20 tips to learn how to better read and write with the iPad

Yann Houry
7 min readOct 19, 2020

As as student, the iPad can help you overcome many difficulties and offers you many solutions to help you with your writing or improve your ability to read.

These solutions are classified into three parts: Read, Write & Understand.

Here they are. And they are all free!


1. Use Speak selection

Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech > Speak selection to activate Speak selection.

You can then read any piece of text on the iPad. Handy when you can’t pronounce or recognize a word.

2. Use Shortcuts

Use this shortcut to display a web page with the Open Dyslexic font. Useful if you are dyslexic and you have a problem reading online.

3. OpenDyslexic font

Download the OpenDyslexic font to display all your documents with this font specially designed for dyslexic students.

If you don’t know how to install a font, visit this page: How to use custom fonts on iPhone and iPad.

4. Reader mode

Read comfortably using Reader mode. To do this, tap the four small lines in the address bar in Safari. You will thus avoid any unnecessary distraction (advertisements, navigation menus, etc.).

5. Convert a web page into a PDF

By doing this, you will be able to export the page, read it in offline mode and even annotate or highlight passages you want to remember. To do this, since iOS 13, take a screenshot and choose Full page then save your PDF with the app of your choice.

6. Office Lens

With Office Lens from Microsoft, you can take a picture of a document (a book for instance) or a whiteboard and scan it. From now on, you can share this picture to the built-in Immersive Reader and change the font (the Comic Sans is great for dyslexic students), change the size, detach syllabes, display nouns in purple, verbs in red and much more. You can use Picture Dictionary, translate, read out loud the text as well.


7. Use the Speak recognition fonction

It may happen that you cannot write a word and you cannot find its spelling in your dictionary. In this case, record your voice. The iPad will recognize the word for you and at the same time give you its spelling. To do this, press the small microphone at the bottom of the keyboard next to the space bar.

8. Create shortcuts

If you have trouble typing quickly, create shortcuts. For instance, to write your email address quickly, create a shortcut like “yh” and by writing this you will get “yhoury@lyceeinternational.london”. To do this, go to Settings > General > Keyboard > Text replacement.

9. Turn your handwriting into block letters

Hand write with Notability and turn your handwriting into block letters. Write by hand, select your text using the ✄ icon, press the selection and in the menu that appears, choose Convert To Text.

10. Fluently

As one can read on the website:

Fluently is an online text editor with a multilingual translator, dictionary, and thesaurus built-in.

So if you need to write (and not only to translate like you would using Google Translate) and format a document, your are at the right place.

11. Google Docs

Everyone knows Google Docs but it’s worth remember it: you are not alone. If you get through the blank page anguish, remember that you can share your document with a friend who can help you. Also remember your teacher can read what you are writing and provide you feedback and advice. So think of it!

12. MindNode

Traditional note-taking may be difficult for youngest students. With MindNode, which is a mind mapping app, you can jot down your thoughts, create some kind of picture of your ideas and export them as rich text.


13. Check your spelling

Check your spelling, if you are a French speaker, with le bon patron. Of course, you can find many spell checkers (such as Grammarly or Language Tool). But the reason why I’m suggesting my students to use Le bon patron is that they can get explanations both in French or in English so when they are more confident with one or other language, this is helpful.

The English version of Le bon patron is SpellCheckPlus.

14. Use a dictionary

For French speakers, go to Larousse and search for the word you want to know the spelling. Also think to check conjugation as well with the Bescherelle. To avoid typing “Larousse” ou “Bescherelle” every time you need to visit these pages, create a favorite. To do that, press the rectangle icon located in the upper-right corner of your screen (the one with a little arrow pointing to the top) and choose Add to favorite.

15. Phonetic search

For French speakers only.

Do a phonetic search by using the Académie française dictionary. Type the word you are looking for spelling and choose Mots proches. The dictionary will find the right spelling for you!

16. Built-in dictionary

Use the built-in dictionary (to add a dictionary, go to Settings > General > Dictionary). To use it, press a word to make it appeared and choose Look up.

17. Create your own dictionary

Create your own dictionary and memorise the vocabulary you’ve learn while working or reading. In Notes, create a folder labelled Dictionary and create as many notes as there are letters in the alphabet. To sort these notes in an alphabetic order, go to Settings > Notes > Sort notes by.

18. Google Translate

Translate words you don’t understand. Use Google translate or Word reference to find the meaning of a word. Don’t try to figure out the meaning of a complete text. Instead, try to understand a word, a group of words or even a sentence. You can even translate a paper document with the augmented reality feature of the app.

19. Google translate in a spreadsheet

By using the formula Google Translate in Google sheets, you will be able to get a translation of the words you don’t know.

Depending on which language you want, the function should look like that: =GOOGLETRANSLATE($A1,"fr","en").

You can even create some kind of automatic research of the translated word by using this function: =HYPERLINK("https://www.larousse.fr/dictionnaires/francais/"&A1, "Français").

By doing this, you create swiftly and automatically a dictionary without having to write a lot of things!

20. Otter

Having a Zoom videoconference with your students? Consider using Otter which provide a real-time transcript so students don’t have to take notes and can keep focused on what you say. Transcribing your Zoom meeting can also help those that are deaf or hard of hearing.

Moreover you can listen to your transcript of course but you can also highlight text or comments it. Very convenient!

Only for English teachers (Otter only supports English) using their computer.



Yann Houry

Teacher and Director of Academic Research & Innovation @ Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill