Skip to content

5 essentials to pack for teaching English abroad


Ensure a smooth and successful journey by packing these five essential items in your suitcase!

Once you have completed your TEFL qualification, and booked your plane ticket, it’s time to start thinking about what you should pack.

But with so many things to take with you for your new TEFL job, what do you prioritise?

Read on to find our essential list of what to pack for teaching English abroad – you’ll be glad you did when you sit down to get organised.

1. Multimedia

Multimedia in the classroom has come into a world of its own.

Using English-speaking videos, music, podcasts, and radio stations that work in your new corner of the world is an exciting and interesting way to engage learners and expose them to the English language with very minimal preparation.

Most instances of multimedia can be accessed online and you can find examples that fit practically any theme – giving you plenty to work with.

The only exception is some photographs.

It is a good idea to get printed copies of typically English things, for example, afternoon tea, telephone boxes, English homes, and famous landmarks (think London Bridge, etc). You can find them online but having physical copies makes it easier to hand them out to multiple groups for short-burst or starter activities – an excellent way to initiate conversation and practice language.

2. Printed word

Printed word covers everything from books and magazines to takeaway leaflets, newspapers, flyers, and posters.

They are, of course, endlessly useful for teaching inputs, example pieces, and reading activities, no matter the topic.

But what makes an example of the printed word best to collect?

The answer is anything and everything – especially if you are going to live among a culture particularly different to our own.

You’ll probably be surprised what interests your learners, so collect widely and store them in plastic wallets by theme or topic and reading age.

3. Games

While you can make a lot of games to fit your specific themes or units, some general-use games will prove themselves useful more often than you would think, including:

  • Snakes and ladders – this game is great for directional language and has simple rules which make it easy to pick up.
  • Scrabble (child or adult versions) – as you would expect, Scrabble is a great way to build words and become more familiar with letters and spelling patterns. It can also be a great way to motivate more competitive students.
  • KLOO – a fun duo-language board game that allows some students to pick up 20-30 words per game. Just make sure you choose the version which has the native language of where you are moving and English.
  • Taboo –for slightly older learners, the Taboo board game is a description game designed to get the other team to guess the word you have on your card. The tricky bit – there are five words per card you can’t use! (There are online DIY templates of this game that you could add your own words to or simplify if needs be!)

4. Whiteboards and pens

Endlessly versatile, great for instant feedback and assessment, and perfect for quick or starter activities including practising letter formation or for learning tricky/ exception words – the whiteboard and pen are potentially the most useful thing in an EAL classroom.

You may be lucky enough to come to a fully stocked classroom, but if not, we fully recommend a class set of whiteboards and a bulk purchase of pens – you can even save money by making your own dusters by cutting up old, machine-washable clothes and tea towels.

Whiteboards are also perfect because they are non-permanent. While this may sound counter-intuitive, this lack of permanence is great for learners who are a little shy, as it puts less pressure on them and makes them more likely to engage.

Worried about keeping track of answers and work? Simply take a quick snap of the initialled whiteboard before the students pop them away and print with multiple images on one page – perfect for sticking into workbooks.

5. Specific personal supplies

Chances are, your school will have cupboards of equipment, but it can be handy to pack your own essential pieces, especially for the early days, or if you favour a particular item or art medium.

Maybe you’ve planned engaging activities with specific items like collage paper or even sparkly gel pens? The easiest way to be sure you can complete these tasks is to pack them yourselves – especially if they are small and light.

The same can be said for reward systems like personalised stampers, stickers, and even novelty items like special pens or paper.

Depending on the age of your students, earning a sticker or the chance to use a special pen can be great motivation! Your school may not have these items and ordering them from the UK can be expensive and time-consuming, so it’s best to pack them with you before you leave.

Get ready for your adventure with TEFL UK

That’s all the essentials!

We know you will be limited on space, but taking along these essentials can help make your transition to a foreign country slightly simpler and make your first few weeks of planning easier, as you will know you already have what you need.

For more top TEFL tips, keep an eye on our blog or email us with any questions – our TEFL team will get back to you as soon as they can.