South Korea is big on stationary, Thailand has candy treats, and Taiwan has got all the pens and markers you'll ever need. But as a teacher, there are some ESL school supplies that you can’t live without and unfortunately, are sometimes impossible to find once you move to Asia.
So, we surveyed ESL teachers all around Asia and here are the top 10 ESL classroom aids they wish they had brought with them!
UNO, Old Maid, and Go Fish
Kids learn so much more easily (and without protest) when games are involved. From the little ones all the way up to high school age, games like UNO can make learning colors, numbers, and directions so engaging! You can get bundle of games here.
2. Colored White Board Markers
Finding rainbow colored white board markers can be a tricky task. Sure, almost every country in Asia carries the standard black and blue markers- but not all carry markers to make your white board the center of attention every session.
3. Small Portable Speaker
Your phone is your friend! Songs are a great way for students to practice and learn English. Pick a song once a week or month (depending on the level), print out the lyrics, and at the end of class every day- practice the song together as it plays from your phone.
Stickers are magic! What a kid will do for a sticker is unbelievable. Use stickers as positive reinforcement for good behavior, or strike fear in your students’ eyes by threatening to take away their stickers. Power feels good.
5. Colorful Construction Paper
If you are an artsy teacher, then you will certainly feel the pain of teaching in a country with out your handy dandy construction stock. Arts and crafts is not the same when using plain old printer paper, now is it?
6. Colorful Popsicle Sticks
Pro Tip: When teaching a rowdy class of kids, have a reward system. On one half of a popsicle stick, write a fun activity like “story time”, “dance party”, or “free time”. Put all of these sticks in a jar with the activity out of sight. If the class has good behavior, they can look forward to pulling one of these fun activities out of the jar. This works on all ages!
7. Sticky Balls
There are so many creative English learning games that you can come up with that involve a sticky ball and a white board. My favorite: write spelling words on the white board, have a kid throw the ball and whatever word it lands on, the student must use it in a sentence.
8. Squeaky Mallet
Command order in the classroom with this useful ESL tool. Instead of raising your voice or running in circles trying to make you students sit down, just whack the table with this mallet. Even when you’re furious- it still looks pretty funny and the kids will certainly pay attention.
9. Scallop Scissors
Again, never underestimate how much use you’ll get out of unique arts and crafts tools. Especially, if your students or colleagues have never seen scissors like these- you’ll become the favorite pretty quickly.
10. Instant Coffee Packets
Okay okay, this isn’t exactly a tool that you use in the classroom. I guess it depends on how you look at it, though. Teaching hours are long and most of us teachers need a good ol’ pick-me-up to push on through. Keep instant coffee packs in your desk.
Come prepared and your classes will run smoother, your students will learn faster, and you will go home at the end of the day without having total drained your energy.
Remember, that whatever you purchase you are going to have to lug across the globe so grab the lightest items in weight and the ones with the most minimalist packaging for better packing!