More ideas to help you overcome the problems of teaching with limited resources.

Photo of someone who looks like they're thinking of something, or trying to come up with an idea.

Source: Inti St Clair, Digital Vision

Label the room

Use the classroom and everything in it as a learning resource. On strips of paper write: door, window, teacher’s desk, board rubber etc. Hand out of the strips of paper to different students and ask them to fix the paper on the objects (with glue or anything appropriate or available). You can leave the labels around the classroom, so that students’ eyes will rest on them as they glance around the room and they will have plenty of opportunities to revise these words and be reminded of their meaning.

Create your own poster

Ready-made posters are expensive and not always easy to find. Students can create useful and decorative English posters for their own classroom. All you need are some large sheets of paper – the back of wallpaper or wrapping paper can be used. Any kinds of paints and colours can also be used.

Younger classes can create alphabet posters. Give a letter of the alphabet to all the children (you can just tell them what letter they have). It’s not a problem if there are more than 26 children, you can double up on letters. Each child must think of words that begin with the letter they have and on a piece of paper write their letter big and draw the things beginning with that letter. Collect them all together and fix onto a big piece of paper (in alphabetical order) and put up on a wall. If they have access to any magazines or newspapers they could collect pictures of things beginning with their letter and stick these on the poster too.

They can also make word family posters As children learn new words they draw a picture of the object next to the word and add to a poster of similar words. So all verbs can be collected together, all adjectives or all words about school, home and the countryside.

These posters will help children remember the words and be a source of pride as they create them themselves.

Older students can create Grammar posters. Some of my Venezuelan teenagers particularly enjoyed creating these. As students are presented new items of grammar, working in groups, they create posters to explain the grammar in away that is meaningful to them – it could be with sample sentences, a ‘rule’, mother tongue explanation or equivalent. They can decorate these posters and use them to help remember the grammar and how to use it.

No photocopier?

In fact teachers who have unlimited access to this handy machine often churn out worksheets unnecessarily. Rather than handing out 4 or 5 comprehension questions in a handout to students, try this. Dictate each question, but jumble up the words. For example:

away Peter you do why think ran? (Why do you think Peter ran away?).

This adds a number of extra layers to the activity and challenges children. First they have to listen carefully and transcribe the words they hear. Then with a partner they have to put the questions into the correct order – great for English question order practice and then deal with thinking about the answer to the question.

You have obviously got access to the internet, otherwise you would not be reading this. Do all your colleagues have similar access? Why not set up an idea sharing system in your teacher’s room? You could negotiate to use part of a notice board and agree that whenever anyone comes across a practical teaching idea, you pin the idea up.

Other methodology ideas for teaching classes with limited resources

Teenagers: Limited resources: Classroom set-up A

Teenagers: Limited resources: Classroom set-up B

Teenagers: Limited resources: Classroom set-up C

Teenagers: Limited resources: Moving around