Free ETS eLearning Tools for Today’s Learners
There are many apps, games and websites that offer you and your children a chance to learn without it feeling like work. ETS is sharing free research-backed apps developed by scientists in our Research & Development (R&D) division to help improve the writing, reading or English language speaking skills of you and your children at home now and in the future. Learn more about them below:
Writing Mentor® (beta):
Best for: Grades 4 and up, adult learners
The Writing Mentor® app is a Google Docs™ add-on designed to help writers improve their writing success in academic settings. The app is free and easily installed from the Google Docs Add-ons menu, or the app website. The Writing Mentor application offers two writing modes: Paragraph Writing Practice (for developing writers) and Extended Writing (for more proficient writers).
Writing Mentor uses natural language processing (NLP) to automatically provide feedback to help users improve the quality of their writing (e.g., structure, coherence). Writing Mentor will run on a laptop or desktop computer and accepts any English text, but it will provide the most accurate feedback on academic and college writing.
Best for: Grades 3-5, adult learners
RelayReader™ is an app for learners where they take turns reading aloud with a skilled virtual partner, just like in a relay, thus building confidence, skill and reading stamina. Readers record themselves and reflect on how they sound as well as enjoy a story for the sake of reading a good book. The app in its current form offers The Adventures of Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi.
RelayReader can be accessed here. Parents and guardians need to sign up and accept the terms and conditions for children to be able to read with the app. The app is available using a Chrome browser on any laptop or desktop computer, Chromebook and is available in the Apple App Store for iOS. You do not need an invitation code to create an account. The web app will not work on mobile devices such as tablets and phones. An Android version is in the works.
Amazon Alexa Skills (beta):
Best for: Grades PK-6, adult learners
ETS’s R&D Foundry team developed three skill-based games supported by Amazon Alexa in the Amazon Skills Store, designed for K–6 English language learners, but fun for all ages. These interactive games provide entertaining opportunities for practicing English speaking skills.
The three skills are:
- Animal ID: Ask Alexa questions to try to figure out which animal she is thinking of.
- Available on: Amazon Echo, Echo Plus, Echo Dot and Echo Show
- I Spy English: Alexa will provide hints as you try to guess what object she has randomly selected. You have three guesses to get it right.
- Available on: Amazon Echo Show
- Guess the Person: Try to guess which person Alexa has selected from an image of multiple characters. Ask Alexa yes or no questions to narrow down the possible people until you figure out which person she selected.
- Available on: Amazon Echo Show
Each of the skills is intended to help with general English speaking proficiency and development. These skill-based games are in the early days of development and are intended to learn how users interact with the smart speaker games, allowing the team to better understand learner’s needs and improve the kind of feedback that can be provided on their speaking skills.
To enable the skills on your device, say, “Alexa, enable Guess the Person” or “Alexa, enable Animal ID” or “Alexa, enable I Spy English.”
These are just a few examples of the learning technology ETS is developing to support learners’ changing needs and preferences. We’re proud to offer these resources to support digital learning for parents, educators, and students around the world.