TEFL Classroom Resources: Must-Have Materials for Effective Teaching

Whether you teach English online or travel to the far-flung corners of the world to teach English in a classroom, you must have the right resources. Nothing is worse than being unprepared and finding yourself with a class of students eagerly expecting more than you have prepared. Thankfully, hundreds have gone before you, and we can share some of the best TEFL classroom resources that will enable you to deliver practical English lessons online or in person.

Along with technology, resources have significantly evolved over the years, and now you can use multimedia to deliver lessons. However, do not underestimate the power of some of the older-style practical resources that have been used in classrooms worldwide for many years. Creating your bag of tricks means you will have useful and online resources such as videos, interactive exercises, and virtual simulations. 

Part of your TEFL course will focus on creating and finding your resources; sometimes, there is little point in reinventing the wheel. You are more than welcome to use resources created by other teachers. Joining online groups on social media platforms will help you locate such resources. The main thing to focus on every time is the relevance of the content and how engaging it will be for the age group of students you are working with.

Teacher leaning on a table with several school kids sat around the table working

So, What Materials Do You Need?

A lot will come down to the location of your classroom. If you travel halfway around the world, you do not want to carry many heavy resources. One of the simplest things you can do is create a set of flashcards. Flashcards do not take up much space in your luggage but are hugely practical when teaching various words and phrases. They are perfect for visual learners and simple to create on topic. 


Interactive whiteboards are a great resource, but of course, this requires you to be in a classroom with that type of technology installed. In more remote locations, this may not be possible. Some teachers favour the use of individual whiteboards. Costing just a couple of pounds each or less, students can write their answers and then later erase them, which could be seen as environmentally friendly and helpful if you have a minimal budget for providing equipment in your classroom.

Authentic Texts

Whether you use the Internet or have printed pages, authentic texts are perfect for practising language skills and reading comprehension.

Grammar Books

Grammar books are a great way to formalise learning in one location per pupil. Create fun vocabulary games. You can also use listening comprehension to aid with correct grammar formation. Pronunciation guides are helpful when it comes to spoken language. You will find plenty of activities and exercises on various educational websites. The following category we will examine is

Online Platforms and Resources 

This is one of those cases where reinventing the wheel is pointless. There are so many excellent online materials available for TEFL teachers that it is easy to support your lesson planning with interactive platforms that include activities and games to engage your students. There are plenty of sites from very early years right up until adult education that will help you create a very engaging learning environment.

A few suggestions for websites include.

Experienced teachers will tell you just how helpful these resources can be. However, these resources are not way out of lesson planning, and you do need to select appropriate supporting exercises to go with your specific lesson plans. It’s worth working your way through any activity you propose to give the children or adult learners in your class to make sure it does hit the mark and is suitable to back up what you are focusing on now. Resources tend to be very accessible, so even if you teach in a relatively poor area, you can access them via a classroom computer. If you’re teaching online, each student could access the portal using their mobile device and downloading the appropriate app.

Teaching in the classroom

Activities and Games

Of course, teaching is more than just standing at the front of the room delivering lectures. Students need plenty of time to practice and engage with others to improve their English language skills. Even if you are teaching English online, practical activities are still precious. In the classroom, you can divide your students into smaller groups and here are a few suggestions for engaging games and activities you can do with your class.

Role Playing 

Role-playing is a great way to practice spoken English language skills. It works with any age group or student, provided you target it right. Older students could book a reservation at a hotel, find train tickets or other things they may encounter. Younger children could role-play their favourite television programs.

Board Games

Seasoned English teachers will have a magic bag full of board games accumulated during their careers. Charity shops are a great place to find perfectly placed board games that can help students develop their grammar and vocabulary skills and have fun at the same time. Of course, Scrabble is one prominent game to try and locate in a charity shop or second-hand marketplace. This is a perfectly designed game for those looking to enhance their language skills.

Word Bingo

Making a game of word bingo is relatively straightforward, and again, you can target the complexity of words to match the age group and learning level of your classroom. It doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive; laminated paper is acceptable to create bingo cards, and then you call out a list of words that students have to match. Laminated paper is good because you can use your whiteboard pens, and it will wipe off afterwards, leaving the game ready to play again.


Some teachers prefer a more traditional classroom and will work with textbooks. Again, a lot of resources come down to budgetary constraints. If you are heading out to a rural location and are a young teacher, you certainly don’t want to spend your money on providing textbooks for your children. While they do have their place in the classroom, many other free ELL resources can be just as valuable. So, we will leave textbooks up to you to decide whether or not they will feature in your classroom.

Speaking and Listening Tools

As mentioned, role-play is a great way to get your students to work on their speaking and listening skills. To get them started. You can use resources such as video clips or audio recordings. As well as role-playing, you can look at debating when you have a more experienced English class. The resources are there to help you start the conversation, whether you choose to discuss the same topic as the video clip is showing or whether you decide to base your debate on something else.

Of course, your role as the teacher is to monitor the conversations and step in when pronunciation is not accurate, but you need to be sure to do so constructively and encouragingly. There are so many resources available in the form of podcasts, interviews and news articles that you can keep your lessons relevant and up-to-date, especially if you are teaching adult learners.

Literacy Resources 

Gathering literacy resources can also be very low-cost. Second-hand books, magazines and newspapers all provide interesting English for the students to digest and understand. You can focus the publications on the age group of your students and keep them relevant for older learners. Keep your eye on charity shops once more. You will also occasionally come across graded reading books and old dictionaries. These are invaluable and should form part of your teaching kit. Be wary when it comes to cartoon books, as these can be very hard to follow and understand with limited and unusual language.

Student Progress: Assessment and Evaluation 

Of course, whilst making learning fun is a great teaching strategy, you must also take care to be able to demonstrate student progress with evaluation and assessment tools. It’s important that you learn about each student and how they choose to learn so that you can correctly intervene and differentiate when needed. Traditionally, tests and quizzes are a great way to see how much your students have understood. Thinking back to your own school days, you will remember that orals formed an important component of language lessons, whether you choose to have your students speaking to you on a one-to-one basis or to each other while you monitor and evaluate.

Remember to embrace all types of learners and not exclude any. Some people find even the most basic tests or quizzes stressful and underperform. Project work is an excellent way of seeing what a student can do in their own time. You can also use self-assessment tools and invite peer evaluation.


Differentiation is a skill that every teacher needs to learn. It’s not specific to TEFL teachers but common to teachers of every subject. Not everyone learns the same. Some students are visual learners; some prefer to learn orally, while others are very much kinaesthetic and like to be able to see and touch things. The speed of learning is also different for each student, so it’s important that you learn how to differentiate your teaching materials.

Generally, this means having extended exercises on the back burner for those who are eager and capable while also differentiating and simplifying resources to cater to those who struggle a little more. Students from both ends of the spectrum can become bored and find the classroom a very unrewarding place. It is your job to create an arena of engagement and learning. It is also important that you do not make any student who is struggling to keep up feel that they are failing. Everyone learns better when they are encouraged and nurtured, no matter what their attainment level is.

The Physical Classroom 

Most of the resources that you bring to the table as a teacher are suitable for both online and physical classrooms. However, there are some advantages to having a physical classroom. If it is a dedicated classroom and not used for any other purpose, you can create wall displays and themes throughout the year. This helps with lesson planning as you are able to create activities that fit. So, for example, at Christmas, students can create Christmas decorations for the classroom. It is your job to weave in the use of English and ensure that learning is still a component. You can still use some filming, even if you are in a virtual classroom, but it certainly works better in a live environment.

The classroom wall is also a great place to display behaviour, expectations, and any disciplinary process you will follow. If you are using a virtual classroom, it is up to you to convey to students how the classroom behaviour rules work and what is expected of them when logged in and engaging in your lessons. It is the aim of every teacher to be well respected and liked; there will be times when a student will try their luck and play up. Calm and pre-planned management of any situation like this will benefit you. A combination of management techniques, engaging lessons, and a demeanour that students can relate to will minimise the risk of disruption in your classroom.

In Conclusion

It is an area that will be covered in your TEFL qualification because it is something that all teachers have to be able to deal with. If you are working for a school, you will be able to tap into their classroom expectations and behaviour management policies and have backup should anything go wrong. If you are self-employed or teaching English online, where there are fewer moderators around, you have to learn to deal with the situation on your own.


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