UCL News


Teaching grammar to the iPhone generation

2 September 2011

An innovative iPhone App (the interactive Grammar of English, "iGE"), which provides a complete interactive course in English grammar, has been brought to market by UCL Business PLC (UCLB).

iGE App screen shot

The app was developed by academics at UCL's 'Survey of English Usage' (SEU) and enables English language students to develop knowledge and skills at their own pace, using mobile technology to study more effectively and with greater flexibility.

The App will be targeted at students studying the English language at secondary school, college or university, as well as those who are studying English as a second or foreign language. It is intended for anyone who is interested in clear, plain English.

The iGE App distinguishes itself from other English grammar learning materials in two main ways:

• The exercise materials are taken from the SEU's spoken and written English language databases (corpora), which means that all the examples are authentic. Importantly, in contrast with student textbooks, which often use fixed (i.e. 'hard-wired') and artificial examples, the examples used in the App are continually changed, providing users with a dynamic and exciting learning environment.

• The course materials have been developed by UCL researchers who are established leaders in the area of English grammar and have significant experience in developing English Language Training materials for use in schools, colleges and universities.

Professor Bas Aarts says: "The SEU team have developed the App in response to students and teachers who say that many existing learning tools, whether they are paper-based or interactive, often fail to meet their English language learning needs. Teachers and students are given advice about grammar that is often dated, confusing and, in some cases, highly misleading. This App offers students the opportunity to practise their language skills and study English whenever they want and wherever they are. Further Apps for punctuation and spelling are planned for the near future."

Dr Steven Schooling from UCLB says: "The market for English Language learning tools is worth hundreds of millions of pounds per annum, with significant growth in overseas markets such as South-East Asia, driven by mobility and employment trends, and we expect the App to be a valuable resource for both students and teachers across the world.

"The release of the App demonstrates UCLB's commitment to knowledge transfer in UCL departments such as English, and will provide a bridgehead for further developments across the Arts and Humanities."


Media contact: Dave Weston

Image: Screenshot from the iGE iPhone app