the XP-generating aims of a computer game with image-led vocab and grammar quizzes, it’s great for reinforcing target language and bolstering that word bank.


Words With Friends


Everyone loves a good ol’ game of Scrabble, right? Well, with Words With Friends, that age-old classic has been digitized and streamlined. Encourage your students to download it to their smartphones and start playing. Before long, you’ll be eliciting vocab from them without even having to be in the classroom. You could even set up tournaments and prizes, so that the highest scoring learner wins something at the end of term. You’d be surprised how just a little bit of competitiveness drives that determination into overdrive!


Apps for TEFL
Airbnb | © Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine/Flickr




While most TEFL teachers will find long-term accommodation in their adopted city, others – especially those on short-term contracts and summer camp stays – will need to get something a little more casual. That’s where AirBnB comes in, offering to connect travelers with local people renting out a room or a whole apartment for days, weeks or months. Because it’s focused on globetrotters and digital nomads working on the road, you’ll usually get comfy spaces with WiFi and desks – just what you need to plan those lessons and mark those exams.


XE Currency


Another of the foremost challenges of moving to a new country is keeping abreast of the exchange rate. At home, where you’re used to calculating the damage on the wallet in terms of dollars or pounds, it was easy to see how much you were spending day-to-day. Here, in Bangkok’s steamy markets or Brazil’s throbbing beachside bars, it’s a little trickier. Apps for TEFL and travel can help, like XE currency, which offers up-to-date rates on all the different types of dosh around the globe.


apps for TEFL
Smartphone teen | © Pabak Sarkar/Flickr


Head’s Up!


Head’s Up! isn’t just great for using as a lead-in activity in the classroom, it’s also perfect for breaking the ice with your new colleagues over a beer or two! Essentially a digital version of Articulate, the game asks players to describe words for another to guess. With categories on animals, films, actors, world destinations, landmarks and more, it’s a fine choice for homing in on one area of vocabulary, forcing students to use related lingo, rhyming and other unusual techniques.



If you’re a veteran teacher with more apps for TEFL in mind, we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below. Or, if you think it’s time you got qualified and hit the classroom abroad, be sure to check out myTEFL’s offering of courses.



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