The ABC of ELT

What is evernote

As you may have read, I am huge Evernote fan. I love using evernote for professional development and for I also use it a lot for creating drafts of blog posts and other work. However, until now I haven’t really used it for learning a language. Fortunately, I am about to embark on a new language learning adventure and thought I’d try to use Evernote to help me learn, as it is a program I am familiar with and can see how I could use it for my own language learning and then I could apply it to helping students learn.

I intend to make this into a little series with some screencasts, suggested activities and resources to use. I hope we can then transfer my and your experiences for our students.

However, before we start I’ll do a vague overview of Evernote and some general ideas about using it for learning a language.

What is Evernote

Evernote is essentially an online notebook that synchronises across however many devices you have. In short, you write something on your PC, it automatically saves, and then you can read and edit it whenever you like on whatever other device you have (such as a phone or tablet). There are some other cloud services that offer similar functions (such as google drive/docs, box, dropbox etc) but the interface of Evernote and it’s ability to combine audio/text and pictures in one document make it really stand out.

A quick note, unlike other services, you can’t download your file as a word document or similar, but you can print it or cut and past the file. But let’s not end on a downer, there are other related apps that extend Evernote even further! (as I say I’m a bit fan)

Organising your notebooks

The first step I did with my new endeavour was to organise my new notebooks for learning Spanish. Notebooks hold your notes on different topics and organise all your files together. I started off with Spanish vocabulary, grammar, reading, listening, and speaking. then I arranged them under a Stack (collect of notebooks) of Spanish. This was my starting point and where I’d arrange all my notes from here on.

There is another feature that helps organise your notebooks, that is the tags feature which can also help you find notes as well.

Searching and stealing from the web

One of the great extra features of Evernote is that you can take webpages and put them on a note which you can then edit later. In fact, there are a couple of programs you can put into your web browser (clip to Evernote and clearly) which allow you to do this very easily. This will include any hyperlinks and pictures but, unfortunately, not audio or videos.

Creating content.

Although you can take audio or video directly from a webpage, you can use a smartphone or computer to record a video or audio onto a notebook. This is a great way to keep a log of your progress, record an answer for homework (or self set) task and then share it with others or anything else you can think of. Of course, you can use traditional text or a picture as well (or a mixture or any of the previous mentioned formates).


As I’ve mentioned before in this post, you can share your notes to people, including those who DON’T have Evernote. What’s more, there are handy built in share buttons so you can email, Facebook, tweet or just get the url link , and share with someone else and let them make changes to your note, say a teacher or other person who is learning the same language as you.

Evernote peek

This is a feature I don’t have access to (as it is only available to iPad users with a smart cover) however I believe it too would be useful for learning a language. You can arrange different phrases and a translation of the phrase you are trying to learn above it. As you roll the smart cover away you reveal the phrase which you would try to remember.

Different versions of Evernote.

Basic (Free)

The basic version has almost all the great features of Evernote and has a 50mb monthly limit of uploads and free application on any device you have (by any device I don’t mean a random pen, whiteboard or similar but instead smartphone, tablet or computer system.) This is the version I currently use and it has filled all the functions I use it for (so far).

Premium ($5 a month)

The premium account cost $5 a month ($45 a year) and allows you a few extra features such as a 1Gb limit for each month, offline notebooks on mobile devices (so you can create and access notes offline), multiple note editors (this is the only way to have multiple users edit a note) larger individual note size and no adverts.

Premium for groups (variable)

There is also a group premium option where you can purchase multiple monthly accounts all to one billing account, the more you buy, the cheaper it is. Here is the pricing plan and some more details.

Premium for schools

There is an automatic 50% for education establishments and some resources to use in your school.

Further action and question

  • Have you read my post about using Evernote for professional development? It’s a little old so I’m thinking of updating it, I’d love your help.
  • Do you use Evernote or a similar system? For language learning?
  • What self set task or activities do you use?
  • Do you use it with your students? What tasks do you set them?
  • What type of posts would you like to see in the future of this series?
  • Evernote has some resources on their website for teaching and learning a language with the aid of Evernote. They could also help.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

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