Not sure what to pack when teaching English abroad? Want to know exactly what to bring with you to make your life as an English teacher abroad easier? In this post, I’ll share 7 things to bring when teaching English Abroad.
I’ve taught in 6 different countries and always try to bring these essentials with me!
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Bring Books in English When Teaching English Abroad
First of all, if you plan on teaching in the classroom or giving private lessons, books in English are essential! Books written in English can be VERY expensive if you purchase them while already abroad.
Here are some things to consider:
- Size of the books – Will you be using them for large classrooms or tutoring? Will the students need to be able to see the words or just listen to the story?
- Theme of the books – Do you need books for themed units? I like to bring books about US holidays to share with my students. These are obviously nearly impossible to find while already abroad.
- How you’ll use the books – Do you want to teach rhyming? Do you want to connect to a science or art lesson? Will YOU be reading the books or will YOUR STUDENTS?
- How many you plan on bringing – Books are HEAVY! So plan carefully how many you want to bring and make sure to bring ones you’ll actually use!
Traveling light? You can make your own books on Canva Pro using thousands of free clip art, photos, design elements and more! Use this link to try Canva Pro for FREE for 1 month. I’ll be posting a video soon on exactly how you can do this.
Bring Props and Puppets When Teaching English Abroad
Another great way to add some excitement into your lessons is to bring props for the classroom. I find props like puppets, costume pieces and symbols to be ESSENTIAL when teaching children.
Here are some of my favorite ways to use props:
- Puppets – I like to tell stories using puppets. I also like to have a “class buddy” puppet that helps me with behavior management. For example, when the kids are too noisy or aren’t listening, the “buddy” is too scared to come out and help. This helps the kids relax because they really look forward to what the “buddy” has to say. I also allow one child to be in charge of the “buddy” during class each week as a special treat. The kids definitely look forward to their week! Check out these puppets for ideas.
- Costume pieces – Costume pieces are great for imaginative play and making stories, lessons or even units come to life. Wands, fun pointers, headbands, and fun glasses are some of my favorites. Here are some costume piece ideas.
- Symbols – Symbols are another great tool to use. I like to use cloud/sun/rain/snow symbols on popsicle sticks when teaching about the weather. I use emojis to help my students understand different concepts, create the right mood for dialogues and even for role plays like going to the doctor. You can print out your own symbols easily using Canva Pro.
Bring Photos or Posters from Your Country or State When Teaching English Abroad
My students are always curious about my country and state. I like to bring images that I can easily share with them to help build rapport. These are also great when practicing comparatives or vocabulary.
Here are some ideas for photos/posters to bring:
- Famous landmarks – Include a mix of famous landmarks and natural wonders as well as places important to your local area. I’m from Wisconsin and I love sharing the fake Statue of Liberty stuck in our frozen lake. The students absolutely go crazy for how cold it looks!
- Popular cuisine – What do restaurants look like in your country or state? What about the actual meals? These are great conversation starters for students – would you like to try New York pizza? What about pumpkin pie?
- Things your state/area is known for – What is the pride and joy of your city, town or village? In Wisconsin we wear Cheesehead hats – those are always great conversation starters!
- Sports teams in your area – Students are often aware of NBA teams, Olympic athletes and more. Mascots are also a great way to talk about where you’re from.
- Wildlife – What creatures are walking around your neck of the woods? Students love to learn about animals. Students are always surprised by the Wisconsin state animal – the badger!
Bring Flashcards When Teaching English Abroad
Flashcards are LIFE SAVERS! There are so many great games you can play with them and they are readily available. I like to get mine at the Target $1 Spot or online from Amazon.
Here are some ideas for using flashcards in the classroom:
- What is missing? Memory Game – Line up several flashcards and encourage students to say each word. Flip them over (scramble them if you like) and see how many students can remember.
- Alphabet flashcards for Scattergories – I like to play Scattergories with my students. I have one student at a time pick out a letter flashcard and read it to the class.
- Travel flashcard activities – Grab some flag, country, or famous monument flashcards. Give a few to each group. Have students create a travel guide about one of the places, a travel TV show script or brochure for a hotel. You can also have students plan a world trip, coming up with how they will travel between each place and even set up a budget.
Traveling light? Make your own flashcards on Canva Pro! There are so many great Elements (clip art) to create the perfect flashcards for any unit. Try it for 1 month for FREE.
Bring Prizes When Teaching English Abroad
When I taught preschool and elementary learners abroad, prizes were essential to keeping them interested and motivated. The Target $1 Spot is a great place for this as well as other discount stores. At one point I even inherited a former teacher’s prize box – full of McDonald’s Happy Meal toys!
If you aren’t interested in carrying a bunch of stuff with you when teaching English abroad, then stickers are a great alternative.
Here are some ideas of prizes you might like to bring when teaching English abroad:
- Small toys
- Small notebooks or sticky notes
- Necklaces or bracelets
- Colorful crayons or markers
- Fun erasers
Bring Wall Charts When Teaching English Abroad
If you are an actual teacher (for example, at an International School) with your own classroom, I DEFINITELY recommend bringing wall charts (also called pocket charts). These are very difficult to find abroad and easily found in teaching supply stores in your country. You can also find wall charts online on Amazon.
Wall charts are great for practicing sight words, building sentences, calendars and more. I had my mom send me a few from the US when I taught at an International School in Spain!
Bring Photos of Your Family and Friends When Teaching English Abroad
Finally, I recommend bringing some photos of your family and friends when working as an English teacher abroad. Students are curious and love to hear about your relatives, friends and especially pets!
If you don’t want to bring physical photos, you can always make a PowerPoint presentation or Canva Pro slideshow or video. You can incorporate these photos into lessons about the family, celebrations, clothing and more.
Have you taught abroad before? What items do you recommend bringing? Leave a comment down below!
For more teach abroad tips, check out these posts:
How to get started teaching English abroad
10 things no one tells you about teaching abroad