5 Fun Apps to Improve Language Skills: Learn Outside the Box

What does it mean to learn outside the box? Well, it could be interpreted in different ways: learning in ways different than the “norm,” creatively, or outside of our comfort zone. It could be getting outside our home, or even countries. I do mean it in these ways, but most importantly I mean to get outside the classroom. There are opportunities to learn everywhere, with everything around us. Go ahead and try, look around you. Is there something you can learn from your surroundings? New vocabulary words? Uses of something? History or where an item came from? How many items can you find around you that could actually benefit your learning experience?

Your smartphone, tablet, computer, or any other “smart” device around you has endless opportunities for learning. I’m sure you know of some, and today you’ll hopefully learn about a few more fun, interactive apps on your phones and tablets that will not only provide you with some amazing entertainment, but actually build vocabulary and English fluency! Tired of translating from your language all the time? These types of activities, because of time restrictions, will actually force you to think in English because there’s no time for translating! These apps would also be good for young, native learners, and anyone who loves a good word game.

Because these are all word games, I encourage you to create a vocabulary notebook of new words. If you don’t know a word, write it down to look up the definition later, skip it, and keep the fun going!

Here’s the list, in no particular order of favorites… (well, okay. Number one is actually my favorite!)

1. Unspeakable: Group Party Word Game Like Taboo

The title says it, ‘Taboo’. If anyone has ever played this incredibly hilarious word game, then you know just how much fun it can be. The challenge: Get your team to guess the ‘secret’ word on the card without saying any of the words listed, and within the given time. How can this help language skills? Simple, expanding vocabulary skills by identifying synonyms and increasing your ability to describe the word in different ways. (Just say NO to translators. 🙂 ) With the short time given, there is no time for translating in your head.

I’ve personally used this idea, recreated into “Vocaboo,” for my students as a weekly vocabulary review activity and it’s something previous students still talk about.

Unspeakable - Group Party Word Game Like Taboo ™

2. Charades!

Very similar to Unspeakable, but with extra activities.  This multi-activity game includes speaking,  acting, and singing in order for your team/partner to guess the word on the card in front of you. There are many themes to choose from, including: TV shows & movies, animals, music, Disney characters, etc.. How can this help language skills? In the same way as Unspeakable, but with some more action. Other game players who are practicing must now interpret body movements and gestures, adding in a new side of language learning.

Charades! Guess Words and Draw or Doodle Something Taboo Tilt Your Heads Jump Up with Friends Free
3. Catch Words (free)
This game is a mix of Unspeakable, Hot Potato, and the popular board game ‘Catch Phrase.’ As a word game, it has the same concept of the previous two apps, but this one is played quite differently. Teams sit in a circle, but you must not be sitting next to your team mate, it alternates. For example: A,B,A,B,A,B..etc. You must get your team to guess the word you have in front of you, but because you’re sitting down and with the phone/tablet in your hand, body language and gestures are limited. Each time your team guesses the word, you pass to the person next to you, who is on a different team, and you keep passing until the timer runs out. The team with the most points, wins. Categories include phrases, and slightly more complex themes, so this app would be the hardest of all. How can this help language skills? More language development, synonym recognition, and practice explaining yourself with descriptive language/details.
Catch Words FREE

4. Teledoodle

 Taken from the amusing game, ‘Telestrations,’ this word game combines words and pictures, and can take very interesting turns. The idea is that each player starts with a word that they must draw. When they finish their picture, they pass it to the next player who must look at the drawing, and identify the word. They write the word, pass it to the next player, they draw, etc..  How can this help language skills? New vocabulary words might appear, and you’ll have to activate a different section of your brain to explain these ones. Bringing in the visual element will require different skills of word recognition, and hey, you get to practice your art skills! Because you have to write the word, spelling and penmanship can be improved with this activity as well.
Teledoodle - The Hilarious Heads Up Party Drawing Game
5. Words with Friends
  This is a classic game, and a technological version of an old favorite, ‘Scrabble’. Playing with a partner, you will start with 7 letters (each with different point values) and must use the squares on the board to create words, going vertically (up & down) or horizontally (sideways). Similar to a crossword, players must use the existing words on the board to build new words. Play carefully, because you’ll want to try and use the extra bonuses on the board like the triple word or letter titles. Play until all titles are gone! How can this help language skills? Increasing vocabulary by seeing new words your player makes, and building your vocabulary and spelling skills by creating new word possibilities. Being able to move your tiles around on your board can help visual learners ‘see’ new words.
*Make sure you find me: JenESL760*
Words With Friends Free
There you have it everyone. Sunday’s suggestions for improving your language skills. Just in time for Monday and the start of a beautiful new week. Happy learning!
*Please share if you find this useful for you, or know someone who could benefit from these fun applications. Remember it can be used for English language learners as a second language, young native learners, or anyone looking to brush up their word skills.*



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