When I first started teaching English, one of my deepest concerns was that I’d run out of materials mid-class!
I’d imagine scenarios in which my students sat in absolute silence as I struggled to improvise meaningful, enjoyable and educational activities to round out the hour on the spot.
Overcome with embarrassment, I’d be left to awkwardly shuffle towards the door, disgraced by my lack of preparation and foresight.
In reality, the circumstance is far different.
The problem English teachers face today isn’t a lack of resources but rather an abundance of them.
For every exciting and educational lesson plan out there, there’s an equally deflating, ill-thought-out and unoriginal plan to match. Sifting through the endless blogs, platforms, teaching training courses and YouTube videos can seem exhausting.
That’s why it’s important to choose the best of the best.
To make 2021 your best teaching year yet, you have a choice: Opt for useful, contemporary and interactive resources or get left behind in the past decade.
It’s time to explore some English teaching resources both new and unique to give your classroom the modern kick it needs.
12 English Teaching Resources to Tune Up Your Classroom in 2021
Find Use Share Educate (FUSE)
FUSE is an Australian government initiative from the Department of Education and Training (Victoria) that promotes collaboration among teachers.
Useful content is grouped on a range of topics for early learners, primary and secondary-aged children.
The good news is that the EAL and ESL resources are extensive and easy to use, whether you’re beginning your teaching journey in EAL or have 20 years of experience.
Using FUSE in 2021
- The resources are high-quality and follow a strict curriculum set by the Australian government
- All resources are grouped into a full package and are ready to use
- Teachers simply engage, discover and share meaningful content
- The literacy and EAL sections are incredibly extensive and incorporate different voices, perspectives and tips
- The types of resources are varied and include videos, digibooks, audio, links, games, guides for teachers and teacher tips
- Why not get your younger students to help an editor rewrite horror stories in this interactive online publishing simulation?
- Your class is able to learn about Australian culture as well as a range of different areas of the schooling syllabus
- The materials are constantly being updated, shared and trialed by teachers to ensure that you’re able to choose materials of the highest quality
- Teacher collaboration is an important and beneficial exercise not only for students but also the teachers themselves, as it builds a sense of community and collectiveness
If you haven’t already (I really hope you have), then it’s time you implemented video-based content in your classroom!
By creating an environment of excitement, wonder and learning, the real-world videos of FluentU provide useful and engaging content your students will both recognize and love.
Using FluentU in 2021
- Simply reading, writing and listening is no longer sufficient to create an interactive and modern classroom
- Recognition leads to engagement, and pop-culture in the form of video is an important tool to use
- New videos are constantly being added to the platform, meaning there’s never a shortage of up-to-date, relevant and contemporary videos at your disposal (including interactive captions!)
- A teacher account has never been easier to manage, as you’re able to assign homework and control the flow of work
- Guarantee results and know that your students are doing their tasks (and having fun!)
Updates for 2021
- FluentU is actively seeking new team members to produce more high-quality, video-based learning materials for YouTube
- FluentU is focused on ramping up their video content this year with an eye towards YouTube
These updates will come in two forms:
- Using the FluentU platform to break down songs, movie trailers, epic scenes and other types of engaging content to assist with grammar, vocabulary and listening comprehension
- Videos on tips, tricks and handy instructional content to assist with those pesky little nuances of the language, such as the intricacies of pronunciation
Cambridge English is perhaps the best-known assessment organization for English qualifications in the world. Their coveted titles are highly sought after and C2 proficiency (native level) is the end goal for many EAL and ESL speakers to hold.
Their website reflects this level of high-quality with the same degree of dedication and passion. Although the materials may seem a little more exam-focused, their updates and practice tests serve as invaluable sources for anyone studying for an English exam or teaching exam-focused students.
Many students are hoping to enter the global marketplace and English being the language of business means many will seek some form of recognition to coincide with their English development.
Plus, Cambridge is still the most well-known and respected English speaking qualification in the world.
Using Cambridge English in 2021
While Cambridge English is focused more so on exam preparation, the resources are still highly beneficial for a general English class.
- Search the webpage for free lesson plans, listening activities, videos, practice exams, vocabulary lists and further exam preparation materials
- Find the particular level you’re teaching (using the search bar) to pinpoint the most appropriate materials
- The levels go from beginner all the way to high-level business English exam preparation
Updates for 2021
- The English exams have been updated to retain relevance for English learners and can be a great resource in class
- All teaching handbooks are now available, meaning you can teach from an exam perspective if you wish
- Videos have been uploaded to YouTube, giving students and teachers insight into how the exams in 2021 will be conducted
- A range of sample papers is available online, meaning you can accurately level your students to see where they are
There’s no escaping it—grammar is an integral component of the English classroom. Even the mere utterance of the word “grammar” can bring up feelings of dread and horror in students and teachers alike.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
There should be no fear of grammar in the new decade as EnglishGrammar.org provides a go-to, ready-to-use page packed with beneficial exercises and consistently-updated materials.
Using EnglishGrammar.org in 2021
- A large focus of the page is its relevant and useful worksheets, meaning you won’t be wasting your time with useless activities and boring classes
- Materials are constantly updated and formatted in ready-to-use quizzes, activities and exercises
- The Facebook community is significantly large and committed to both the development of English and improving writing and grammar skills, meaning you can connect with fellow teachers
- There’s a true sense of collaboration and modernity with this resource, as they’re constantly seeking to update, share and release meaningful material
BusyTeacher.org provides tried and tested printable worksheets for all topics. The website is very popular for teachers “in the know” and it sees some serious traffic with good reason. The platform claims to be for the modern teacher, and the resources and blog are consistently updated with ready-to-use materials.
Time management for many teachers is a balancing act. It’s important to utilize as many resources as possible to ensure that you’re fully dedicated to the classroom and teaching, even if this means seeking resources externally.
Furthermore, lesson planning can be a dull exercise that often drains more time than is required.
The growing importance in today’s English classroom is one of presence and engagement. As a result, seeking high-quality materials that are ready-to-use is a great way to cut down on this otherwise valuable time.
Using BusyTeacher.org in 2021
- Have a look around the worksheets for useful and easy-to-use lessons plans
- Follow the blog for updated and creative methods to teach boring and confusing topics
- These “boring” areas tend to be more grammar-focused and rely on memorization rather than practical applications, such as grammar rules and tenses: the past, present, and future tenses, the verb “to be” etc.
- BusyTeacher.org offers games and interactive worksheets for practical application of learned topics rather than ineffective memorization
- Many resources are “teacher-lead,” meaning they’ve been trialed in the classroom and deemed worthy to be used
Reddit/ELATeachers and Reddit/ESL
Reddit/ELA is a sub-Reddit for English teachers (mostly US-based). However, collaboration tends to span across the globe. The blog is constantly being updated with tips, insights, experiences and stories.
Whether you’re an active poster or a lurker, Reddit/ELA is a must-have resource to receive key insights into the industry.
Plus, it’s also a great way to kill some downtime while reading humorous stories from in and outside the classroom.
Using Reddit/ELA in 2021:
- You receive access to unique and challenging materials (for example, this Reddit post on famous authors and their publishing history)
- Learn how to encourage your students to read more
- It helps to challenge your idea of how to conduct a class with new approaches to thinking and learning
- The benefits of engaging in online communities such as Reddit serves several functions: limit feelings of isolation, expose yourself to different perspectives and seek advice from a larger base of experienced professionals
Reddit/TEFL is an online sub-Reddit dedicated to English teachers around the world who are either searching for or actively working in a TEFL position. Similarly to Reddit/ELA, the TEFL sub-Reddit connects 37,000 members (or, “Redditors”) from this professional network.
There are several reasons for you to use Reddit/TEFL, such as:
- Advice is based not only on in-class methods but also on job applications, resume writing and other components of getting started in the TELF world
- You can find answers to very specific questions from experienced professionals
- The environment is supportive, honest and engaging
Ok, I know what you’re going to say.
“I’ve been using YouTube in my classroom for ages! How is this new or a must-have?”
But remember that YouTube, like any other online video service, is a tool. And the massive change comes not from the use but rather the method.
It’s important to continually re-imagine your approach to YouTube and to continually use it in new ways.
Using YouTube in 2021
- Re-imagine traditional videos in new ways (for example, rather than simply using TED talks, take it a step further and use video content such as the TEDxriddle to reinvigorate and take a different approach to this frequently used resource)
- Encourage your students to use YouTube as part of a modern syllabus
- Students should be motivated to engage with creators, discuss video concepts and upload videos, leading to a more practical approach
- Motivate your students to engage in self-education by attempting to uncover information in their own way by assigning “free YouTube time”
- As a teacher, why not start your own channel in 2021?
Being a teacher also means being a learner.
With the growing focus on emotional teaching methods, inclusive training and understanding the needs of a diverse classroom, the teachers of today (and the future) need to be well-skilled in managing these classroom considerations in 2021.
These are goals we should all be striving to achieve, and with the help of online accreditation services, it’s never been easier.
EdX has a collection of incredible courses at your disposal to ensure you’re emotionally and socially prepared for the challenging task of being an educator.
Consider enrolling in some of these eye-opening courses:
- Teaching and Learning in the Diverse Classroom
- Inclusive Teaching: Supporting All Students
- Introduction to Family Engagement in Education
If these aren’t for you, don’t worry.
Keep searching EdX for the right course to skill-up, boost your resume and take on new perspectives for the coming decade.
Best of all, it’s free!
It’s time to get organized and improve your classroom management!
Google Classroom is an online platform that allows teachers to manage coursework, time, student tasks, grading, allocate homework and much, much more! Once mastered, it’s an invaluable tool to establish an efficient digital classroom environment.
It’s far from a homework distribution system but allows for collaborative and instantaneous group work.
Using Google Classroom in 2021
The benefits of Google Classroom are two-fold:
- Teachers are able to better manage their tasks and schedule
- By moving to a paperless system, students are improving not only their English but also their digital literacy
Have a play around with the platform and get familiar with the features, as new and exciting updates are added to the platform on a monthly basis.
Plus, explore the teacher’s lounge where you can plan, execute and learn key insights from your peers and educational professionals.
New Features for 2021
For 2021, the updates to the platform prove infinitely useful for both marking and providing feedback to students.
- Teachers on the platform are able to create their own marking rubric and reuse the same rubric for all students
- Students are able to use the rubric to maximize their chances of scoring a good mark
- For more advanced students, the originality update means that teachers can keep an eye on citations to ensure academically sound and plagiarism-free work is submitted
- Both teachers and students can save and print these originality reports
- For distance learning, teachers can initiate class video meetings with students where they can also conduct Q&As and polls
British Council is an institution that’s got a clear eye for the future. Known as “The United Kingdom’s international organization for cultural relations and educational opportunities,” this resource opens your classroom to the world.
But before exploring all its great resources, why not start with an English test to assess your students properly, ensuring they’ve been appropriately leveled and are on the right track with regard to their English acquisition.
Using British Council 2021
- Keep materials up-to-date by searching for specialty lesson plans, such as this International Women’s Day reading activity
- Follow the blog for updates in the industry, insights into growing trends and general advice for the modern teacher. Are you preparing your students to be Global Learners?
- Keep updated on policy and developments across the UK, Europe and the entire world
- Review their courses that are both topical and integral in today’s global world
- Take a look at incredible resources, such as a course that assists teachers in learning how to educate migrants and refugees who have been displaced
- The British Council promotes practical and value-focused materials, such as stories, poems, full lesson plans, discussion topics and fun travel-focused content around the UK
- Search for the age group that you teach and choose from over 400 lesson plans, all following the high standard of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
It’s becoming increasingly important to have a diverse and relevant set of skills in the teaching profession.
The importance of upskilling is slowly becoming more of an expectation rather than a choice. Therefore, it’s important to ensure that you’re as knowledgeable as you can be.
Rather than fork out an excessive amount of cash on training, simply scan Udemy for excellent deals and relevant courses so you can upskill without breaking the bank.
Using Udemy in 2021:
- You can find something specific and potentially lucrative, should you decide to specialize in a particular area of study
- Take an introductory course to teaching online
- Technical courses like this teaching business English class are available
- You can try out this great introductory course to the world of TEFL
- Courses are often discounted and readily available, implementable and well-researched
- Always be careful to read the reviews!
Smiling Mind is serious.
They’re serious about compassion, respect, empathy, resilience, self-awareness and critical thinking.
These attributes are something all teachers should be aiming to instill in their students. They originally set out to help five million young people with both their mental and physical development by 2021. By the end of 2020, they managed to exceed that goal by half a million.
You have the unique opportunity to be a part of this worthwhile and wholly achievable goal.
The app and its programs are specially designed by psychiatrists and educators to boost student engagement and happiness. Their focus in 2021 is the same as their focus from the very beginning—to help students be the best they can be.
The meditation programs in the app are extensive, ranging from one-minute practices to longer sessions for a wide variety of purposes.
Consider moments of peak stress or frustration in the classroom and slowly integrate these shorter sessions into your curriculum. It would be advisable to encourage parents, friends, family and the children to use the app concurrently to boost engagement and repetition.
Using Smiling Mind in 2021
- They have an incredible section on mindfulness for children aged 7-18 to assist with foundational learning and stress management
- 1/3 of educators in Australia are already using the app and programs to boost learning, concentration and mental clarity amongst their students
- The app is entirely free and can be a great resource both in the classroom and out to build healthy habits and awareness
- Their courses and focus are on contemporary issues. Following the devastating bushfires in Australia, they released an extensive trauma-focused report, which means you’ll always receive updated, relevant information and tools to cover difficult classroom matters
For Teachers and Educators
- Outside of Australia, they offer online training sessions, leaving you prepared to deliver classes in mindfulness and social-emotional teaching
- They provide materials through the online shop, allowing you to integrate mindfulness into the classroom with enough programs for an entire curriculum
- The manual includes resources for educators, journals, the app and a guide for parents
Taking on the classroom in 2021 can seem a monumental task.
With the influx of digital distractions, issues with classroom management and a growing number of behavioral concerns, the pressure on teachers can seem overwhelming.
By utilizing these 12 resources, you’re giving yourself the best chance of delivering a well-balanced, educational and socially-emotionally fulfilling class time and time again.
Good luck for 2021!
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