ESL tips for teachers

So it’s almost Monday and you’re staring at scarily blank lessons plans for the week. Here are a few ideas to energize your class, add a little color to your lesson plans, and get your students speaking more English than you (and they) even thought they knew.

As an elementary school English teacher in Korea, I could not have lived without MES English, a one-stop shop for all your ESL needs. Not only do they have the best materials on the web, but they’re free. (Like what you see? They always take donations to keep their site running.)
On this site you can find fun animated flash cards for every possible topic you can teach, everything from adjectives to weather and everything between. After you print your flashcards out, you can also print along some corresponding worksheets that offer fill-in-the-blanks, crossword puzzles, word-finds (a.k.a. classroom gold), and more. And, most importantly (according to my elementary students), they have bingo cards for every set of vocabulary words. Check it out at

Boggles World ESL (Lanternfish)
Lanternfish, also known as Boggles World ESL, is also a heavy-hitter when it comes to free down-loadable ESL materials. This site not only offers elementary school exercises but also some wonderful adult learning material like shopping, banking, and other basic role plays. They offer some great business English and travel English worksheets perfect for adults looking to learn some basic English very quickly. Check it out here:

Enchanted Learning
This is a great site for those ESL teachers out there teaching a few immersion classes in science. As an immersion teacher, I often used these worksheets to go along with the elementary school students’ McGraw Hill science books. They were perfect. The site also has some good basic alphabet exercises for young learners. To get full access to the site, membership cost $20 and is worth every penny if this is something that fits your curriculum. Learn more about it here:


This is one of my favorite tools as a teacher for my more advanced elementary students. The site offers short animated educational videos starring Tim, a boy, and Moby, his beloved robot. Videos are broken into categories such as math, English, science, arts, and more. Membership, which allows full access, is expensive and my school wouldn’t pay for it. But you can do a 5-day free trial, so plan ahead and know which videos you want to use before you start your trial.

Dave’s ESL Idea Cookbook
Great for students of any age, this cookbook of ideas is a wealth of information supplied by ESL teachers around the world. You know it works because it’s for ESL teachers by ESL teachers. The list contains hundreds and hundreds of games to try out in your classroom. They are great for icebreakers, the last 10 minutes of class, or during those pesky “open classes” when the parents come for the day and want to hear their kids speak English. Get some ideas to spice up your classroom here.


  1. Bev Fine says:

    What a wonderful blog with great tips for ESL teachers! I want to let you know that BrainPOP has a brand new product: BrainPOP ESL, featuring Moby and his new best friend, Ben, to teach all four skills of English to beginning English learners. It's still in its beta phase, so it's FREE for this school year! Everyone should take advantage of that. Right now Level I is live, with new lessons added on a continuous basis. It's a comprehensive program and can be used alone, or as a supplement to materials you're using. Just go to and begin exploring and using it with your students. We hope you enjoy the new product, and we welcome any comments questions, comments or feedback.

    Beverly Fine
    Editor & Director of Outreach
    BrainPOP ESL


  2. Hi Beverly,
    This is great news–I always thought it would be fabulous if BrainPop offered some ESL lessons. These are perfect videos for the classroom.
    Especially good news since it's free for this year!

    Thanks for the news!
    Kimchi & Cornbread


  3. Reannon says:

    I also think is pretty good. Some of the game ideas on that site work pretty well, (especially the toilet paper one). It caters to ESL teachers in Japan but I'm sure the material would work for in Korean classrooms too.

    Thanks for this list…I'll have to give BrainPop a go…never heard of that one.


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