Expectation: If you’re a native English speaker, then teaching English abroad must be a cinch, right? Reality: Not necessarily! One of the worst misconceptions about teaching ESL is that if you can speak the language, then you can definitely teach it. Teaching English to foreigners is more than just pulling songs out of your back pocket or playing Pictionary. In fact, many countries take English language learning very seriously, so if you want to teach English abroad, you should too!
No two ESL classrooms are alike so there’s hardly ever a one-size-fits-all lesson that will reach all your students. An ESL teacher has to be prepared to face anything on any given day: some really smart students, some sleepy students, some bored students, students with learning difficulties, classrooms with only a blackboard, outdoor classrooms, or classrooms with so much technology it makes your head spin!
So what do you do? If you create a tried and true collection of ESL teaching resources that you can access anytime, you won’t have to pull your hair out making lesson plans and resources from scratch every day. However, in your search for ESL resources, you know there are a ton of websites out there in cyberspace. How do you know which ones are legit and which ones are downright terrible? Which ones work and which ones don’t?
Well, here are 10 kick-a$% ESL resources for teachers. You’re welcome!
ESL resources for your classroom
Keep your classroom fresh with ideas from any of these fah-bulous resources for ESL teachers!
1. Busy Teacher
Busy Teacher is a lifesaver when it comes to preparing for almost any ESL topic under the sun. With over 16,000 printable worksheets and lesson plans, the stuff you see on the site are written by teachers for teachers and are absolutely free of charge, unlike other sites where you have to pay a subscription to access ready-made resources.
2. ESL Galaxy
ESL Galaxy is a comprehensive, one-stop, completely free ESL resource site. Go crazy and download printable flashcards, worksheets, board games, lesson plan packs, and PowerPoint slides for the more high-tech classroom. There’s also many resources if you’re teaching ESL to adults, including materials on survival English and Business English.
3. TEFL Tunes
TEFL Tunes is an awesome ESL resource for teachers because it categorizes songs to help you teach certain grammatical concepts. If you loved Sesame Street as a kid, then you know that learning is way easier if you can sing about it. Songs are especially effective with kids and students who possess Gardner’s musical intelligence (i.e. learners who are music smart). The site also classifies songs according to learning level, theme, task, and artist. Although there are some free lesson plans, to access all the site’s resources, you have to subscribe.
4. Make Belief Comix
If you’re not a great artist but still want to use comic strips in the classrooms to make teaching and learning English more authentic and fun, this site will make life much easier for you. Make Belief Comix offers a more creative way to engage your students, including creative writing prompts, story ideas, and free printable comic strips. Topics include contemporary student issues like bullying, peer pressure, and identity formation.
5. ESL Video
Can’t access YouTube in the classroom and need free ESL video resources for teachers? ESL Video is the perfect, distraction-free alternative. It provides a ton of videos with quizzes and lessons already made by teachers. Use video to engage learners to improve their listening, speaking, grammar, and vocabulary skills. You can also create your own quizzes and embed them on the site!
6. ESL Games World
Looking for a fun game to perk up those yawning students? ESL Games World has interactive, online, and PowerPoint games based on popular TV game shows like Jeopardy to test vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. No computer? No problem! There are also printable games available for download if you’re teaching ESL in a low-tech classroom.
ESL resources for your students (and their parents!)
As an ESL teacher, you only have so many minutes in each lesson and sometimes, you can’t review or test all the material you want to or help all the students who are struggling. Here are a few ESL resources that can help motivate your students toward self-learning:
7. Class Dojo
Looking for great ESL resources for teachers and students? Class Dojo is a great app that can help you manage your classroom and make your students smile. If you think handing out stickers is boring, share a digital high-five with a student who got the answer right! Give virtual points for teamwork and for helping to clean up the classroom. Also, forget boring PTA meetings and connect with parents online to share news about their kids’ results.The app works on any device and is free for teachers. Score!
StoryPlace is there to encourage your ESL students to read in their free time. Although the digital stories are suitable for elementary school native English speakers, they’re also massively helpful to students learning English for the first time. The colorful videos and graphics also make the stories really attractive to younger learners.
If your students are finding it hard to remember tough vocabulary words or grammatical concepts, introduce them to Memrise. The app offers high-quality pre-made lessons in more than 200 languages, including English. If your students are feeling more adventurous, they can also make their own flashcards to focus on their individual weak points and compete with their friends online! Memrise is really effective because it uses technology that adapts to each learner’s personal learning style and performance. Memrise also encourages students to learn on the go because it can be downloaded on any iOS or Android smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device.
ESL resources for YOU!
Are you feeling overwhelmed or burnt out by your ESL teaching experience? Don’t worry, here’s a free resource to help you cope and boost your teaching morale. Plus, it offers expert advice on professional development opportunities.
10. British Council/BBC Teaching English
Often regarded as the authority on English in certain parts of the world, particularly Asia, British Council/BBC Teaching English offers a lot of resources, including many that focus on teacher development. Access an ELT research database, read research papers on teaching English, explore training courses to up your teaching game, and connect with teacher networks around the world to exchange ideas and to get answers to all your pertinent ESL teaching questions.
11. IELTS Podcast
If you are preparing older students for official exams, then they will probably need academic vocabulary. IELTSPodcast not only have some great tutorials about the IELTS writing section but an extensive vocabulary guide. This page uses interesting Ted Talks and focusses on the higher level vocabulary needed to pass the exams, it offers gap fill exercises and quizzes you can practice with your students.
Still on the hunt?
Still looking for more ESL teaching resources, especially free ESL resources? Chat with teachers in ESL online discussion forums and keep devouring teach abroad articles for more insider ESL teaching tips and tricks!
Looking for the perfect ESL teaching job abroad? Browse GoAbroad’s teaching job directory to find your perfect program, read reviews, and reach out to program staff and alumni. The ESL resources are out there, you just have to find them.