6 Free Resources For First Time ESL Tutors

4 min readFeb 24, 2022


By John Galindo

Kickstarting your lesson plans made simple and effective.

Free image via Pexels.

It’s almost time to teach your first ESL class.

You joined the Tutoria community, passed your background check, and are preparing to teach your first student. You’re excited but can’t shake the new-tutor jitters.

Staring at a blank sheet trying to organize a lesson can be daunting, especially when you are starting from scratch. Even if this is your first time tutoring, knowing what resources are available can help you feel confident before your first lesson.

In this post, we will be covering six free resources available to our ESL tutors. Although they’re not required, you can always embed them in your lesson plans.

Know Your Student

Before we move on, it’s important to understand that every student is at a different stage in their English-learning journey. Tutoria offers services for non-English speakers of all levels. Think of it as a spectrum, and outline what your student knows versus what they need help with to get a sense of where to start.

Student Types

In general, there are three types of students here at Tutoria:

  • Beginner
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

Beginners have little to no experience speaking or reading in English. Everything you are teaching will be brand new to them.

Intermediate students have some speaking or reading experience. They may be able to hold basic conversations or identify simple signage, but nothing complex.

Advanced students should understand enough English to hold conversations with little misunderstanding. More than likely, their needs are more niche.

Now, let’s dive in!

Beginner Resources

When working with a beginner, the easiest place to start is with the alphabet.

Think back to when you first learned to read and write. Every day your teachers practiced pronouncing the alphabet with you out loud, exaggerating each sound they make. There are 26 letters in the English alphabet, including 5 vowels. Depending on the context, those vowels may or may not be silent. No matter the age, if you are working with someone new to English, building a foundation in these basics will help them progress.

We have three links that cover exactly that.

Our first video is an introduction to the English alphabet, while the other two cover an in-depth look at the alphabet and vowels. Even at this stage, building exercises and take-home assignments can be fun. For example, if you know your student loves learning about sports, teach them how to translate and write nouns like ball, bat, player, and coach.

Remember, it is best to keep assignments and conversations simple. Avoid using any language that can be too confusing

Video Resources:

  1. “Spanish-Speaking English Teacher on the Alphabet”
  2. “English Alphabet Pronunciation Video”
  3. “English Vowel Pronunciation Video”

Intermediate Resources

Simple English News

Now that your students have their footing, it’s time for something more challenging.

Simple English News is a great site for intermediate students. They have resources covering basic grammar, proverbs, and idioms alongside free online tests. Students can explore new topics and test their level of understanding of various topics. Furthermore, tutors themselves can find helpful tips on how to organize study sessions.

A lot of the information on Simple English News is easy to digest. Everything is bite-sized, avoiding drawn-out explanations.

Again, it’s important to know where your students are on their knowledge journey.

Make a game plan on what pages they should visit. Recognize what they want to get better at and direct them to the right pages. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the website too. Exploring everything Simple English News has to offer will ensure you can take full advantage of their platform.

Advanced Learners

We Speak NYC

We Speak NYC (formally We Speak New York City) is the city’s first English-learning program. Their mission is simple: to offer conversational classes for English learners of all levels and free online learning materials for teachers.

Unlike Simple English News, We Speak NYC has both online learning materials and remote classes. We Speak NYC has even curated its own video series that’s now in its second season. The series can help proficient English learners improve their language skills with advanced study guides, short story reviews, and illustrations. Everything We Speak NYC has to offer focuses on real-life conversational skills.

All Level Learning

Tutoring Adult Learners Using the Internet

Don’t let the title fool you. Kim Roush, the site facilitator, offers an abundance of free resources. After working in adult literacy for over 11 years, she’s gathered the most useful websites for tutors around the world. Roush has links to basic tutor training, fluency, comprehension, and other ESL resources for people of all ages.

For example, ReadWriteThink, a website found on Roush’s site, offers lessons that align with individual state standards and Common Core standards. This is perfect for not only you as a tutor, but parents as well.

Image by Katerina Holmes via Pexels

You may not use all these resources, but they can definitely help you if you are brand new to tutoring or feeling stuck. Remember, you can find access to all of these free resources by visiting our FAQ page. If you want to learn more about how to organize your lesson plan, check out our post “Create a Lesson Plan for Tutoring English Online” for more details.

How else do you create lesson plans? Comment below and let us know!




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