Using mobile phones in English lessons


With the advent of technology in every aspect of our daily lives, and their constant presence in our hands and pockets, why don’t we spend some time thinking about how we can turn it into a teaching and learning resource?

The vast majority of people will either have their own smart phone or access to a smart phone or tablet at home. But are we teaching the language around all its functionality?

It’s a great way to finish a lesson on a lighter note, or as a little extra when you run out of material too quickly! The following activities are suggestions that you can use without using data or needing wifi.


You can use both digital and analogue time on the phone, which is good practice for the real world of three fifteen or quarter past three. Use the world clocks to practice time telling in different places without having to change the time on the phone. A good way to create an easy exercise is to set a timer for a task, or a countdown for an extra element of fun to an exercise.


It’s pretty safe to assume we have used calendars and dates in teaching as a basis of talking about routines, special occasions or festivals, seasons, days of the week and months of the year, or to practice past, present and future tenses. Why not take this to the next digital level and use the calendar on your phone? You can use it to set tasks for homework, set appointments, plan holidays etc.


Ever tried a numbers dictation? It goes something like this, read out a sum: 12/2+36-5. Did the learners keep up? Do they have the right answer? Start with easy addition and subtraction, then ramp it up with longer sums, and decimal points. You can also practice budgeting with a calculator, and talking about prices and money as well.


Use it to describe pictures learners have taken themselves, it will be much more meaningful than anything else. You can also set them treasure hunts that they have to evidence with a photo, or set homework tasks with photos as evidence.


What you have in front of you may well be used for all sorts but it is indeed still a phone. Can they say their phone number, can they write down other people’s numbers? Do they know how to navigate an automated phone system? What do you say to answer the phone or to end a call? All things you can now practice!

Bonus – maps

This one may require some data use so it is a bonus activity, but practicing directions on the maps app is a great exercise. It also allows you and your learner to discover what’s around you. Where is the closest bus stop, local park, what shops are there, where is the local school? 

Give these a try and more, let us know what else you come up with. The smart phone really is your digital oyster.

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