Unsung heroes: Giving credit to the websites that saved my behind

An ESL teacher is only as good as their lessons, and their lessons are only as good as the materials and content they have. 

It is very easy to go “by the book” to plan a lesson. Do exercise 1, compare your answers in pairs, go through the answers as a class. Rinse and Repeat! However, the best ESL teacher will find practical activities and new and exciting ways to go through the content. I have always prided myself on being an unorthodox teacher – not playing it safe and definitely not sticking to the book. So today I am going to give credit where it is due: to the websites that allowed me to conduct classes that were different, fun and memorable. These guys are the unsung heroes of ESL lesson planning and teaching. 

ESL Brains

First off we have eslbrains.com. I ABSOLUTELY love this website. Created by a Polish couple in 2017, this website is fantastic for the 21st century teacher. All of their lessons have some sort of multimedia aspect, be it a YouTube video or TEDtalk. They have something for everyone. I love that they have lessons for different levels (although it’s best for upper-intermediate students and above) and they have a variety of topics. A quick search of the topics includes business English, technology, global issues, design and art and much more. 

They have free lessons and a subscription offer. Each lesson comes with interesting warm-up activities, great vocabulary and grammar exercises and always engaging discussion elements. 

Lesson Plan Digger 

Next one of my go-to websites is lessonplansdigger.com. This website is great for a variety of activities. I use it A LOT for grammar and speaking activities and for FCE/CAE and IELTS prep lessons. It has a lot to offer in terms of games, exercises and activities. It’s quite diverse, offering up plenty of materials for all levels. The best part about it: it’s FREE. 

They have just about everything a teacher could ask for: grammar, pronunciation, writing and much more. The lessons themselves are diverse in that the structure of the materials is different from lesson to lesson. Some are purely exercises, others are communicative based and others have a media aspect such as a video. 

Breakout English

The last website I want to shout out is breakoutenglish.com. This is my number one go-to resource for FCE/CAE and IELTS prep material. The materials can be used for other English lessons but, seriously, it is a gold mine for materials related to exam prep. From activities on key word transformation to PET (Preliminary English Test) speaking activities, you can find any and all resources for exam prep. 

What’s also great about this website is that they also offer a “how to” section with tips and tricks for the Cambridge and Trinity exams. They have great materials and a lot of practice activities for students to engage with. 

I am an energetic English teacher with a specialized education (Master’s degree in education from Durham University). Born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, I later studied in the USA and England, so I am very familiar with both American and British English. I have worked as an ESL teacher in Poland and Malta, and I know how to find an approach to students of different ages and temperaments, from shy teenagers to demanding company directors. I enjoy coaching and playing basketball and spending time with my (new) family!

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