Sylvia Duckworth French Apps For Homework

A collaborative blogpost by 
Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) and Steve Lai (@sly111)

When friend, fellow French AIM teacher and Canadian iPad guru Steve Lai contacted me on Twitter last week with an idea to collaborate on a blogpost, I was excited to jump on board.

A few months ago my school purchased 10 iPads and when I was asked which apps I wanted for my Core French Classes (grades 3 - 5), I started my research.

One of my first go-to resources was Steve’s excellent blog: I immediately went to a blog post called “How Can I Use My iPad For Teaching? Practical Ways to Get Started” for loads of advice.

When it came to finding apps specific to the Core French Class however, I quickly felt lost in the iTunes store: where to begin choosing from amongst the gazillion apps? It was quite overwhelming so I started a blog to review French apps: FrenchAppsForKids.

In February, 2014, I invited U.K. Foreign Language iPad expert Joe Dale be the guest instructor at a workshop for French teachers in Toronto. His session was fast-paced and informative and gave me many other great ideas to use with my students.

Below is the “Must-have” list of apps for the Foreign Language Class that Steve and I were able to whittle down. The list is quite extensive, so if you are on a tight budget for the paid-for apps, we have put an *asterisk next to the essential ones. Here they are:

1) Content-consumption apps

Classroom Management

Class Dojo Free (Click

for the web version)

Decide Now $.99

Random Name Selector (Free)
Team Shake $.99 (Great for picking teams/groups)

French apps for elementary students (K - 6)

(NOTE: Many of these apps have options in other languages that are included in the same app.)

Touch, look, listen $1.99

StoryToys apps $4.99/ea (all excellent)

*Gus learns French $3.99

French words for Kids (Montessori) $3.99

Feed me (French) $1.99

JeuxPourLire $3.99

eFlash Apps for French $1.99 (turn on “Questions” mode in settings to make more challenging)

Canadian French $9.99
Fun French$8.99 for full version

General vocabulary

*Qui est-ce? Free ($1.99 full version)

4 images, 1 mot Free ($1.99 for ad-free version, recommended)

L'il Red $.99 (Wordless book, great for promoting dialogue)

Translation apps

Google Translate app Free

WordReference Free

TextGrabber Translate (Good for travelling to read signs, menus, etc.) $5.99

Verb conjugation
Learnbots Free ($3.99 full version)

General grammar

Le la Free (Great way to find gender of a noun very quickly)

2) Content-creation apps

Digital stories


*Sock Puppets $3.99Read Steve’s:How to Create Videos with Sock Puppets  

*Puppet Pals 2 Free ($4.99 All access)

Puppet Pals HD Free ($2.99 Director's Pass)

Tellagami Free

YAKiT kids Free
Haiku Deck Free Click here for example.


Songify $2.99

Videostar Free

GarageBand $4.99 (complete version, free for new devices)


*iMovie $4.99 (free for new devices)(Read Steve’s:The New and Improved iMovie 2.0)

Stop Motion Studio App (Free)

DoInk for Green Screening $2.99

Titan Player Free (to download YouTube videos to camera roll.)

Action Movie FX Free but need to buy additional effects.

Backwards Cam $1.99

SloPro $3.99 (Read Steve’sreview)


ToonCamera $1.99

Over $1.99

iPhoto $4.99 (free for new devices)

Pic Collage(Free)

Voice recorder

Voice Record Pro Free


Google Search(Free)

Quiz generator

Socrative (Free)


Kahoot! Is also great. Read my blogpost here. (No app but can save on iOS homescreen)

Best QR code reader:


To share projects:

Airdrop Free (available on new iPads) (Read Steve’s: How to use AirDrop)

Instashare (to transfer iPad projects to computer.) Free for iPad, $3.99 for computer (Click here) Note: need both downloads to use this app.

Dropbox Free (Read Steve’s: Dropbox for Dummies)

DropItToMe Free

Google Drive Free(Apps like Book Creator will upload as .epub file. Can read on computer withReadium - a Chrome App)

SUPER COOL feature on iPad (Thanks, Joe Dale!)

Text speech:

Settings > General > Accessibility > Speak Selection (turn on)

- Go to web page in French, highlight, then click on “Speak”.



There is such a wealth of educational apps out there. We hope this list can narrow down some of your favourites. The iPad, if used to its full capabilities, is a fantastic teaching tool. With more knowledge/awareness of creation-type apps, we hope that you can create diverse, exciting and original projects with your class! Whether you are lucky enough to have a 1:1 iPad program, or if you just have one iPad, the possibilities are endless.


Over the past few months, the iPad has become an indispensable tool in my class. French vocabulary apps are a great way for students to spend some extra time at the end of class to build and practice their vocabulary. The creation apps allow the students to practice their French in authentic ways and to showcase their language skills. The camera allows students to personalize their projects and to make videos and trailers. The iPad is particularly conducive to partner/group collaborative work as the students play vocabulary games and create projects together. Finally, the boot-up ease of the iPad saves valuable class time compared to laptops.

Is the iPad a fad? NON! Is it an essential tool in the Foreign Language Class? BIEN SÛR, MON AMI!

Do you have any favourite apps that you would like to share with us? Please let us know in the comments!

About the Authors:

Steve is a French teacher in Richmond, BC, Canada. He teaches French to Grade 1 through Grade 5. He is an avid educational tech teacher, who is always looking to learn more. He has given various iPad workshops in BC, and uses his iPad every day in his FSL class. He enjoys blogging at Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

Sylvia is an award-winning teacher who has been teaching Core French for 30 years in Toronto, Canada. She provides workshops on Technology in the FSL class and can be reached on Twitter and on Google + . You can find her resources at

So, your 5 or 6 or 7 year old is heading to (or will be heading to) French immersion for the first time and you want to help them at home? Where to start? Here are a few ideas.

1. Learn some french songs

I'm going to suggest that you don't even have to translate them or tell your child, "Okay, now we're going to sing a song in French", just do it. When I have your child in class for the first time I sing everything, we sing a song to come to the carpet, to line up, to call out our class puppet, to clean up the toys. Initially the children just listen, enjoy the tune, and with some prompting and actions start to do what I do. With time they begin to understand some key words and may ask what the rest means. You can even start with some familiar English tunes using French words. 

You are my sunshine

Happy Birthday (no birthdays coming up, hey it's your webkinz/pet fish/plant's birthday)
Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes

My playlist of songs for grade 1 on YouTube.
Here is one of the more popular playlists by Comptines, lyrics are highlighted as they are sung.

2. Colours, shapes, body parts, animals.

This vocabulary is what we start with in my class. Grab a visual dictionary (I have some here and here for you), type the words you don't know how to pronounce into a text-to-speech tool like google translate and you're ready. Again, I don't suggest telling your little one, "Now we're going to learn French" as you whip out your sheet. Keep it as authentic as possible. When getting dressed point to a colour on their clothing and proclaim, "C'est bleu." They might look at you quizzically, repeat blue, this is blue, c'est bleu. Do the same when you read books (even if they're in English), when you go on outings, or when you eat a snack. 

3. Numbers

Brush up on your high school French and learn to count to at least 10. Count items as you tidy up, as you button up a shirt, as you eat a bowl of strawberries. Remember The Count from Sesame Street? Channel that guy. Oh, and once they've got that down count backwards, skip count by 2, or identify numbers out of order. Here's a little song to help you out. You can find cards to print with the numbers here. Have your child pick a number and make a set of that many (3 bey blades, legos, hair clips).

4. Make mistakes.

You've been calling an apple une banane, your child gets to school and you realize your error? Oh well. It's ok. You won't ruin them. Your interest in their education has already communicated the message to your little learner, I love you, I support you, I'll help you, I'm interested in you and I care about your learning. If their teacher has a conniption smile sweetly and silently forgive him/her in your heart. You're doing great.

5. Get a *new* puppet who only speaks and understands French.

(Kinda special, think elf on the shelf magic). We always have one in my classrooms. We've had a bunny called "Petit Lapin" and one year a puppy. The puppet can live in a fancy box or bag and to call him or her out you have to sing a little song; "Petit lapin, petit lapin, viens jouer." (Little rabbit, little rabbit, come out and play). We sing it softly, loudly, annoyingly, they love it. The puppet might want to point to things and get excited when you say the colour in French (my puppets don't talk but they react to what the children do and say). It might want to count things in your child's room or hear you sing a song and snuggle up to your child when they sing in French.

6.  But I want to see them with a pencil in their hand!

Okay, sure, you can go there. Just remember that even in an actual classroom writing and letters and reading happens (or should happen) in an authentic way. A special journal or book for drawing about your day is a good place to start (begin with crayons or fat pencils). Ask your child to tell you about their picture. You can scribe what they say exactly in English (I love doing this, their words and stories are priceless) and then label a handful of items on the actual picture. Start in English and then look some up in French. Even if you don't name anything in French you are still modeling the writing process, maybe telling a little story and forming letters. Do they want to print? Super. Write out a word with a highlighter and have them trace it (better than dots). Not ready to print? Do not worry. It's okay, Colour, bead, roll snakes with playdough, pick up things with tweezers and strengthen those little fingers! 

Your super star can already print their name and more? Awesome-sauce, give them a pencil, some letter cards or pictures of family members with their names on them. Wherever they are, go from there. Don't compare or stress or obsess (tough I know). I get to teach kindergarten and grade 1 and then often see my students again in grade 4 when I work as a guest teacher. I have seen first hand that kids speed ahead sometimes and linger in one spot at other times. They're not behind, they're lingering and will sprint ahead when they're ready. Let 'em linger.

éléphant, hibou, queue, alligator

I recently came across these letters-of-the-alphabet crafts in French over at "Teaching Tricks Online". Cutting, pasting and following directions are valuable school skills as well. Glue each one in order into a scrapbook. When you come across more words (French and English) that begin with a certain letter, draw or print them on the right page. Glue in photos of family members and friends and write their names too (real world language is the goal). The previous links to printable words (# 2) with pictures will also have little books to make and read together. No one said you have to start with A and go in order to Z, learn the letters and sounds in their name, a friend's name, your city, keep it real.

7. Read.

Notice I didn't say read in French. Just read. Reading is key. If children learn to associate reading with comforting, close times, quiet moments with someone who loves them they will go back to reading for those same reasons (and more) time and time again. Reading teaches children to love learning, to increase their vocabulary, to begin to learn that words and books move left to right, and to begin to see that letters represent sounds and make meaning. If you need convincing check out this video celebrating International Literacy Day that Calgary Reads just put out. Brilliant.

8. Where's the technology?

Okay, really, do they need more screen time? I know all kinds of apps and games and videos but my goal here is to have you learning and interacting with your kiddo. Even in class I keep the screen time to a minimum. Yep, there are stories and games and tricks and videos but my hope is that you'll use those minimally. Check out Sarah's Pinterest Board of French apps and books for a place to start. Sylvia Duckworth is a Canadian teacher who does a thorough job of reviewing apps for students (and she's just all around awesome), check out her blog post here.

What do you think teachers and parents? Do you have some creative and fun ways to support a kindergarten or grade 1 student new to French immersion?


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