Tools of the Trade: Top 5 Tools for TEFL Teachers

by Monika Salita

Top 5 Tools for TEFL Teachers

By Feen (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Before I headed off to the south of France to teach high school English, I read and read as much as I could to know what to pack and bring with me. Not just tee-shirts and sandals, but teaching materials too.

You may not be completely certain of what your teaching environment may look like, but hopefully this list of teaching tools will help you to prepare or think about a few key items to bring, in advance.

5. Whiteboard markers or blackboard chalk, and eraser:

I quickly learned that rather than relying on the availability of supplies in the classroom, many teachers bring their own markers or chalk to use when writing on the board at the front of the classroom. Having multiple colors of these writing instruments is beneficial when trying to make a point or differentiate things in writing or drawing. Don’t forget to bring a good board eraser while you’re at it.

4. General office supplies – Tape, stapler, notepad, paperclips, scissors, multi-color pens and pencils, carrying pouch:

A basic kit of supplies, including those just listed, stored away in a small carrying pouch is always beneficial to carry because you never know when lesson plans may change at a moment’s notice and having items on hand to help with crafting new lesson plans or activities can be a life saver.

3. Folders or notebooks:

Multi-color folders, one color per class/group, is a great way to organize content for each group of students being taught and also more easily reference content used for a certain group of students. You can even go as far as making all of level X classes be shades of red, level Y classes shades of yellow, and level Z classes shades of green, for example.

2. Intriguing books or magazines:

I really enjoy reading foreign newspapers and magazines when traveling and I think that, in the same respect, TEFL students can be really fascinated with seeing and reading books, newspapers or magazines of another culture. Discovering and discussing the similarities and differences of magazine content from one culture to another, for example, can be a great lesson plan, especially for higher-level students

1. Timer and lesson plan with activity time breakdown:

Be it a stopwatch, portable alarm clock, egg timer, or something similar, having a timing device in the classroom is great for helping to keep a lesson on track, especially if there is no clock in the classroom and you can’t look at your watch every few minutes. To go along with a timer, a lesson plan detailing the breakdown and use of time for that lesson will aid in knowing what will come next in the lesson and staying on track, all with a quick glance. This breakdown of time can be written out with timestamps or with minute increments as follows, for example:

9:00 – 9:05 (5 min): Roll call

9:05 – 9:10: Warm-up/Icebreaker activity (Highs & Lows, My Top X, etc.)

9:10 – 9:20: Discuss /review prior lesson

9:20 – 9:30: Introduce new teaching concept and lesson

9:30 – 9:45: Continue teaching lesson

And so on

I hope that, with a few ideas in mind and tools in hand, you feel more prepared for your TEFL teaching adventure!


I adored teaching English in beautiful Montpellier, France during the 2008-09 academic year. I am an avid learner and have finished two professional certificates in public relations and social media technologies.


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