4 Free Tools to Help International Students Improve English Skills

October 09, 2014

The language barrier is something that all international students aspire to overcome in their years in a U.S. university or college. International students are encouraged to immerse themselves in the American environment and initiate conversations with American students in order to quickly improve English skills.  

However, for prospective students who have never had a chance to visit an English-speaking country, or current students who are too shy and afraid of their accents to speak frequently, improving their English skills can truly be a struggle. Here are four free, easy-to-use mobile tools that can help international students be more comfortable building their English skills.

Here are five ways international students can boost their English skills.

1. Sounds: The Pronunciation App has an intelligent platform that allows you to learn English pronunciation from its most basic level. Every English word has a unique pronunciation, which is denoted by a special symbol. You will learn these symbols in the very first steps.

Once you have mastered them, you will be better able to pronounce words with an American accent. The premium version offers practice exercises and quizzes that will help you remember all words and symbols. If you have a smartphone and are still worrying about your pronunciation, this app is a must-own. 

2. Elevate: This brain-training app helps you build a comprehensive set of skills – including reading, listening, speaking and writing – without requiring hours of practice. It's a fun and entertaining app that challenges you to win every game with your English skills. 

Whether you win or lose, all the answers will be on display, so you will have a chance to go over what you have done. It also offers a daily practice schedule and results, so you can compare your results over time to see how much you have improved. 

3. Google Translate: Google Translate does more than help translate words and paragraphs. The app also has a microphone feature that allows users to read what they want to translate, and have it  immediately displayed. 

You can take advantage of this feature as a way to see if the words or phrases you pronounce are similar to what appears in the app. For example, a friend of mine meant to say "dog," but Google Translate thought it was "duck". Afterward, he typed in "dog" and "duck" and found the correct way to pronounce the two words. This is a great way to both practice and fix your mistakes at the same time. 

4. Siri: Even though Siri is a programmed tool designed to interact with users via their iPhones, it has a large amount of English dialogue to offer. 

Talking with Siri is amusing and especially useful for building your English skills. You ask questions and at the same time learn the proper ways in which you should answer those questions. More importantly, you have to pronounce every word correctly to convey your meaning, or Siri will not be able to understand you. 

These apps are fantastic tools for you to build your English skills, especially when used consistently. Sometimes, you may have a busy day, but spending 15 minutes a day on one of these apps will bring tremendous results.

Interacting with native students is also extremely crucial, so don't just rely on these tools, but instead, step out of your comfort zone and speak up.


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