Here is my list of top recommendations! I’ve made a (growing!) list of pages, books, and resources that I recommend for teaching, organization and motivation, so be sure to check back often!
Please note that this page contains affiliate links. This means that if you decide to purchase something from one of the links below, for some products I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you, to help me continue making free resources for my blog. Of course, I only recommend products that I have personally used and love! See the Policies page for more details.
ENGLISH TEACHING TOOLS
English File Textbooks – Just starting out as an English teacher? These are my go-to English teaching books for all levels (A1 – complete beginner to C2 – proficient). Amazon always has the best deals on these. Sometimes, you can even find ebooks, which are an amazing way to save trees (and not lug around a bunch of books if you tutor privately like I do). You can check out English File books from Amazon here. If you’re in the UK or Europe, please check out English File here.
English Central – This site has a ton of really great videos for ESL learners. Their monthly subscription is only $12 per month if you pay annually. Their free trial is 30 days long. In fact, you can even watch 2 videos per month for free without subscribing. If you subscribe though, it’ll save you a ton of time on lesson planning. The videos are sorted by level, have a wide range of topics and have fun post-listening activities like fill-in-the-gap vocabulary.
Crossword Weaver – I use this tool almost every week! It’s one of my favourite ways to make vocabulary lessons fun for students, especially younger ones. They love to design their own vocabulary clues on my computer in tutoring sessions. I let them choose the colours and fonts to design the puzzle according to their own style. Then I print it out and bring it to the next session and we see how many of their own clues they remember! The best way to buy it is bundled with the 1-2-3 Word Search Maker which easily builds word search puzzles your students will love.
iTunes Movies – While I’m usually a Netflix fan, I have to admit that it’s been super difficult lately to access the content I want. It all seems to be on US Netflix and I normally can’t find the movies I’m looking for. So,renting or buying films on iTunes has worked wonders for me. I love doing film studies with my tutoring students and English classes, and this is a great way to have high quality videos.
Glogster EDU – What’s a “glog”, you may ask? It’s like a blogging poster! How much fun is that? On Glogster’s site, you can create and share posters about a specific topic, adding notes, photos, clipart, videos, audio, and choosing from many themes. You can then tag the posters and search for others on the same theme. It’s a great way to get kids and teenagers to engage with novel study, literature or historical content.
Flickr – As a hobby photographer, I absolutely love Flickr. It’s only $2 per month to create unlimited albums (you can create 3 for free). They keep your file quality, too. Oh, and the slideshows are amazing and can be embedded into any blog post at a custom size. It’s a beautiful way to display your photos.
ENGLISH TEACHING WEBSITES
Inspirational English – Russie over at Inspirational English has an e-magazine and other resources you may want to check out.
ESL Expat – ESL Expat is an excellent resource for teachers looking for an English teaching job, or schools looking to post job ads. It also has a wide range of ESL activities and resources at your fingertips!
English Club – Grammar games and resources at English Club are great!
Tiny TEFL Teacher – Tiny TEFL teacher has games and flashcards that are fun for ESL students of all levels.
Breaking News English – Sean Banville’s site has real BBC news reports that he breaks down into seven levels of difficulty for ESL students. There are also mini-lesson plans to download, which I love!
Perfect English Grammar Seonaid’s grammar website has some very useful practice worksheets, organized by grammatical concept.
ORGANIZATION & BUSINESS TOOLS
I love organizing and budgeting for my teaching and tutoring needs! When you run your own business
SmarterQueue – Need to manage your social media posts for your blog or business? This is the best tool I’ve found, and the most affordable. It’s easy to use and lets you schedule posts ahead of time, and sends them out for you. It even lets you recycle the posts you love, in a way that looks sleek and personalized, not automated. Get your free 30 day trial here
Google Drive – I love Google Drive! It helps me keep my files organized, provides me with a ton of space (I do have the paid version, though) and makes tutoring online possible. I’ll be posting a video tutorial on this in a future blog post, so please stay tuned! (You can sign up at the end of this page to access free printables and keep updated).
When I ran my tutoring business full-time for a year, Freshbooks was my go-to invoicing software. It’s so easy to use, doesn’t require accounting knowledge and makes it easy for your customers to pay. They can pay by Paypal and Credit Card, and if they pay you cash, it’s super easy to record it. Then, you send your clients either a .pdf invoice or a link to an online version. You can even record your own time working on projects and connect that to your invoices for clients. It’s fully customizable so you can add your logo and choose your colours.I love how beautiful and organized it is! Check out Freshbooks’ free trial on the right.
I just discovered Quiqqa a few months ago – and wow! If any of you are struggling with reference management software (I’m talking to all you grad students and academics out there!), Quiqqa is your answer. It was designed by a Cambridge PhD student a few years ago, to address all the concerns he had with other, free reference managers. The best part is that it uses OCR software to let you search .pdfs, even ones that are “not searchable”. You can easily import all your references from your current reference manager, and Qiqqa will “OCR” each page so every word is searchable. You can highlight in multiple colours and “annotate” as you read. Then, run an annotation report on as few or as many articles as you like – and voila! – you only had to read the article once. You can try out Qiqqa here.
I discovered Ganttology in the first year of my PhD, and it is a great planning tool! Do you know what a Gantt chart is? It’s basically a project timeline that puts all of your projects and tasks on top of each other in layers, so you can see how the timelines interact together over the course of your project. It’s kind of like Microsoft Project, but smaller and more colourful. The first chart you create is free, too!
Carbonite – This is my absolute favourite technology product. It has saved me from losing my computer’s data – twice! Carbonite backs up your computer’s data to a secure location (which you can remote access anywhere) for only a few bucks a month. I’ll be writing a tutorial and making a video on this soon, so stay tuned! You can check out a free 15 day trial of Carbonite here (no credit card required).
No recommendations list from a blogger would be complete without a section on blogging! I absolutely love blogging. In fact, I’ve been blogging on a personal blog since 2006. After ten years of blogging for fun, I finally decided to try professional blogging. Without Abby Lawson’s e-book, I definitely couldn’t have started my new blogging journey. Abby keeps everything simple and easy to read. It really is your ultimate guide to starting blogging for income.
GUIDES AND COURSES
Building A Framework: The Ultimate Blogging Guide– Abby Lawson from Just a Girl and Her Blog does exactly as she promises. First, she gives you a framework to start your new blog. Then, she invites you to a private Facebook group if you choose the $75 package. Networking in the group is truly invaluable, making it my number one in my recommendations for new bloggers. I’ve met so many other bloggers this way. It’s amazing how much we help each other out!. Grab your copy of Abby’s guide here.
Michelle Schroeder-Gardner is truly an inspiration. She makes over $75,000 per month blogging. Her easy to understand course and worksheets delve into the world of affiliate marketing. I knew very little about before her course. The number of bloggers that rave about her course had me convinced that $197 was a great price. I really couldn’t have set up an affiliate marketing strategy without her course! I’ll update this page in a couple months to let you know my personal progress.
Melyssa Griffin’s Social Media Superheroes
I attended a List Building School where Melyssa Griffin gave a talk to bloggers – and I was hooked. She really knows what she’s doing! So, I took her $30 Social Media Superheroes course and got a great intro on how to use different types of social media for blogging.
WordPress – Most bloggers will tell you the same – this is the best blog platform out there. I’ve used Blogger before for a separate blog. Paying for WordPress.com (not WordPress.org – that’s the free version!) and linking your domain to it really opens up doors.
Bluehost – Countless bloggers recommended Bluehost to me, when there are hundreds of hosting providers out there. As soon as I signed up, I saw why! They are on live chat 24/7, patiently answer all your questions, charge a really low annual fee for hosting, and have an easy to use 1-click WordPress install. Rather than researching a ton of providers, I went with recommendations – and Bluehost was a good starter choice!
Siteground – After four months of blogging, I switched to Siteground. While their prices are a bit higher, I found that Siteground customer service was a lot more attentive and faster than Bluehost. In fact, they work with Let’s Connect to give you a free SSL (https://) connection, which stops people from seeing a “This connection isn’t secure” notice on their browsers. It helps a bit in search rankings, too. Most importantly, the customer service team has answered every question I had about anything related to my website, by walking me through the steps to make sure I did it right. Not to mention, my site was SUPER fast after I switched and added on Cloudflare (which the customer service team walked me through). Super! Definitely worth the extra few dollars per year!
Elegant Themes – Once again, I deliberated for ages when looking for a theme, and was really stuck between choosing the Genesis Framework or Divi from Elegant Themes. I have to say – Divi all the way! I made the right choice! Their support is wonderful. They update their documentation pages (and their theme) very often. In fact, what I’ve found is that almost every time people on my blogging support groups are looking for plug-ins to help them out with another theme (a drag and drop page builder, for example), it’s already default in Divi. I’d highly recommend their premium package, as it’s really only a few dollars more and gets you access to all their Divi specific plugins. Monarch itself (the social media plug-in) is worth the extra bit of cash; I spent hours trying out different social media plugins and nothing looked quite as good. Trust me on this one, Divi’s the way to go – I spent a long time looking for the right theme! Oh, and if you decide you want a different one of their themes? All 87 of their themes are available for a low price by visiting their site here – and it’s only $20 more to upgrade and have access to all their plug-ins, too.
Now, it’s true that Divi is the ultimate theme, but if you want it to have even more power, I’d opt to buy the $19 Divi Plugin. I know that seems like a lot, since most plugins are free — but wow! You know all those hours you’ve spent going through forum posts trying to find the code to make a little WordPress tweak using your theme? Well, if you have Divi and install Divi Booster, you’ll be set. The best part is that Dan, the guy who created the plugin, is super helpful on forums. He even gives you the code to enter it yourself if you’d prefer (I’m not so brave and I love the convenience of having the plug-in).
Canva is a great resource for stock photography. Now, I usually take my own photos, but the great part about Canva is that they have templates (like photo collages, for example) You can drag-and-drop your own photos or any of their free or premium photos into the editor – and voila! – you have a collage-like image to use for your blog posts. You can check out Canva’s article on 74 places to find stock photos here.
Unsplash is one of my favourite sites for free stock photography taken by professionals. It’s absolutely incredible! Check out their talented photographers here.
Pexels is another site where you can find high quality, free photos with no royalties. Check out their talented photographers here.
Tired of pinning and re-pinning on Pinterest enough times that people see your content? Tailwind is the perfect solution (and time saver!). It’s an easy-to-use program that schedules pins for you. All you have to do is click the browser extension, choose what you’d like to pin, and drag and drop it into a visual interface in Tailwind. Not sure when to pin? Tailwind’s smart algorithm analyzes your data and tells you the best times to pin your content so the most people see it. There’s even a frial trial! Want $15 off? Just click here to get started with Tailwind and grab your discount.
Once again, I’m using ConvertKit after multiple recommendations from much bigger bloggers. I know everyone starts out on MailChimp, but I decided to start out right. Yes, it’s a little more pricey than Mailchimp – but ConvertKit doesn’t double count your subscribers if they are part of two “lists”. In fact, the market segmentation possibilities for your email list are truly incredible. I’ve just started with ConvertKit and I’m already a fan of Nathan Barry and his team. They are so helpful and respond to any questions right away. Oh, and their landing pages (albeit simple) really work to get subscribers. Check out ConvertKit here and get ready to grow your email list.
One word came to mind when I opened up this mic and tested it – wow. I really love the Blue Yeti! It’s a pretty good price for this quality of mic and has 4 sound settings you can choose from. It has a very sturdy stand and can be off to the side and still record very well while you host webinars or record video for your e-courses. Click here to grab yours.
Of course, your laptop has a webcam, but it won’t record as well as this one, I promise you. The Logitech HD Pro C920 was the best fifty dollars I spent on equipment. It’s crystal clear and records video perfectly, too! Grab yours here and ramp up the quality of your webinars and course videos today!
Have questions about any of my recommendations? Please don’t be afraid to send me an email at sapna [at] teachingcove [dot] com. I love hearing from all of you!
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