Essential-Items-for-Teaching-Abroad Essential-Items-for-Teaching-Abroad

Essential Items for Teaching Abroad: Don’t Forget These!

Congratulations! You’ve accepted a teaching position abroad, sorted out your accommodation, and booked your tickets. Now comes the crucial task of packing your bags. However, this is not your typical holiday. Teaching abroad demands careful consideration of what to bring along, but always remember the TEFLer’s golden rule: ‘Be bright and keep it light.’

Note: The tips below are general and applicable to any country in the world. However, if you are going somewhere specific, you might want to do some detailed research to decide what to take with you, especially when it comes to clothing.

The essential packing list

Let’s start with the most obvious and yet most important items:

  • These might seem superfluous to mention, but you won’t be able to go anywhere or do much without your tickets/boarding passes, and your documents – from your passport/ID card to your school/university/TEFL certificate. A good idea is to scan them and keep an electronic copy on cloud storage platforms, such as Google Drive and Dropbox, and a USB stick. This can be extremely useful in case the original copies are lost or damaged.
  • It’s hard to imagine life without technology, so your electronic equipment becomes essential – not only for work. Remember to take the respective chargers and one or two plug adaptors with your smartphone and laptop. Get one before you leave your country. When you arrive at your destination, everything will be unfamiliar and slightly overwhelming – looking to buy an adaptor in a foreign language is additional unnecessary stress.

If you are an avid reader or use book extracts for your lessons, you could invest in a Kindle or an e-book. This is by no means an essential item, but it can be very useful. It’s a convenient and inexpensive way to access many books, even in countries where books in English are hard to find.

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Despite all the new adventures, you might feel lonely at times. To avoid feeling homesick, remember to bring a few items from home:

  • Photos of your loved ones and some small items that remind you of home, like a small ornament or a teddy bear from your childhood, can help you feel cosy and comfortable in your new environment.
  • Who doesn’t have their go-to snacks when things get tough? You might not be able to find them in your new country, so don’t forget to pack your favourite biscuits, chocolates, or crisps. They’re ideal for when you need familiar flavours.

But don’t let the idea of feeling homesick bring you down: there’s a whole country out there for you to explore! To do this in style, you’ll need a guidebook and a phrasebook. Nowadays, it’s far too easy to rely on our smartphones to translate and to find our way around new places, but their batteries don’t last forever! A compact and well-organised guidebook gives you exactly the information you need at your fingertips. Similarly, a phrasebook should be your most treasured travel companion, especially where there’s no internet connection.

The TEFL teacher’s packing list

Yours isn’t your average trip; it’s a moving-abroad-to-teach-English kind of trip, and it’s long-term. There are a few items that a TEFL professional can’t leave behind, but please remember that what you need to take with you depends on the teaching context; some areas are better equipped than others. There are also other factors to consider, such as age, level, and socio-cultural background of your learners.

The basic teaching equipment involves:

  • Whiteboard markers. Most schools provide their teachers with markers of different colours, but it’s not always the case. It’s handy to carry some with you: blue, black, red, and green.
  • Blue tac and sellotape are ideal for an impromptu exhibition to showcase your students’ artwork or whenever some arts and crafts activity is required.
  • Post-it notes are also useful for activities and games, but they can also be more inclusive. Students can show a green post-it note if everything is clear, yellow if they have questions, or red if they need help. 
  • Paper clips are a must! They will help you keep your materials in order and are necessary to organise your handouts. Chances are that your school will have a stash of paper clips somewhere, but you’re unlikely to find them when you need them!

If you want to do TEFL like a pro, you should also pack:

  • A few sets of dice. They have multiple uses, not only for board games
  • Mini whiteboards. They are versatile, practical to use and easy to carry with you. 

Last but not least, don’t forget your well-being! In addition to your teaching essentials, a well-prepared TEFL teacher should always have a few items at hand to ensure that their day goes smoothly. 

  • A refillable water bottle is indispensable, especially in regions with warmer climates or limited access to water. 
  • Healthy snacks like nuts, fruits, or energy bars can increase your energy levels between meals after many hours of teaching. 
  • A compact umbrella or a lightweight raincoat is advisable, especially in countries where the weather is unpredictable. 
  • A small travel-sized first aid kit containing essentials like pain relievers, plasters, and antiseptic wipes can be a lifesaver while you’re on the go.
  • A small sewing kit – you never know when you might need to replace a button!

Ready, steady, pack!

Well done on your teaching adventure abroad! As you prepare to jet off to your new destination, remember that packing for teaching abroad is all about striking a balance between necessity and practicality, always keeping it light! While the tips provided here are applicable worldwide, it’s wise to do some research specific to your destination, especially regarding clothing and teaching equipment. Whether you’re heading to Taiwan or El Salvador, a taste of home will help ease the transition. With all the essentials to ensure a happy teaching experience while looking after your well-being, you’re all set for a life-changing teaching experience abroad!