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Classroom Ideas; Teaching Abroad

Teaching abroad is becoming more attractive as school systems around the world feel the impact of economic crisis. Many teachers are remedying this hardship, hiring freezes and salary reductions, by teaching abroad. Countries like China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates offer attractive salaries and incentives to entice English speaking, certified teachers to join their organizations.

However, once the lengthy paperwork processes are completed and the move abroad is accomplished, many teachers are faced with classrooms that are vastly different than their respective home countries. Classrooms are often bare, with minimal resources, and aesthetics that could only resonant with a 21 year old bachelor.

Below are a few classroom and bulletin board ideas that I’ve gathered from international schools and teachers that I’ve supervised throughout the years.

Above is a bulletin display on shapes. The teacher used this as one of the culminating, assessment activities to celebrate the unit. As pictured: circles, rectangles, squares, and triangles are used to make a fun character. This can be used as a glyph activity for older primary students and a study of colors.

The above display is a diagram of how co-teaching activities work within one classroom. The English and Arabic teachers share one space with multiple outcomes to cover. This is a kindergarten classroom in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).


Incorporating traditional and cultural activities into the curriculum is expected in many ESL International Classrooms. This teacher used brown “Dixie Cups”, clothes pins, and construction paper to create camels. Many of the items used within international classrooms, especially government or public schools, are purchased with the teacher’s personal money. This is different within most private schools. Like many of your home countries, this varies per school.


The co-teachers worked together to incorporate literacy within the current theme; Zoo Animals. As displayed, an arabic letter is used as the giraffe’s nose.  Many of the social and academic outcomes are overlapped within this activity.

More about shapes…


Using pictures and tactile items are essential for early language learners. Within this classroom, the teacher used tangible objects and pictures to create a word wall. The students often referred to the wall when writing and formulating ideas. Interactive word walls are meaningful and practical.

Numbers and shapes…




The beginning of your international teaching career doesn’t have to scare the daylight out of you and prompt you to run back across the pond. Pack a little patience, creativity, and hit up the dollar store to make your classroom student friendly and Pinterest ready.

For more classroom ideas, visit my Pinterest page or contact me directly.

Tags: “teaching abroad” “teaching in the UAE” “ESL Bulletin Board Ideas” “ESL” “English Language Learners” “ELL” “classroom ideas”


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