ESL Teacher Tools

ESL tools should enhance a student's interest and comprehension.
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Knowing English and how to teach it is only the beginning for an English as a Second Language teacher. You also need the right tools. Some teachers are known for the heavy load of stuff they drag around every day. However, books and papers are only a small part of an ESL teacher's toolbox.

Authentic Materials

Authentic materials are the stuff of everyday life and an important part of teaching ESL classes. For beginning classrooms, start with yourself. For example, use your finger to point to your face to teach students how to say "nose," "cheek" or "mouth" in English. Use classroom objects to teach students how to say table, chair or desk, or demonstrate prepositions such as "on" by pointing to objects in the room. Bring in magazines and newspapers to share and pass around. Stuff your briefcase with grocery flyers and menus to help them order groceries and food. If you don't mind dragging around a heavy bag, bring in bottles and kitchen utensils to teach their names in English.


Many textbook series come with CDs of dialogs, pronunciation exercises and songs. In addition, the Internet has opened up a new world of access to ESL listening materials. For example, Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab provides different levels of listening quizzes that range from easy general listening quizzes to very difficult academic quizzes. The lab also provides 20-Minute ESL Vocabulary Lessons as well as Language Learning and Life Tips. If you want to teach a pop song and don't own the CD, find an online version, even if it's amateur singing on YouTube. Type up an exercise with most of the lyrics, but leave some of them out. Have students listen and complete the words before singing along.


Help your students understand English better through pictures in motion. In addition to textbook videos, try TV clips, movies and news videos from the Internet. You can also use DVDs from your home collection or the school or public library. These tools let students hear words in a visual context to increase their enjoyment and comprehension. Short bites are often easier to digest than a seven-course video meal. Try showing a few minutes of a movie each day to keep students wanting more. For another technique, show a video first without the sound and ask students to make up their own dialog, then play the real thing.


If you're short on ideas for fun, try Internet games and activities. Dave's ESL Cafe and The Internet TESL Journal website have dozens of ideas for games. Some games from the Internet TESL Journal include Taboo, Secret Code, Draw the Teacher, Fly Swat and various types of bingo. When ESL students play games, they can practice their English language skills in an enjoyable setting, which should increase their enthusiasm.

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