26th December 2017

5 essential websites that every English teacher needs

By Eve Conway

As a Cert TESOL tutor, I work with trainee teachers every day who upon finishing the course go out to teach in the real world. One of the biggest challenges facing new teachers in particular is planning. Whilst experienced teachers may have a bank of readily available lesson planning ideas which they can select from quickly and efficiently according to their lesson context and aims, new teachers do not have this and often have to look to other sources for inspiration.

Everybody knows that the internet provides a whole host of materials that are available at your fingertips, however it does take some practice distinguishing the websites with genuinely good materials from the ones that offer mediocre or downright badly designed ones. Today I am going to share 5 of what I consider to be the ‘must-see’ websites for a new teacher.

BBC Learning English

Good for: engaging audios, promoting learner study outside the classroom.

The sheer quantity of materials available here is impressive. You can find videos and podcasts which support vocabulary learning, pronunciation and of course listening skills. My personal favourite is the BBC Words in the News which are current BBC news reports which are accompanied by a tapescript and exercises. This sounds relatively simple but actually it can be a great springboard for class discussions on current affairs in English and the addition of the tape script means that if learners listen at home and do not understand, they can read and check themselves rather than relying on a teacher to explain thus helping to develop learner autonomy. 

One Stop English

Good for: Business English, ESP and other specialist areas such as CLIL.

On this webpage by Macmillan Education, you will find lesson plans and ideas for activities and printed materials. Some of the resources are hidden behind a paywall for teachers who have subscribed but there is a decent amount of free stuff too. What I particularly liked about this website was that there are plenty of specialized materials available such as CLIL and ESP. Just a quick look shows that they have materials and lesson plans for English for the Finance and Banking Sector, English for nurses, English for the legal sector and many others. This could be useful if you find yourself teaching learners from a specific vocational field and you are finding it difficult to find materials.

Lesson Stream

Good for: authenticity and general fun.

Everybody uses YouTube in their classes nowadays but Jamie Keddie takes it to a new level with his page Lesson Stream. Lessons are organized by level, learner type, language aim, topic or classroom time and are all based on authentic YouTube videos. Ever wondered how to try translation in the classroom? Try this humorous lesson on procrastination to focus learners on the differences between phrasal verb use in English and their equivalent use in the mother tongue. Do you want your learners to experience what it is like to order in a café in the UK? Have a look at ‘The Sweetest Waitress’ lesson where learners get to see a real, English pie shop and hear about the wares on sale. What I like most about this site is that most of the materials are just general good fun and when learners are engaged they are receptive to learning.

British Council Learn EnglishLearn English Kids / Learn English Teens

Good for: keeping up to date with teaching methodology and really just a good all-round resources package.

The British Council actually has four websites which are useful for teachers, Learn English, Learn English Kids, Learn English Teens and Teaching English. I recommend taking a look at the Teaching English page if you would like to refresh your knowledge on some of the latest thoughts about methods and approaches in the EFL industry but make sure to also take a look at the other sites. I particularly found Learn English Kids to be an invaluable source of songs and stories for young learners. I used to make it a part of my primary classroom routine and during the final 5 minutes of the lesson, learners would always get a story from Learn English Kids which was a great calming way to finish the lesson and allowed them to focus on listening for pleasure rather than for any other reason.


Good for: Young learner classes, Early Years classes, CLIL lessons, thematic learning, story-related materials.

TES.com is mainly a website for L1 English-speaking students, as opposed to second language learners of English and materials are arranged around subjects, i.e. maths or science. This means that it is a fantastic resource for CLIL lessons or even just more thematic-based lessons which is what we tend to do with young learners anyway. Materials are contributed by other teachers, so do check them first and make sure that they fit in with your lesson aims, but I have found and used some great resources by doing a very quick search of some of the classroom story books that formed the basis of my schemes of work such as ‘Mr Men’ or The Tiger who Came to Tea. Try searching your Young Learners’ favourite story book and see which resources are available.

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Eve Conway is our TYLEC and CertTESOL trainer. She has worked in Spain, Vietnam and Mexico as both a teacher and TYLEC trainer as well as having worked on shorter projects in the UK, Italy, Azerbaijan and Peru. She worked for over 6 years for the British Council, where she discovered a love for working with children, particularly Early Years learners.  Eve holds a bachelor’s degree in English language as well as an MA in Applied Linguistics and a Trinity DipTESOL. Having always loved languages, she is a fluent Spanish speaker and is keen to learn more languages.  Eve is a keen conference speaker and occasional writer for ELT magazines and publications.