Top 5 ESL classroom tools to get you out of teaching jams

Classroom tools for teachers

International and online ESL teachers have to be adaptable. 
 
No matter where in the world you teach or which company you work for, you’ll have to adapt the best education tools and resources available to suit your teaching style.
 
But what if your resources are lacking? 
 
What if the school or company where you’re teaching hasn’t given you a clear direction for what to teach the students?
 
Here’s a list of classroom tools that can be easily packed, adapted to all student levels and used by ESL teachers during your next teaching jam.

1. Flashcards

Flashcards are incredible classroom tools for teachers that can be adapted to suit any level and target language.
 
It is especially useful to carry around a set of verb flashcards for words like ​run, write, open, close, jump, etc., ​ with funny images on each card to represent the action. 
 
These visual aids are very useful when teaching younger learners.
 
Make a fun game out of it and have your students make sentences with the verbs. 
 
For example, start to incorporate Simon Says games in your lessons! 
 
After a few rounds of repetition, your students will quickly start to understand basic classroom commands like, “​Open your book.” ​
 
The best part is that the cards can also be adapted to work with more advanced students. 
 
You can ask your older students to make a list of synonyms!

2. Music

Start to incorporate fun music as one of your classroom aids. 
 
You can easily use YouTube or a similar online resource to make a playlist of ESL songs for kids
 
Pull up the playlist during your next virtual class, play a song and imagine all of the possible teaching activities that can come out of it.
 
Lyrics Training is also a great tool that will allow students to view a music video and type out the lyrics according to what they hear. 
 
Remember to use simpler, slower songs and get your younger students to listen for a keyword or two. 
 
See who can hear the word first! 
 
You can have your more advanced students pick out words from songs sung in different English accents.
 
Students love to listen to new music, especially if it’s upbeat and easy to understand. 

3. Movies

We are not saying you should watch The Shawshank Redemption, ​but showing short movie clips focusing on key grammar points can be valuable classroom aids for any ESL class.
 
Again, if you don’t have movies immediately available to you, YouTube will be your best friend. 
 
Do a little research and make playlists you can easily pull up during class.
 
Different playlists can focus on different grammar points, accents, idioms, songs, or they might simply add a beautiful visual to the children’s counting activity.

4. Books and newspapers

Younger students will be intrigued by English storybooks, especially if they have big and bright illustrations.
 
In many cases, the illustration styles may differ from what students would usually see in their own storybooks.
 
For older students, even a newspaper from your hometown can be put to great use. 
 
Lower level students can work with the newspaper’s pictures and captions, while more advanced students can search for different uses of a verb or idiom, develop a story of their own, or simply discuss a newsworthy issue.
 
Another fun idea is to have your students create their own characters and stories using the Pixton app. 

5. Photo slide-show presentations

The use of photo slide presentations is a great way to get your students to visualize the content you are teaching. 
 
As you’ll likely be relatively unfamiliar with the culture of the country where you’ll be teaching, it’s just as likely that students will be unfamiliar with your background. 
 
Bring some pictures that remind you of home and show these in class! 
 
Share with the students a little bit more about you and where you’re from to create a greater sense of connection.
 
Pictures can be used at any time and can be applied to almost any level of language or grammatical understanding.
 
As one activity example, younger students can count items in the pictures, while older students can develop a story based on the photos.

Bonus: FluentU

You can now use music videos, musical numbers, movie trailers, commercial jingles and turn them into personalized language learning lessons with FluentU.  
 
There are hundreds of entertaining videos that your students can watch. 
 
All captions are subtitled and translated into the language of your choice! 
 
Add some more visual fun to your grammar lessons with content that is approachable, fun and easy to digest. 

Creating a more dynamic and fun environment. 

Don’t underestimate the value of using various props and digital tools for the classroom when it comes to teaching students a new language.  
 
Before your next online class, prepare the classroom aids mentioned in this list to ensure you add a sparkle to your lessons and are better equipped to handle any stressful teaching situation.