Seven things ESL and TEFL teachers have to pay for

17:00 Amy 0 Comments

Teachers have to pay for stuff. Luckily, it's cheap.

Unless you're lucky, you won't be given anything much once you arrive at your new school. You will have to dish out some dollar to buy stuff to teach with, or make do without.

Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches
Photo from Ken Teegardin of

A computer

I would argue that every English teacher needs access to a computer to find invaluable teaching ideas and resources online, keep up with education research, plan lessons, create resources and connect to a projector with (and watch cat videos between classes, of course).

If you're lucky, your school will have projectors in all of the classrooms that you use. PowerPoint presentations (the interesting, visually stimulating kind) can make teaching a whole lot more efficient and can be used again and again. If you don't know how to make fantastic PowerPoint presentations; why not see what you can do by learning how, or download and edit existing presentations.

You'll probably have to buy a bunch of cables and cable-end-converters to hook up your computer to the audio and projection equipment, though!

Printing and photocopying

Some schools pay for this, and some don't. If your school printer spits out your carefully crafted worksheet like it's poison, guess who has to dash to the print shop and pay out of their own pocket. That's right; you.

I'm certainly guilty of over-printing sometimes, but I actually believe it's best to print as little as possible anyway, even if you're not the one paying for it. Your students (hopefully) have notebooks; have them write in there and project the work in front of them. I've been working at converting my worksheets into on-screen versions, which has been going down really well with my students.

Markers, pens, pencils, paper, staples, stamps, bluetack, folders and sticky notes

All that marking requires a steady stream of red ink, and your students will love your 'awesome work!' stamps. Those games where they run up and write stuff on the board? REGULARLY RUINED MARKERS BABY. Even if you use PowerPoint for almost everything, you'll be writing on the board pretty often. Want to give your students something that's more than two sides of a page? Better buy a stapler and some staplers. You'll be needing sticky notes and folders too if you plan to keep track of all those assignments, projects, notebooks and paperwork. Naturally, you'll be wanting a big sturdy pencil case to keep everything in.

My cost-cutting advice is again, to use your computer and projector if you can. Whiteboard markers last about five minutes and re-fill ink is expensive and messy. You don't really need a stamp; draw a smiley face instead.

A microphone

Not everyone wants to use a microphone, but sometimes teachers with huge class sizes need one. Even with the best voice projection it can be hard for the kids at the back to hear.


Laminated resources are durable - the kids can't easily rip them, or disintegrate them with their slobber, and you can keep them for years if there's enough room under your desk. Lamination is almost essential for many ESL games that involve the students handling flashcards. It isn't all that cheap, though. My advice is to use the projector to show them stuff.

Safe scissors

If you teach kindergarten and don't want them using normal scissors, you'll probably have to buy some. Try not to cry when you don't get all of them back at the end of the class.


Last but not least; you'll have to spend some money on your ESL Teacher Wardrobe. Shirts, trousers, skirts, dresses and shoes that fit well, are cool enough for the heat and modest enough for the Thai classroom. Oh, and remember to cover those sexy shoulders of yours!


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