Teaching with Limited Resources? Make your own Visual Aids

Stickmen drawingsTeaching English as foreign language can be a tough task. Teachers don’t always have the necessary tools at their disposal, especially if teaching abroad in countries with fewer resources and at schools with limited materials. Thankfully, there are various methods to improve the experience of TEFL for both teachers and students, even when teaching English with limited resources.

By thinking outside the box and getting creative, you can make the lessons great fun as well as highly effective for learning, even in classrooms with limited resources. Read on for some ideas on making your own visual aids when teaching English with limited resources.


Teaching English with Limited Resources

One of the best ways to engage with English language students is to make EFL lessons visual.

This doesn’t always require lots of textbooks, white boards, art supplies, televisions and other advanced learning tools. Sometimes you can teach just as well with materials you have made yourself.

Using Visual Aids to Teach English

EFL teachers can help students learn more quickly by taking advantage of pen and paper to draw graphs or charts, maps and sketches, pictures of people or animals, stickmen drawings, objects, flags, symbols, icons and other useful images.

These can all help to make a lesson more interesting and give life to the words you are teaching. In fact, it can be easy to present new words with just a pen and paper, through mime or just using objects found around the classroom.


Teaching English with limited resources is a challenge – but it can actually improve your teaching. The challenge forces you to come up with new ideas and move outside your comfort zone.

By thinking creatively, you often end up interacting more with the students in order to forge a link between your home-made visual aids and the grammar or vocabulary point you are teaching.

One good idea is to keep old English magazines to use in EFL lessons. You can can cut pictures out and create a story board for your students to write or give a verbal description of each picture.

Perhaps a first-person narration would be most effective, speaking as if the student were the protagonist of the story.

Magazines can also be useful for creating word-based story boards or mix and match stories. You could cut out words and sentences from a story and give them to students in the class to create their own new story.

Students can take it in turns to lay down a new word or phrases and form their own paragraphs.


Making Your Own Visual Aids to Teach English

Train timetables and bus schedules can also be excellent language learning aids, as can the clock on the wall or even your own watch.

You could ask students the departure and arrival times of different trains for a comprehension lesson or a listening exercise.

Clothing is also easy to use for vocabulary, so think about what you and your students are wearing to teach this vocabulary which, depending on the level of the students, could include fabric, texture and colour.

You could also discuss what clothing you would wear for different situations, from a business meeting to a wedding, a sports event or a dance.

teaching with limited resources - timetable

Visual learning might seem a difficult concept if an English language teacher is faced with a classroom without any of the usual aids. But it is here you can really let loose your creativity and come up with some fantastic new ideas to take your lesson to the next level.

Even if you only have half an hour to prepare a lesson, there are probably items to hand that you could use for visual aids. You could use the objects in the classroom, such as tables and chairs, the features of your face or emotions and characteristics, which can be displayed by acting.

Maybe you are a great actor but even if not, you have to let go of your dignity a little and let the students laugh at your miming skills and facial expressions!


The challenge of teaching English with limited resources will give you great experience. It will also give you confidence in your ability to pull together a useful lesson without all the usual props and resources.

Take advantage of anything in the EFL classroom to use as a teaching resource and don’t forget that your own drawing skills will be invaluable – so get practising!

Your Experiences with Limited Resources and Visual Aids

Do you have any tips for teaching EFL with limited resources and making your own visual aids?

Have you ever found yourself in a difficult situation without sufficient teaching resources? How did you cope?

Which basic resources do you find most useful for teaching a language class?

We would love to hear your stories about teaching with your own visual aids. Let us know your ideas and experiences in the comments box!


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