Top 10 things to pack for your TEFL course

A frequently-asked question by those about to embark on a residential TEFL or TESOL course abroad is what they should put in their suitcases. Here is a checklist of things (in no particular order) that may come in handy at some stage of your TEFL adventure.

1)      A laptop, Netbook, tablet or small-size portable computer – Even though your TEFL school is likely to be equipped with personal computers accessible to trainees, such access will not be unlimited. An intensive residential TEFL course involves a good deal of written work (e.g. lesson plans, essays, worksheets and extra materials for your lessons…) and there may be times when computers are not available. Being able to continue work in your room after class or over the weekend will make you more independent, which in turn can only have a positive effect on your studies.

2)      Plug adapters – These will come in handy when travelling to a country which uses different electrical sockets to the ones in use in your own country. The internet is full of useful information on the type of adapter you need for each country. Check also if you will need an electrical or voltage converter for your appliances.

3)      Pictures and objects that remind you of home – They will help you overcome those moments when you feel homesick. Besides, you can find a more practical application for them and use them to personalize your lessons; students are generally very interested in learning about their teachers’ personal lives, their home countries and their cultures.  Personal objects will help engage your students and add a more humanistic dimension to your teaching, which again, can have a very positive impact on your performance as a training teacher.

4)       Medical or/and travel insurance – Medical costs can be high in case of illness or injury, so it is worth looking into an insurance plan that covers your stay abroad. This kind of insurance is often contracted in your own country.

5)      Education certificates and passport photos – The first may be necessary if you need to accredit you meet the course entry requirements or if you want to apply for a job once you have completed your TEFL course. In some countries you may need a copy of your birth certificate if you are applying for jobs. Passport photos may be required as part of your course enrolment procedure and will come in handy if, for example, you want to join the local library.

6)      A range of clothes – Beware of stereotypes. A country that’s world-famous for its fantastic weather may be wet and cold in certain parts and in certain seasons. If unsure, ask your school about weather conditions and appropriate clothes for teaching in that country; it may well be that jeans and tennis shoes are not acceptable and more formal attire is expected.

7)       An E-book reader – If you are keen on reading and are not happy about leaving your books behind, this is a good way of carrying all your favorite books with you. You will save space and travel light.

8)      A phrasebook, a bilingual dictionary, an up-to-date tour guide which includes a good map – These can be of great help if you want to make the most of your stay by learning about and integrating into the local culture.

9)      A grammar reference book – Getting to grips with English grammar can be a challenge for training teachers, especially native English language speakers! Having a good grammar reference book will help you plan your lessons and be better prepared to answer your students’ questions.

10)   Teaching materials – Often, when planning your lessons, you will need to supplement course book materials with your own. If you have any good teaching materials you have used previously, consider if you could use them in your teaching practice. If they will take up too much space, an alternative is online teaching resources. There are nowadays numerous websites (both free and fee-paying) where you will find all sorts of teacher resources, including lesson plans.

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