Home / TEFL Classroom Resources: Must-Have Materials for Effective Teaching

Every TEFL teacher will have their own preferred materials that they consider key for effective teaching in their classroom. As you gain experience, this collection will probably grow, and advice will be passed on to new teachers! Collaborating is always useful as you can learn new things and find out what other teachers have found to be useful for them. If you’re a newly qualified teacher, recommendations will be key when wanting to collect useful materials. 

Having some must-have materials and tools ready to go when you get into the classroom can help you feel more prepared to teach. It also saves time as you don’t need to search for new materials every time you teach the same grammar point or want to play the same game. It’s always good to stay up-to-date and not rely on the same materials all the time, but having trusted materials to turn to will make your lesson planning easier.



Grammar is a key part of TEFL teaching and each teacher will have their own sites or books they rely on for explanations or exercises for their learners. A highly recommended grammar book is the series by Raymond Murphy: English Grammar in Use. There are a few levels but if you only get one, then the red, elementary book is the one to get! This book features very clear explanations of grammar, both for students and teachers, as well as a range of exercises to practice. Even for the teacher, grammar doesn’t need to be complicated. If you follow clear explanations, you will understand the grammar point more and be more effective when teaching it.

Remember that your school will provide you with the key coursebooks for your classes so you don’t need to worry about buying a range of books – this adds to your packing list! There might be some that you really like that you’ll want your own copy of, but in general it’s more useful to get a grammar book or a book wtih activity ideas in, rather than books that your school will give you. You might buy some coursebooks and find that you don’t use them as your school has decided to use others!

As we move into the digital age, having PDF copies of books are even more useful. This way you can collect more for your resources! Sharing your PDFs with other teachers is also very helpful and is a great way to expand your list. You can start a list on Google Drive and share this with others.

classroom students


Having some go-to books for activity ideas will help save you time when planning and will also help you add some more variety to your classroom. Books specialising in activities for communicative tasks or specifically for young learners will be come in very handy! These types of books will be very valuable when you are lesson planning.

Here are some you can try!

101 ESL activities for Kids by (Bolen and Smith)

Activities for very young learners (Puchta and Elliott )

Speaking games (photocopiable activities) (Jason Anderson)

ESL Conversation book for adults (Mark Roche)

There is an endless list of books for you can get for ideas. Take a look at the reviews before you buy anything and pay attention to any that your fellow teachers recommend! Once you find one you like, it can be useful for you for years to come in your teaching career! 

Your school might also provide their staff with some general teaching books for grammar or game ideas. Take a look through any library collection they have and utilise them if you find them useful. You might then want to get your own copy if you really like something you find!


Bookmark your favourite websites for materials or games, whether you teach in the classroom or online. This will save you a lot of time googling something you’ve probably already googled ten times before. Here are some useful sites for newly qualified teachers!

Teach-this.com – this is a great website with communicative speaking activities. It also features interactive activities for use in the online classroom. If you want to get your students speaking, this is the site to go to! It organises its activities according to grammar, vocabulary or function.

ISLcollective.com – this is a very useful site if you teach young learners. It features a range of worksheets about every topic you can imagine for children. They are bright and colourful and have fun activities! You usually have to sign up to download them, but the membership is free so it’s worth doing.

Busyteacher.com – another website where you can find lots of worksheets for different grammar and vocabulary. Save any useful worksheets in a folder so you don’t download then again and again!

Tim’s English page – a personal blog (you guessed it, by Tim) who has provided a range of lessons from exam to conversation. There are some great ideas and resources on this site for lesson plans.

Breakingnewsenglish.com – this is a great site if you are interested in using more authentic materials with your students. It features news stories for learners with a variety of comprehension tasks that accompany them. It’s a good website also for students to practise more at home so you can use it as homework.

Linguahouse – this website has lots of lesson plans for all levels, including Business English! The plans come with very nice worksheets and are available in colour. It is a subscription site if you want access to everything but there are plenty of free ones to use also!


Themed worksheets

You will probably do themed lessons in your classroom such as for Christmas or Halloween if you work in a language school with children. Each year teachers go on the hunt for fun activities such as wordsearches, quizzes or pictures that can be used for cards. When you first do this, save a copy of them so you can easily use them for the next year (as long as it’s a different class of course!). Share these with your fellow teachers and they will greatly appreciate it!

classroom work

Ice breaker games

Every year you will get new classes and a whole new bunch of students to teach! The first class is usually to break the ice and get to know your students, and let them get to know their new teacher too! It’s good to save a list of ice breaker games you can use in this first class.

These can include some classics such as “two truths and a lie” or a “find someone who”. However, it’s important to remember that your students might have attended a few classes before with different teachers. This means that they will already know the classics and will find them a bit boring! It’s good to shake things up and have some new ideas on your list:

Question bingo: Each student creates a bingo square and adds some information into each section such as “chocolate” or “New York” and their partner asks them questions to correspond to the answer e.g “what was your favourite holiday?”. You can do this on the board first with your own information and have the students ask you questions.

Line up: This is good for young learners around 11-14 as it gets them moving. They need to line up in order of their birthdays or arrange themselves in groups (e.g those who were born in March). Ensure that they are speaking in English whilst doing this!

Present your partner: If you want a simpler ice breaker, you can simply have students interview a partner for 10 minutes and take notes. Then, they present their partner to the class or to another person. 

Report comments

In many schools, you are asked to write a small report at the end of the term or year. It can be difficult to think of something appropriate to say or even more so, if the comments need to be done in another language. Save a list of these prepared comments that can help give you inspiration. You don’t want to sound too robotic writing the reports, but looking at them can give you some ideas of the style you want to write in, or help you out if you’re not writing them in your own language.


If you’re teaching young learners, then each teacher normally likes to have some sort of object that they can pass around the classroom for games or answering questions. This could be a ball or even a stuffed toy. A class mascot is always nice for young learners to interact with!

Other key materials if you teach children might be to have some spare pens, pencils and colours. There is always someone who forgets their pencil case and it’s much easier if you have some on hand! Even adults forget a pen sometimes!

Personalising your classroom is a nice way for your students to get to know you. Bring something more personal that you can hang up or display. This might be a picture of your dog or your country’s flag! Students will engage in conversation with you about it and it’s a good icebreaker. 

Having some basic materials will give you a good start if you’re a newly qualfiied teacher and will help with some of the planning in the beginning, which usually takes more time. As you gain more experience, you will soon learn which materials work well for you and which you find the most useful. Every TEFL teacher has their preferred materials. Some of these will be used for many years to come, but remember that TEFL, like everything, is always changing so it’s good to stay updated and add something new from time to time!

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