The ABC of ELT

My ELT survival kit

As I prepare to ship out to Spain I was reminded of an old #eltchat where we talked about our essential teacher’s kit (that I actually wrote the blog summary for!)

It was a really interesting discussion on what we find vitally important and would want as our minimum for teaching somewhere.

There of course was the illusion to the fact that really all we need (should need?) is the students, us and perhaps some source of input (like a newspaper/book/audio/video) but I think my situation actually reflects it better.

I’m packing my bag to leave (as you read this probably) and there are books and items I can’t take but there have been some items that I have purposefully sort out [and bought] as I know they will be hard to come across or that they are just so useful. as such I’ve decided to blog what My essential teachers kit, or perhaps ELT survival kit is.


Perhaps it’s no suprise that I’ve included a computer in my essential kit. With this I can write up lesson plans. Contact students via email, find material online (picture, lesson ideas, text, videos, etc) so much of my teaching starts from a computer it’s a bit scary! I know I could work without one but it would be easier just to use a computer.


Of course to get materials from the computer to students a printer is pretty vital. Not all material mind, videos and audios can be played straight from a computer. However, for pictures, texts, and various activities using vocab cards, wordsearches etc printing off some peice of paper is very important…speaking of which


Paper is actually my most vital item. I always have some hand set print outs in classes for adapting a lesson on the fly. Having a interview sheet, survey form, writing paper or small pieces of paper to use for vocab cards are invaluable. They allow for more student input, can help extend classes that run short and are great for language that emerges.

Paper is also how I organise my thoughts, demonstrate a language point (if there is no whiteboard) write down reflections from a class. If I could only take one thing into a classroom it would be paper and a pen.


Okay it’s just paper with a slightly adhesive element but for some reason I use them all the time. Guessing games with nouns (or even verbs and adjectives) on the back, gallery walks round the classroom, arranging vocab on the classroom wall, guessing who wrote which, writing errors on different pos-its (with different colours for different types of mistakes) and more!


Really there just a brand of permanent marker but there is something very useful about their thinner tip than other markers. I always keep a selections of different colours to distinguish between different functions. For example, one colour to show the first part and the other the second part in a matching activity (very useful for conditionals where it could go either way and groups can’t decided which order is correct)

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Notepads (moleskin)

I love keeping a selection of notpads for reminding me of different things. This is a habbit my Father nearly forced upon me when I was a teenager to help combat my poor memory and organisation. I am so grateful as now it is a great way to reflect on teaching activities, write down ideas that occur when I’m out and about, remind me of work I need to do for students and organise the rest of my life too!

I prefer moleskins because they were Hemmingway’s choice… well actually because they are sturdier than many other brands, come in a variety of sizes and generally have a nice little pocket in the back to hold other items.

My favourite teacher’s books.

There are of course a couple of teachers books that I take anywhere and have bought over the years. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that they are very small and compact and so favour their portability (though in the future with ebooks this might not be completely true)

700 classroom activities

A great source of activities to focus on different language points, though not always set within the same context as other materials you have. I still find this book a great source of inspiration when I have no ideas for a topic and it often spurs on other ideas on the same topic.

Teaching unplugged (aka the Dogme bible?)

I bought this book last summer and it has been a great source of interest to use and incorporate into my teaching. Although the section on stimulating discussion may seam like the most valuable (in terms of going anywhere and just starting a lesson) I frequently find that I take more from the sections on focusing on the form and work between the lessons (especially making sure that language that emerges…re-emerges and is reused.)

What’s in your survival kit? What would you take with you if you were moving to a new school.

P.S. The links above are affiliate links. If you purchase something from them then I will receive a small commission.

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

2 Replies

  1. Great post for the new academic year! 700 Classroom Activities has come with me to Braga, and my DOS Beverly showed me a book called something like 500 Activities for the Primary Classroom, which I’m sure I’ll be consulting a lot this year. She thought very highly of your presentation at the Young Learners Conference.

    1. Great minds and all that! Sounds like an interesting (and useful book!) [500 activities for the primary classroom] I might have to check that out myself! Thank her for her kind words 🙂

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