Create an ESL “Classroom” for Less than $10

If you’ve decided to join the online world of ESL teaching, you may be wondering how to create your “classroom” set up.

I spent several days wondering this exact thing and even though I ran several searches on Pinterest and Google, I was left without any great answers.

I came up with an option that is cheap and mobile.

Many of the options I did see used a desk and were either set up in a corner or against a wall where they hung up educational decorations. Easy enough, right?

I personally teach English classes with VIPKid in my living room (as this is the furthest area from the bedroom where another person and dogs are sleeping). This presented me with some challenges as I do not have a designated wall to be my “classroom” and I do not want the visual clutter of a desk area set up anywhere in the living room area. I wanted something that is easily set up before class and just as easily put away after class.

My solution: a 3 fold display board that sits atop my TV entertainment center. Initially I used an Ikea desk that has a separate desk top and legs but this was a bit too cumbersome to move around every day. I have since switched to two TV trays set up in front of that TV credenza to use as a desk and I just roll my computer chair from the office over.

update: I now stand to teach and use an Ikea shelf that raises my laptop to up to be as high as my face. I still prop the 3-fold board up on the TV stand.

I used my Cricut to create the banner, letter, and number displays on my board. I also added faces displaying different emotions that were just printed off the internet, the flags of the United States, Britain, and China (as these are focuses in several lessons in the curriculum), and a world map.

It’s really up to you what to add to the board, as long as it is an educational backdrop that simulates a classroom to the student who is viewing you in front of it from their computer.

One of the interesting features about the VIPKid platform (and many of them in general, I believe) is that the video window where you are visible to the student is only a part of your screen and only showcases part of the display board. If I wanted to, I could flip the board over and create a completely new backdrop using the same board because only half of it is visible on the screen that the student sees.

It’s not necessary to have a Cricut to create a board like this one, either. I own a Cricut outside of being an ESL teacher for personal use, so I only paid about $3 total to create the backdrop since I really only paid for the board and was able to make/print the rest at home. You could easily decorate a board like this with props found in the Target Dollar Section, the Dollar Tree, or from online resources that you could print out yourself for under $10.

This is a cheap, quick way to create a classroom backdrop that is quickly set up and stores easily behind a couch. Happy teaching!

3 thoughts on “Create an ESL “Classroom” for Less than $10

  1. This is a great idea! I live in a small condo (800 square feet!) and don’t really have extra space to decorate a wall and can’t really move my desk. I’m definitely going to go and find a presentation board. Thanks!

    1. Thank you! I was so surprised to find that this wasn’t really a popular idea around the corners of the internet, but it’s been working for me for just about a year now. Glad it fits your needs too!

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