Top ESL Resources To Help Your Students Gain More

The ESL market is vast, and within it, we find lot of resources available to enhance our classroom, our planning and of course, our teaching. But how on earth do you decide what is useful? With so much on offer from videos, audios to board games and classroom gadgets, it can be a daunting choice.

In this article, we will provide our suggestions for resources that will help you with your English teaching and ensure students gain more from your lessons.

Some will help you save time, some will allow your students to have a little fun, and some are basic essentials to assist you as you teach second language learners of all ages and abilities.

Focusing on how our students learn as opposed to how we teach, can help change our mindset to one where the learner is at the forefront. We have tried to suggest resources with this in mind. 

We think too much about effective methods of teaching and not enough about effective methods of learning.
John Carolus S. J.

Kinaesthetic Items

Learning through physical activities, sums up this approach and offers something to all students regardless of their learning style. Many students love to play games and respond actively in the classroom, and these resources help them do just that.

We suggest collecting a variety of the following and using them in your classroom throughout the academic year. Students of all ages respond well to these resources, and they can make a boring task far more interesting.

Mini Whiteboard

  • Buzzers, bells or noisemakers of some kind. (Even dog toys work!) Use these for team games, to ‘buzz in’ for answers, and for games like “taboo”.
  • Mini whiteboards and pens. These can be quite pricey depending on where you buy them, but it makes a big difference to the involvement of the class. Use them for spelling and definition games, to answer questions, share opinions, play true or false games and so on. The possibilities for ESL games are endless!
  • Fly swats. Excellent for board games to select answers, definitions or keywords. (If you have never played this game check out this link https://www.eslactivity.org/flyswatter-esl-vocabulary-game-for-kids/)
  • Dice and counters. Essential for board games.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
– Benjamin Franklin

Timers

Essential to every classroom is the humble clock. You may well have access to a whiteboard or TV screen where you can display a countdown clock in your classroom, and this is a great visual tool. However, many teachers whom we asked also like to have a variety of timers at their fingertips.

  • Egg timers are a great visual timer that provides a bit of excitement.
  • Similarly, stopwatches are brilliant for team games and to time the length of a conversation or response.

Timers

Of course most of them have started using mobile phone for timers and stopwatches, depending upon the school rules to permit mobile phones inside a classroom. However, the conventional ones still hold it’s place and a sense of excitement.

A pack or two of Post-it notes

Who doesn’t love a post-it note? As well as being useful for keywords and definition match-up games, post-its can be used for spur of the moment games like “who am I?” (also known as the post-it note on the forehead game). They are also useful for fillers such as ‘three truths and a lie’, ‘on the board’, ‘fill the gap’ tasks and so on.

Post-it

Having a pack on hand may seem like a small resource, but many teachers recommended them to us when asked for their recommendations for top resources.

Give me a fish, and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish, and I eat for a lifetime.

Visual aids

These will vary based on your school ethos, the age you teach and the ability of your students. Some visuals may be useful on the board all year, such as classroom phrases in English. Others such as maps and photos may be items you bring to the class for a day or a week based on what you are learning.

Visual aids are essential as they appeal to different type of learners and also provide a great starting point or way of sparking interest and starting a discussion.

Visual Aids

They may also be items related to your area of study. They may include maps, photos, magazine articles, adverts, newspaper headlines, reproductions of artwork. Food items are always popular (always check for allergies and with your school director first) as well as household items related to study such as toothbrush, soap and so on for daily routine or clothing items for learning about what we wear!

Lessons involving these kinds of items and related activities are usually fun and remembered fondly by students! 

So to conclude, there you have it- our list of items and resources that we believe are tried and tested and will jazz up your ESL classroom!

Although it isn’t essential to have all these on hand all the time there is a lot to be said for keeping classes varied and therefore maintaining student’s interest. Using a range of resources and changing them up now and then keeps things different and avoids falling into too much of a routine which can lead to boredom.

Alongside this, remembering that every classroom will have students with different learning styles and different needs will allow you to cater to everyone while not losing the focus of your lesson as well as ensuring everyone has fun and makes progress.

Once you have your set of top resources ready, you can keep them in a box and store them in your classroom where they will be at your fingertips whenever you need them. We hope that you can incorporate some of our favourites into your ESL classroom and wish you luck, whether you’re a long-standing teacher or are just starting.

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This article was published on June 29, 2020.

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