10 essential suitcase items for TEFL teachers

By Erin Critchley
Guest blogger from i-to-i.com

10 essential suitcase items for TEFL teachers

By User:Mattes (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

So you’re going to teach English as a foreign language are you? Heard about the wonders of getting paid to teach and travel and want to be prepared? Maybe you’re about to board a plane to TEFL town and are squeezing and squashing the last of your prized possessions into your case…

Whatever stage of the journey you’re at it’s useful to bundle together a few items that are sure to come in handy when you’re in the classroom for real.

Hold the 20th pair of socks! Here are the top ten TEFL items every teacher should pack:

Pictures and Photographs

These are essential and really useful for a variety of lessons! Images are very versatile and can be used again and again which means more packing space for you- hurrah!

For example the below picture can be used for a variety of lessons including naming parts of the face, colours, family names, male/ female, body parts, items of clothing- the list goes on!

Colourful pens

It’s difficult to know how well equipped your school will be- some TEFL teachers are lucky enough to be met with a classroom stocked to the brim with stationary and others aren’t so lucky!

It’s always nice to have a few different pens when writing on the board or marking work. This will help differentiate topics, correct or incorrect answers and make things more interesting.

Who doesn’t love seeing their work adorned with a bright green tick after all!

A ball

Yes a ball!…or bean bag. These are great for warming up your lessons and encouraging participation. They can be used in catching and throwing games meaning every student is included!

Royal memorabilia

Some students are eager to learn about English culture as well as the language. Taking a few images or items related to Britain are a useful way of evoking interest. It’s a perfect opportunity to learn about different cultures and is often met with fascination!


Stickers are a great way to reward good work especially if you are teaching younger learners. They often come in large sheets and are very light and easy to transport. It will give your marking some personality and they’re likely to be met with smiling faces. Ahhh the power of a gold star!

Printouts and plans

It may be an idea to take a few printouts to use in lessons. If you’re not keen on taking a hard copy then why not bookmark some resources you can refer back to?

Free activities and lesson plans will help ease you into teaching and can be found on a number of sites and forums.


If you’re lucky enough to have the facilities and you’re taking your own laptop then including a few DVDs is a good idea. It’s a great way to allow your students to listen to spoken English and if they’re familiar with the characters or storyline then great!

Just make sure there’s no offensive material. The type of film you show the class can be tailored to their interests or age range too!


Chances are you’ll be taking your iPod anyway but remembering to upload a few classroom friendly tunes can work wonders! Who knows, you could even make your class a singing sensation like these Lady Ga Ga singers!


Most schools will expect you to dress in a smart manner. Guys think shirt and tie- girls think generous skirt lengths and high necklines. If the weather is hot it’s tempting to don shorts but it’s important to be respectful in a classroom environment! Take a few failsafe items with you – breathable shirts and linen trousers are advisable.

Food packaging

Ok so this one may be best left until you’re there! General household items and packages can be great when used as props. It’s a useful way to teach terminology. For example taking a drinks bottle can describe the action of drinking or can be placed around the classroom to teach prepositions.



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