The big list of CPD for ELT

By Alex Case

There are so many ways of improving your teaching and career more generally, it is amazing that more teachers don’t take advantage of at least one type of CPD (continuing professional development) unless they are pushed. The aim of this article is to give people some idea of how much they are missing out on, both by showing the sheer number of options and by providing a simple list that you can skim through and find something suitable from in just a couple of minutes. People who already indulge in CPD but are looking for new options should also find something here that they could try. In good TEFL style, the list is provided as a brainstormed list of collocations with verbs, as if straight off a huge mind map on the topic. Because of the article’s structure, a few of the ideas are repeated under different verbs.

Most of the types of CPD below cost nothing, so I have starred (*) the ones that you have to pay for. Although it is only slightly based on its content, this article was inspired by reading The Developing Teacher by Duncan Foord (Delta Publishing).

To develop as a teacher, you could:


  • general education ideas to TEFL
  • self help ideas to TEFL
  • authentic texts
  • a worksheet or activity for another level, age, language point or kind of class
  • the tasks for a reading or listening


  • a teacher’s rep
  • a mentor
  • an examiner, e.g. IELTS Speaking examiner
  • a senior teacher
  • a teacher trainer


  • a grammar explanation you always use
  • ages of students you teach
  • class size (e.g. to/ from one to one)
  • country
  • edition of textbook
  • levels
  • position (e.g. teacher trainer or DoS)
  • school
  • set up of the classroom (positions of chairs etc)
  • supplementary materials you use (e.g. try different photocopiable books or different websites)
  • textbook
  • the order of the stages of the lesson (e.g. changing from PPP to Test Teach Test)
  • to or from multilingual classes
  • type of class (e.g. business or exam classes)
  • warmers

Check out

  • the latest ELT publishers’ catalogues
  • the inside of new books (through Amazon’s Look Inside function or Google Books)

Collaborate on

  • a collection of activities that all teachers could use, e.g. a supplementary folder for a particular level
  • a joint blog
  • a website for students
  • a wiki
  • a workshop
  • an article
  • brainstorming ideas for a particular level, age, textbook, or language point
  • making a change in the school
  • some research


  • a folder of activities and worksheets to try
  • lists of good ideas and activities for particular skills and language points
  • links to good websites


  • a free e-book
  • kids’ songs (e.g. Dream, SuperSimpleSongs*)

Get feedback from

  • students
  • colleagues
  • bosses
  • an observer from elsewhere
  • people online (e.g. by posting your lesson plan on your blog or a forum)

Get hold of free

  • TEFL books (review copies from publishers, free e-books, or by becoming a reviewer)
  • songs
  • flashcards
  • photocopiable worksheets

Go to

  • workshops
  • language and teaching courses abroad
  • a book shop with teaching materials


  • a famous or fellow TEFLer, e.g. for your blog or for YouTube
  • a student on their language learning beliefs and history
  • teachers on their views about particular TEFL matters


  • an IATEFL SiG
  • a local teachers’ association (e.g. JALT, KoTESOL, English Teachers in Japan, TESOL Spain)
  • a Yahoo Group (e.g. English Teachers in Japan)
  • a Facebook group
  • Linked In
  • Twitter
  • online conversation exchange
  • Webheads


  • the phonemic chart
  • grammar explanations
  • grammar terminology
  • ELT and linguistics jargon
  • a language
  • word roots and where idioms come from (etymology)
  • cultural differences (e.g. body language around the world)
  • typical student errors and reasons for them (e.g. from the book Learner English or lists of Janglish/ Konglish/ Spanglish)
  • new English slang, e.g. textspeak
  • about other varieties of English
  • more about your own culture (e.g. with the book Watching the English)
  • about an area of ESP
  • about things kids and teenagers are interested (e.g. the latest girl groups)
  • the history of the English language (e.g. with Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson)
  • the history of English language teaching
  • something about language more generally (e.g. with The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language)

Listen to

  • TEFL podcasts
  • language and linguistics podcasts
  • language learning podcasts


  • a colleague
  • your boss
  • a trainee teacher
  • teachers elsewhere (e.g. by watching a video of a lesson)

Polish up

  • some admin
  • a textbook or supplementary activity (e.g. by retyping it up as your own worksheet)
  • a supplementary file


  • a review
  • an article
  • a teaching tip
  • a lesson plan
  • flashcards
  • a worksheet
  • a conference report
  • a blog post (on your own or other people’s blogs)
    • in magazines
    • in the newsletter of a local teaching organisation
    • on


  • websites
  • blogs and blog comments
  • online forums
  • books of practical ideas
  • articles
  • book reviews
  • magazines
  • journals
  • email newsletters (e.g.
  • e books
  • relevant popular science books (e.g. ones of learning or psychology)
  • paperback linguistics books
  • paperback books about general education (e.g. Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire, or Teacher Man)
  • handouts or notes from a workshop you went to a while ago
  • the teacher’s book
  • a usage book (e.g. Bill Bryson’s Difficult Words)

Record (with permission!)

  • a lesson
  • one or two students doing a speaking activity (e.g. to analyse their language problems or to see how they get better at it over one lesson, week, term or year)
  • yourself and/ or a colleague doing a speaking task (to see what is difficult about it and/ or to use as a model in class)
  • one of your day to day conversations (e.g. a Skype phone call)


  • student opinions
  • what teachers really do while teaching, planning, marking or choosing jobs
  • the effects of something on learning
  • typical errors
  • the development of one student’s language over time

Set up

  • a Wiki
  • a book club
  • a regular meeting for people teaching the same kinds of classes


  • worksheets (e.g. on ESLprintables,
  • teaching ideas (e.g. on a noticeboard in your teachers’ room)
  • favourite worksheets (e.g. in level files or a sharing file in your teachers’ room)
  • warmers
  • lesson plans (e,g. on Onestopenglish Lesson Share)
  • a class (e.g. team teaching)
  • your favourite links (e.g. on Reddit)
  • cut up sets of cards (e.g. in a filing cabinet in your teachers’ room)

Spend money on*

  • subscriptions to journals and magazines
  • sites with classroom materials (e.g. Onestopenglish)
  • general education sites (e.g. Enchanted Learning)
  • story and picture books
  • songs
  • teaching books

Subscribe to

  • website updates (e.g. TESL-EJ updates)
  • magazines and journals* (e.g. ELT Journal, English Teaching Professional, Modern English Teacher)
  • Google News Alerts in things of interest (e.g. “Second Language Acquisition” or “ELT publishing”)
  • RSS feeds of TEFL blogs
  • email newsletters (e.g. Humanizing Language Teaching)


  • the TKT
  • one or more modules of the DELTA
  • the Trinity Diploma
  • the ICELT
  • an MA
  • a qualification in teaching Business English
  • the YL extension to the CELTA
  • an online course
  • a PGCE in TEFL or TESOL
  • a short course (e.g. at Pilgrims)

Take part in

  • webinars
  • Yahoo groups
  • wikis (e.g. Let’s Japan)


  • another subject through English


  • an experimental lesson


  • EFL videos
  • authentic videos
  • CD ROMs
  • online EFL games (e.g. on Learn English Kids)
  • Cuisenaire rods
  • different supplementary materials
  • storybooks
  • songs
  • supplementary listening books
  • podcasts
  • a digital voice recorder
  • a language lab
  • new games
  • new lesson structures, e.g. mixing up stages
  • new materials
  • materials from different books and websites
  • digital storytelling sites
  • more or less error correction
  • flashcards
  • realia

Volunteer to

  • be observed (e.g. by new or trainee teachers)
  • be a mentor
  • help organise and run a TEFL conference
  • organise the teaching resources
  • organise and lead a series of workshops
  • organise the student materials
  • find out about the possibility of becoming a teacher training centre
  • lead the process of choosing new textbooks
  • let someone practice their workshop or lesson on you
  • teach someone else’s lesson while they observe you
  • take part in class (e.g. as someone your colleague’s students ask questions to or as an example of giving presentations)
  • be a level leader
  • teach or train people who couldn’t normally afford classes (e.g. VSO, teaching refugees, teaching in poor rural areas)
  • help with interviewing prospective teachers


  • a videoed workshop or lecture
  • a videoed lesson (e.g. the DVDs at the back of Teaching with Bear and The Practice of English Language Teaching)
  • a video on general education
  • a colleague’s lesson
  • a video of your own lesson
  • interviews of TEFLers (e.g. on Lives of Teachers blog)
  • webinars
  • examples of action songs (e.g. on
  • examples of storytelling (e.g. on YouTube)
  • examples of speaking exams
  • movies about teaching
  • videos on the CD ROMs in the publishers’ latest catalogues


  • a teaching diary
  • a list of your beliefs about teaching and learning
  • your answers to discussion questions in the teaching book you are reading
  • a list of things to try in class
  • a brainstormed list of ways to teach or practice something
  • a list of things that worked well
  • a reflection on why something didn’t go so well
Written by Alex Case for July 2012
Alex Case is the author of TEFLtastic.


  • Sanjay Pandharinath Jadhav says:

    There are so many ways given to develop our CPD. It’s very useful for teachers to enrich their knowledge and learning English.

  • Teka says:

    It is an impactful text for all us who want to develop processionally as teachers. Thank you so much.

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