Every ESL teacher has his or her own private list of must-have resources.
Sometimes, these resources save time or money. Other times, they provide ideas for lesson plans.
Almost always, they make your teaching both easier and more effective.
What I love most about the ESL teaching community is that teachers are usually very open when it comes to sharing their tips, tricks and experiences.
In the spirit of sharing, I’ve put together a list of my favorite resources to help you create fun lessons for your students and cut down on your prep time.
From one ESL teacher to another, here are the top 10 TEFL teaching resources I can’t live without!
10 TEFL Teaching Resources You (and Your Students) Can’t Live Without
BrainPOP ELL is an amazing site that offers diverse content for English language learners, divided by level.
Take advantage of the site’s English placement test, a quick and easy tool that lets you evaluate each student’s level and better understand the needs of your class. You can then create lesson plans and target language points that are appropriate for your students.
Apart from the placement test, this site offers tons of cute videos that are appropriate for any age. Each one targets a different language topic, such as idioms, how to use negatives and count vs. noncount nouns. The videos feature two characters, a young boy and a robot, in different situations that demonstrate specific vocabulary or grammar rules.
These videos allow you to incorporate technology into your classroom, and students will benefit from seeing each language lesson put into practice.
In addition to videos, BrainPOP ELL provides vocabulary lists and activities, such as games, flashcards, quizzes and reading practice, to accompany each lesson.
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Students can practice their English listening by watching content such as movie trailers, music videos or commercials. Each video comes with interactive subtitles and translations that can be turned on or off depending on student needs.
There are options to create flashcards to reinforce the material, as well as premade quizzes that you can use to check student comprehension.
These great resources are made available on a platform that’s easy to use and saves your progress when teaching lessons. You can sort through content by level or subject, and you can set personalized goals for your class.
FluentU can make authentic English speech approachable for any level learner.
My Free Bingo Cards
My Free Bingo Cards is a website that’s super simple to navigate and that generates Bingo cards for you.
You simply type in the words you want to include and the generator will mix them up for you to create as many Bingo cards as you need.
Playing Bingo is a great way to get students engaged in the English lesson and reinforce the material you’ve taught. Plus, nearly everyone loves playing games like Bingo!
This game is super easy to incorporate into nearly any lesson. For example, you can use Bingo cards with minimal pairs to get students practicing pronunciation, as they’ll have to listen carefully to understand which word you call. Or, practice vocabulary by calling out definitions while students must mark off the corresponding words.
Bingo can also be used to drill English numbers or even practice grammar. For example, you could read a sentence and leave out a word and have students mark off the correct missing verb conjugation, pronoun, etc.
My Free Bingo Cards allows you to incorporate this effective game into your classroom with minimal preparation.
Rewordify is another essential resource for the ESL classroom. You can paste any text into the editor box and the site will reword it so that it’s less difficult.
This means that you can use just about any article, story or other written text that you want to in your class while keeping the lesson level-appropriate.
In addition to generating simpler texts, Rewordify also has premade, ready-to-download simplified books and classic literature that are great for reading practice or themed lessons for older students.
Lastly, you can print vocabulary lists, matching activities, word bank quizzes and other exercises (along with teacher keys) that correspond to the text you’ve generated. You could essentially create an entire authentic lesson with just a few clicks!
Exam English is a great resource for ESL teachers because the site has ready-made practice tests and exercises.
It’s specifically designed for students who need to pass one of the major English exams, such as the TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS or Cambridge exams. You’ll find plenty of information on each type of exam (what to expect, how it’s scored, etc.), as well as tons of practice tests and activities.
This site isn’t just for teachers with students who need to pass an English exam, though. The exercises and activities can be used for just about any lesson when it comes to getting students to practice the major English language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing).
Activities include listening to audio clips and reading articles and then answering questions about the material. There are also many different prompts for students to practice writing and loads of questions and topics to help them with their speaking skills.
Conversation Starters World
Conversation Starters World is the ultimate resource for English teachers who enjoy engaging students in oral activities.
The site provides lists of speaking topics to get your class talking and applying the language skills that they’ve learned to real conversations.
Apart from general conversation starters, there are also plenty of question ideas for playing games like “Truth or Dare” and “Would You Rather?”
Whether you teach a speaking-oriented class, are looking for a fun warm-up or want to incorporate an oral activity into your lesson, this site is a great way to get some ideas.
Canva is an absolute lifesaver when it comes to the ESL classroom! If you don’t already use it, you absolutely need to start.
It’s essentially easy-to-use design software that allows you to create just about anything you want and download it for printing. Even the least tech-savvy person should have no problem using this site, as everything is very simple and well laid-out.
There are certain graphics and premade layouts that you can buy if you want, but the majority of Canva’s images are free. You can also upload your own images.
You can use Canva to create a myriad of things for your ESL classroom, including worksheets, lesson plans, classroom posters, handouts, certificates and newsletters.
Save your creations as templates so you can easily make new items in the future, and check out Canva’s design school videos for tips on creating the best materials.
BBC TeachingEnglish is a great resource to use when you want inspiration for your next lesson plan or simply need to find something to teach last-minute.
The site has many premade ESL lesson plans from which to choose, and each one is divided by level and age. Use the lessons as-is or cut and paste to personalize them.
Lesson plans normally include worksheets that you can download for free, activity ideas and articles or audio materials.
In addition to lesson plans, you’ll find helpful teacher development articles that provide a great way to stay up to date on the best teaching practices and the latest ESL news.
English-Online is a site that carefully selects articles that are appropriate for ESL learners.
The articles cover a wide variety of subjects and include vocabulary lists that you can use to accompany the material.
You can incorporate these articles into just about any themed lesson, or you can use them to help your students practice their reading skills. Many teachers will even build an entire lesson around an article, using the text as a segue into a specific topic or language point.
Anki is a flashcard design program that you can download for free.
These flashcards are multifaceted and include audio, images, videos and other features to make them more interactive and appeal to all types of learners.
You could use Anki to practice vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation as a class, as part of individual study time or as a homework assignment.
Hopefully, this list of TEFL teaching resources has given you some great new ideas to use in your ESL classroom. With these, you can spice up your lessons and make your teaching life easier!
Camille Turner is an experienced writer and ESL teacher.
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