With the start of the Japanese school year upon us, teachers everywhere are revamping their lesson plans while thinking of ways to make their classes as engaging as possible. Students nowadays feel the pulse of technology more keenly than ever before, and what better way to pique their interest than with educational apps. Here are three that will grab their attention and nurture their passion for learning.
• Cost: Free with in-app purchases
• What it Does: A simple multi-player game with small groups or whole classrooms in mind, HeadsUP! is a guessing game that starts when the user picks a category and then puts their smartphone or tablet to their forehead, not allowing them to see their word. Other participants must describe this word by shouting clues until the person guesses it. With one-minute rounds, the goal is to get through as many words as possible before it is the next student’s turn.
• Why it’s great for the classroom: The big plus is its entertainment value. Students will absorb their knowledge through genuine fun. Most card sets in the game can be difficult for non-native speakers, but you can create decks based on personal curriculum via an inapp purchase. Consider also using the “Just for Kids” set to get your classroom full of students eagerly talking.
• Developer: Warner Bros
• Platform: Android and iOS
• Website: ellentv.com/page/2013/04/23/heads-up
FluentU – Learn a Language with Videos
Free with inapp purchases
• What it Does: A great way to learn a foreign language is by watching commercials, cartoons, and even TV shows. By doing their best to match the subtitles to spoken word in each video, students gain invaluable listening and language-processing skills. FluentU makes use of this approach using real videos viewed by people in English-speaking countries. The app transforms each video into English-lesson material by adding subtitles in both English and Japanese.
• Why it’s great for the classroom: As opposed to most apps featuring English lessons, FluentU goes one step further. It not only encourages a natural learning of the English language, but at the same time, it makes a foray into the culture and traditions of English-speaking countries. What’s more, the app can be used to watch videos in Japanese with accompanying English translation so it can really help students improve their translation skills.
• Developer: FluentU
• Platform: iOS
• Website: fluentu.com
Futaba Classroom Games for Kids
• Cost: ¥840
• What it Does: Futaba is an incredibly fun, iPad-only, matching game that can engage up to four children at a time. Students are given a choice of four answers, only one of which can be matched to a picture or description spinning on screen. The first student to pick the right word is given one point. The winner of three rounds is crowned champion.
• Why it’s great for the classroom: Futaba is more than a simple matching game. It’s a great vocab-reviewing app provides an avenue for discovering new words through a trial-and-error system. It supports language acquisition and plays on students’ innate desire to be competitive by allowing them to play against their classmates and strive to become the champ. The best part is that teachers can create their own content using pictures or text. A win/win for everyone!
• Developer: INKids Education LLC
• Platform: iOS
• Website: inkidseducation.com