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Teaching Material - Ideas To Get You Started


This post is an extension of our previous one on teaching materials. In hindsight, it should have been written before that last one!

As the title states, today's post is aimed at teachers who are new to the field, and to help them get started on (developing) various teaching material. It may even provide some new ideas to veteran teachers.

Flashcards 1 (quick and simple): The bread and butter of all teaching material. At least A4 size is preferred. Construction paper can be purchased at the dollar store, or the school might provide some. Keep illustrations simple, and vocabulary legible to all learners in the classroom. A plain black marker would be your best bet.

Flashcards 2 (time consuming): use the internet, find pictures unrestricted by copyright, use your favourite software to put the image and vocabulary together, print, and laminate or paste onto construction paper.

Flashcards 3 (very time consuming): mini flashcard sets for group activities. It's best to go to the dollar store to purchase blank pre-cut cards to save some labour time. Like regular-sized flashcards, keep illustrations simple and writing legible. At least 6 sets would be needed per class / theme.

Flashcards 4 (easy but costly): buy premade sets sold in various book stores or online.They are good quality, bright and colourful however, you have no choice in choosing the vocabulary, and may cost anywhere from 20 to 80 bucks for a small pack of flashcards. For your information, the official flashcards and teacher guide sets for some textbooks are sold at around 300 bucks each!

Worksheets 1 (drills, language practice, etc): simply adding pictures will make a dull worksheet into something that can grab the learners' attention. Find out what the latest craze is, make references in the example sentences, and add pictures. Be careful of copyright infringement.

Worksheets 2 (crosswords, word searches): always add a secret message into these. Simple ones for example has learners putting together remaining letters and words to make a secret message. What we want is for them to practice English, while at the same time working towards a 'fun' goal upon completion of the worksheet.

Authentic material 1 (simple but hard to attain): for your teaching career, did you think about collecting stuff from your home country every time you went back during the holidays? Menus, catalogues, postcards, pamphlets, currency, sports equipment, unique things from your country, etc, all make a distinct addition for your classes. Give it a try, and I promise the students will be awed. Personal example, I brought in a kangaroo paw back scratcher to introduce my home country on day one of classes - it certainly left a deep impression.

Authentic material 2 (simple if you are tech-savvy): the internet is available to almost everyone in this day and age. Collect movie clips, news clips, radio reports, announcements, etc, and use them in class for practicing any of the 4 skills of English. An example for a collaborating and speaking activity could be a clip from a movie, turn off the volume, play it, and have the learners guess the dialogue. It can become a listening and writing activity when played with the volume on for a dictation activity. The options are endless!

This list is in no way complete. Just some ideas to get the ball rolling. Be sure to keeping it rolling.

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