How to Teach ESL to Adults

Teaching English to Adults.

Adult ESL instructors must be aware that their students’ learning styles differ slightly from those of children. According to studies, the ordinary adult is expected to be self-motivated and to have a clear goal in mind when learning a new subject or language.

These two characteristics alone suggest that adult ESL teaching methods differ slightly from those used with younger students. Furthermore, the learning environment, as well as the courses, should be more formalized and systematic.

Because the need for ESL lessons should be increasingly focused on adult learning, here are some considerations to make while teaching.

Learning can be More Challenging.

When it comes to learning a new language, adults have different needs, demands, and difficulties than younger students. The inherent ability to learn a second language begins to decline around adolescence and continues to decline as we grow older.

To attain competency or fluency, your adult pupils must actively and consciously learn a language. If you’re teaching individuals who are complete beginners with no prior English expertise or exposure, this can be a difficult task for them.

Even individuals who have had previous exposure to the language can easily forget what they’ve learned, struggle with grammatical concepts that are foreign to them, and feel self-conscious or humiliated about their abilities and development

Understand Why Your Student Wants to learn English.

First and foremost, try to understand each student’s requirements and preferences, and then do your best to inspire the student by providing demanding exercises that he or she is capable of doing.

A teacher should be able to assess a student’s ability to manage different levels of difficulty. Correctly accessing your new student is critical, as you do not want to place them in a class that is too difficult and likewise a class that is boring and not challenging for them.

Here are the different levels for adult learners as laid out by the C.E.F.R.

The Different Levels ( C.E.F.R.)

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) is a global standard for describing language proficiency. It uses a six-point scale to describe language proficiency, ranging from A1 for novices to C2 for those who have mastered a language.

A1 Beginners.

At the end of English level A1, you will be able to,

  • Understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases.
  • Introduce yourself and others.
  • Ask and answer questions about personal details (for example, where you live, people you know and things you have.
  • Interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

A2 Elementary.

At the end of English level A 2, you will be able to,

  • Understand statements and terms that are commonly utilized in common places. This includes fundamental personal and family information, as well as shopping, local geography, and work opportunities.
  • Easy and everyday actions requiring a direct and simple exchange of information.
  • Describe your background and present concerns in simple terms.

B1 Pre Intermediate / Intermediate.

At the end of English level B 1, you will be able to,

  • Understand the essential points on topics that you encounter on a regular basis at work, school, or in your own time.
  • Deal with the majority of problems that may occur while traveling in an English-speaking location.
  • Create simple linked text about topics that are familiar or particular to you.
  • Describe your experiences and events, as well as your dreams, hopes, and objectives, and briefly explain your ideas and plans.

B2 Upper Intermediate.

At the end of English level B 2, you will be able to,

  • Understand the essential points of a complex text on a wide range of topics, including technical talks in your field of expertise.
  • Interact with a level of fluency and spontaneity that allows for regular interactions with native speakers without putting either side under stress.
  • Produce clear, informative literature on a variety of topics and express a point of view on a current situation, including the benefits and drawbacks of alternative options.

C1 Advanced.

At the end of English level C 1 you will be able to,

  • Understand and recognize underlying meaning in a variety of challenging, longer texts.
  • Express yourself fluently and naturally without obviously searching for expressions.
  • Use language in a flexible and effective manner for social, intellectual, and professional reasons.
  • Produce clear, well-structured, thorough text on complicated issues using organizational patterns, linkages, and cohesive devices in a controlled manner.

C 2 Proficiency.

At the end of English level C 2 you will be able to,

  • You can understand almost anything you hear or read easily.
  • Summarize information from a variety of oral and written sources, putting arguments and accounts together in a logical order.
  • Even in increasingly difficult situations, express yourself freely, fluently, and precisely, distinguishing finer shades of meaning.

You can find some great resources at British Council, including lesson plans for each level from A1 to C1.

Points to Remember.

Be Nice.

If your student is having trouble grasping a subject that you believe is straightforward, make sure you reply with patience and respect. Your attitude will be revealed through your tone, body language, and behavior. This is understood by the students, regardless of how little English they know.

Remember that learning English is only a small part of their lives, and while you may have greater skills in this area, they may have more professional and life experience. Maintain a courteous demeanor.

Make it Fun.

Everyone likes to laugh, and while your classes will be more structured than a children’s or teenagers class, don’t forget to have a bit of fun at the same time.

Some of the best social interactions I have had with my students is when we have gone out to a restaurant or even just for a coffee.

Your students are Adults and you can be a little more risque. Just make sure you are culturally appropriate and your comments or attempts at humor don’t come across as inappropriate or rude.

Make it age-appropriate.

Make sure your courses are relevant to your adult students’ life, even if they are complete beginners. While it is simple and effective to use children’s books and materials, it may appear patronizing to them.

Plan your courses instead around their current objectives, such as how to fill out a job application, study for a citizenship test, or practice interview questions for a new job.

Provide Positive Feedback.

Adults require a lot of encouragement. If they struggle or take a long time to remember something, they may become disheartened.

Get a comprehensive picture of your pupils’ language level before you start teaching, and leverage what they already know to help them gain confidence. You may start introducing new language from there, and they’ll feel more confident knowing they have a solid base.

Take it slowly and don’t try and rush, we all have different styles of learning and some may take longer than others. It is not a race, sometimes I have found the slower student becomes the most proficient in the long run.

Talk Slowly, Clearly and Directly

Quite often ESL students do not comprehend nuance, and there may be moments when you need to discuss a sensitive topic like personal manners or healthcare. In these situations,

I’ve found that role-play is one method to get the idea across in a non-threatening yet direct manner. Also, body language is something that is easily understood and should be made use of if you are having trouble getting the students to understand.

And sometimes it is even worth translating a word into the students native language if nothing else is working.


It is also critical for the teacher to remember that the lessons that the students learn will be used outside of the classroom at some point. We must keep it relevant to what the student needs, whether it is traveling or work or whatever the students needs are.

There are a slew of issues that come with studying English as a second language. The language barrier is perhaps the most difficult, which is why many teachers still struggle to correct the pronunciation of some English terms, grammatical faults, and so on.

However, it is still the teacher’s obligation to make an attempt to break down these barriers and establish a positive learning atmosphere for the students.

Learn how you can make money as an ESL teacher by visiting my post ” How to Make Money Teaching ESL

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen, and I’ve been teaching English as a second language/English as a foreign language for over 15 years and own a school in Vietnam. I am also the proprietor of this website and the author of this post.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Make Money teaching ESL |101

Make Money Teaching English | 101.

You can earn a lot of money teaching English as a second language, whether you’re searching for a side hustle or full-time employment. You have the option of teaching either online or in a classroom.

Most teaching firms pay teachers a range of hourly rates, and I’ll show you how you can maximize your rates.

Also, what factors determine how much money students are ready to pay for classes with you, and how can you expand your school if you decide to start your own business and become an online English teacher?

Here are a few things you should know if you’re a natural English speaker who wants to make money by helping people all around the world learn English.

Get Qualified.

It’s crucial to establish yourself as a professional in the area as an online English instructor if you want to make the most money. Getting trained and certified is the most common approach to do so.

I recommend UDEMY to get your qualifications. Their training is comprehensive and affordable.


Online teaching firms, in particular, want to know that you’re not only TEFL/TESOL certified and have learnt the essential principles of teaching English, but also have specific training in teaching online and are committed to continuing your professional growth.

Your Business

If you start your own business as a freelance online English instructor you will be able to attract more students and charge a higher hourly rate as your qualifications increase. And the more you build your business and the experience in your market increases, the more you can ask for.

But be careful to not price yourself out of the market. Do shopping surveys of other schools and find out what their rates are and try to come in a little under the larger centers.

Classroom Teaching

And it doesn’t change for classroom teaching. If anything it may be more essential to show qualifications and experience. No school wants an unqualified or inexperienced teacher in a classroom of potentially 50 students who don’t know what they are doing.

Even developing countries are becoming more strict with qualifications for classroom teaching. In Vietnam for example it is expected that teachers of EFL will have a B.A. ( Albeit not necessarily in the teaching field)

Tech needs for online teaching.

Online teaching is a convenient way to earn money, but it comes with a number of technological and technical requirements.

The essentials.

  • Internet Access that is Consistent. If you have a strong, consistent Internet connection, you can teach from anywhere in the globe. If you have a strong, consistent Internet connection, you can teach from anywhere in the globe.
  • Computer. To connect to virtual classrooms, the majority of English-as-a-second-language (ESL) tutoring organizations need their teachers to use a laptop or desktop computer. Smartphones are rarely allowed unless you work for app-based businesses like PalFish.
  • Headset Microphone. Most companies don’t allow you to teach with a built-in microphone. Fortunately, there are many affordable headset microphones on the market.

You can find out more at “What is technology in the Classroom

Tech needs for classroom teaching.

Almost every EFL teacher has dealt with this situation:

A class of students who are uninterested in what is going on, no matter how well-prepared the lesson plan is.

We all want our students to be engaged, but we also recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all method to attaining it, whether we teach online or in person.

Each class has its own set of strengths, dynamics, goals, and outcomes. Fortunately, we may employ several strategies to encourage participation without being overbearing. you can find out more “ HERE

Tech to help.

Classroom teaching has its own specific problems and you want to minimize these by incorporating some basic technology in your classroom.

First and foremost, after a long day in the classroom, a wireless headset with a Bluetooth connection to a speaker will save your voice.

I presently utilize a Sony 30 watt speaker, and an “Aporo” wireless headphone (XB32). In addition, I use Google Drive on my phone to store all of my audio recordings.

It will work with any decent wireless headset and speaker. I recommend that you practice before teaching.

My phone is also connected to the Sony speaker through Bluetooth. I’ve saved all of my audio recordings to my phone and programmed the tracks I’ll need for the upcoming lessons.

For any visual presentations, I also use a tiny projector that I display on the classroom wall. Alternatively, I use a whiteboard or a projection screen. The projector’s audio output is also connected to my Sony speaker.

Invest in your future with some essential equipment if you want to make your classroom experience more interesting for your students and work easier for you. you can read more “Here

Setting up Your Own School. ( Classroom style )

Starting your own teaching business, the most difficult ( And most profitable ) of the three possibilities is great if you have the motivation and drive to see it through. It is also something that will take time.

So if you do not want to be in one country for longer than 3 years this is probably not for you.

Not only will you have to hustle to find your own students, but you’ll also be running the show from the ground up, deciding what age group/demographic you want to teach, and developing your own lesson plans based on that.

As well as getting your name out there and marketing your business, and determining your rate of pay and a form of payment that is acceptable where you teach.

How did I do it?

I was teaching in a Vietnamese public school and was well recognized as being an excellent teacher. That is, I always turned up for classes on time and had my lessons pre-prepared. I made the lessons fun for the students and they wanted to learn.

Not rocket science, but when you are up against people who want to go out and drink all night then stagger into the classroom and teach, you are number 1.

After teaching at a few schools I was approached by students and teachers who wanted to improve their English skills.

I had no idea what I was doing but started out charging a minimum hourly base of $50.00 per hour per class. The students were ecstatic and I increased my enrollments very fast. In under 3 years, I was teaching around 150 students per week across different levels.

Now after 5 plus years and coping with the pandemic we, ( I now have other teachers helping ) are still in operation and making more and moving forward again.

Your Online School.

Setting up an online school is, in my opinion, not much different from setting up a classroom environment for teaching.

However, you do need to focus on what country you wish to teach in. If you are not living in that country it will be much more difficult to get students quickly.

The students and more importantly the parents will not know who you are and this will make getting new enrollments more difficult. But if you want to jump straight into this, here are some suggestions.

Intro Video.

This video should highlight your accent, abilities, and why you believe you would make an excellent ESL teacher for their children.

Use this video to sell yourself and your strengths to get your first students, gain some solid, positive reviews, and start to build your client base.

You can use a free tool like Screen-Cast-O-Matic for this.

Market Yourself.

Put your video out into the marketplace, Use Social Media platforms and find groups that specialize in ESL or EFL, and follow and interact with people on the platform.


It’s typical to start with cheaper pricing to attract new students and to establish a positive reputation through favorable feedback and reviews before increasing your rate.

How much can I make?

Starting an ESL tutoring business is a significant financial investment. Many employers demand that teachers devote a certain number of hours per week to their students or sign a contract. and the pay rate will reflect on experience and qualifications.

What They say.

According to Glassdoor, full-time online ESL teachers earn an average salary of around $36,800 per year.

Glassdoor also has information on the hourly rates of well-known tutoring firms.

Popular online organizations like VIPKid pay between $17 and $21 per hour depending on your experience and bonuses, while SayABC pays between $16 and $22 per hour based on your experience and bonuses. According to Magic Ears, their teachers can make up to $26 per hour.

What I say.

Teaching in the classroom or teaching online can range from a low of $10 per hour up to $40 per hour depending on where you teach and the level you teach.

Do not expect to walk in and start making 40.00 per hour. It would be more reasonable to expect $17.00 to $20.00 at the moment depending on the country as well. Countries like Dubai and Taiwan are currently paying very good salaries.

If you decide to set up your own business the rewards are much greater. You have the potential to make $100 and more per hour.

Also, you need to take into consideration the cost of living. Living in some southeast Asian Countries can be very cheap and your pay will go much further. Also, you will be able to save a considerable amount.

Pros and Cons of Teaching Online.

For good reason, English teaching is a popular career choice. It’s difficult to find a profession that is as flexible and well-paid as ESL teaching.


  • ESL tutoring pays higher than the minimum wage in every state in the United States, with an average hourly rate of $18.

    Fully Remote.

  • You can work from any place as long as you meet the job’s technology criteria and your surroundings are well-lit and pleasant.
  • Potential to work full-time. Working full time becomes more and more feasible as your teaching skills improve and you establish a rapport with parents and pupils.



  • Hours that are unusual. You must be willing to get up between 3 and 6 a.m. to teach during peak hours if you are teaching in Asia.
  • Onboarding is a lengthy process. Barriers to admittance include requirements such as a bachelor’s degree or a TEFL certificate.
  • In addition, leading education firms’ onboarding processes often include at least one interview and might take up to a month to complete. If you’re searching for a quick way to make money, teaching English as a second language isn’t for you.

And if you decide to travel to another country to teach there are many more pros than cons. Living in a foreign country and experiencing the different cultures and food are some of the greatest pleasures of ESL and EFL teachers.


It can be challenging and it can be frustrating, but the experiences you gather will last for your whole life. And the change you can bring to someone’s life is one reason alone to be an ESL Teacher.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen, and I’ve been teaching English as a second language/English as a foreign language for over 15 years and own a school in Vietnam. I am also the proprietor of this website and the author of this post.

Below is a link to my most recent YouTube Vlog on TET in Vietnam.

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

How to Teach Grammar to ESL Students.

Teaching Grammar to ESL students.

Teachers frequently shy away from grammar lessons because they are not fun to teach and can be immensely boring for the student.

Before they can do anything, the students must sit silently and listen to a lecture on the present perfect, present simple, past participle, or whatever grammatical topic you are addressing.

For a variety of reasons, it can be difficult. Lessons can be tedious. It’s possible that the grammar is too difficult for the students. Or they become bored and lose focus.

As a result, the teacher may become overwhelmed when attempting to present and explain all of the complicated rules.

How do we overcome this and make it a bit more fun and understandable?

Continue reading to learn a few tips about teaching ESL grammar classes.

Some Tips On Teaching ESL Grammar.

Let’s have a look at how to organize and deliver a good and pleasant grammar class.

We’ll walk you through a step-by-step teaching procedure that will fully engage your pupils in the lesson and ensure that they comprehend the rules without the need for lengthy, confusing explanations. And have a bit of fun at the same time.

1. Learn the rules yourself first.

If you grew up in an English-speaking household, you most likely picked up on grammar principles without even realizing it. While this makes you a natural speaker of the language, it might cause some difficulties while teaching it.

It is claimed that it is impossible to properly teach something that you do not understand yourself.

To put it another way, who would you choose as your teacher? Someone who knows what they’re talking about, or someone who is just pretending to know what they’re talking about?

2. Traditional approaches to teaching Grammar.

When it comes to teaching grammar, there are two main approaches that have been traditionally used. The two approaches are the deductive and inductive learning approaches.

Depending on your ESL student’s background, teaching inductively may be far more effective than teaching deductively.

Inductive learning.

The bottom-up method is another name for inductive learning. This strategy is widely used by teachers to help students especially those without recent educational backgrounds, such as adult learners, to learn more quickly.

To apply it, you teach grammar through a discovery process, in which students learn how the rules work through a series of tasks.

Deductive Learning.

The more traditional teaching method is when the teacher first explains the particular rules that govern each aspect of the grammar lesson then the students practice or do exercises.

Or, to put it another way, the teacher first explains the rules, after which he or she gives lessons based on those rules.

Although the deductive method is tried and tested, it is arguably less successful. Take the time to experiment with both and see what happens.

You can learn more at Udemy about teaching grammar.

3. Mix it up.

Create your own way of teaching Grammar by mixing both approaches and then adding your own unique touch.

For younger learners, you could use the inductive method and incorporate it in a TPR ( Total Physical Response ) style of teaching. Think outside the box and be creative in your approach to teaching grammar.

But first and foremost before you walk into the classroom prepare a lesson plan.

4. Do a Lesson Plan.

Far too many first-time ESL instructors enter the classroom without properly planning their lessons. Simply speaking the language does not guarantee that you can teach “off the cuff”.

Proper planning will allow you to avoid a lot of bad situations such as giving an explanation “off the cuff”, only to find out it is wrong.

The English language is complicated, and many rules include more exceptions than we would prefer. You don’t want to be caught off guard by one of those exceptions while speaking in front of the class.

Planning allows you to lay out the direction of your class ahead of time, including any relevant examples, ensuring that you have a flawless path for your students to follow. Let us go to the classroom.

5. Do a Warm-Up Activity.

Start your lesson by getting students engaged by playing a topic-relevant game.

For example, you can read out an article and ask your students how many times did you say the word “the”. ( You can also say pronouns or any point you wish the students to focus on )

You will quickly find them listening intently. You will probably need to read the ( short ) article 2 or 3 times.

Then ask them to give you the answer, you can turn this into a competitive game if you wish.

Most students will be wrong, but watch while they scour the text looking for the word “the”. You can also do it with punctuation. How many full stops, commas, etc. Now you have their attention, make the most of it.

6. Keep it Real.

Present the grammar in a way that has meaning and relevance, the students can start to understand what the structure means and why it’s used if they can relate it to a real-life situation.

Presenting the Grammar.

You could use the same article you used for a warm-up and highlight some examples of the target grammar topic.

Use a sentence containing the grammar items you are teaching and have students put it into their own words. But changing the meaning with their word substitution.

For example, if you’re teaching comparatives and superlatives and the sentence is “He is taller than his brother,” students might practice comparative adjectives by replacing “taller” with “larger,” “shorter,” “fatter,” “smarter,” and so on.

You can also include students’ names to make it more personal, just make sure you do not criticize any students accidentally.

7. Doing the Boring Bits.

Your goal is for students to be able to use the grammar taught after you teach it.

In order to do so, students must be taught the form, meaning, structure, and pronunciation correctly. This is where many teachers begin their lessons.

They believe it is their obligation to provide all of this information to the students in one foul sweep.

If you’re not careful, this stage can quickly devolve into a protracted, teacher-led rant that the kids have trouble following.

 Use a guided discovery process to help your students understand that boring grammar stuff.

Grammar Instruction Using Guided Discovery

Guided discovery is a worksheet or activity that guides pupils through the understanding of a grammar structure.

The beauty of guided discovery is that it encourages students to figure out the rules on their own rather than having the knowledge spoon-fed to them by the teacher.

This means that students will be more engaged, empowered, and invested in the learning process as a result. The following is an example of how a guided discovery works.

Example of Guided Discovery in Teaching irregular Verbs.

Despite the fact that there are only about 180 past tense verbs in modern English, they are the most regularly used verbs.

Almost seventy percent of the time, we use an irregular verb. The implication for grammar instruction is that irregular verbs are an extremely important area to cover.

So, how would I go about doing it?

I would pre-teach the words I was going to use and practice the pronunciation at the start, this should only take 15 minutes.

If it is taking longer you are trying to teach too many things or not explaining them properly. Then review quickly by asking questions.

If only one person doesn’t understand then it is probably that person. But if 50% of your class doesn’t understand it is definitely you.

Which means you have not prepared your lesson properly. Sorry, but true.

8. Introduce the activity.

Now, get the students to practice what they have learned. You can get them to do it individually or some people recommend pairing up your students. I have found by pairing up students they have a lot of fun talking to one another but don’t do much work.

My preference is to get them to work independently and concentrate on their own learning. This is also easier for you to check if they understand by asking them to put their name on the sheet and checking it later.

So what activity or study tool, I hear you say?. If we wanted to teach irregular verbs we could use something like this.

Here is an example of a word cloze activity.

Now get them to practice after completing.

9. Practice the Target English Grammar

Now the students need a chance to practice what they’ve learned. Here are a couple of fun, interactive practice ideas for irregular verbs you can use.

Class Survey.

Get the students to write two or three questions they would like to ask all of their classmates, using irregular verbs.

For example: What did you eat for breakfast. And the answer could be, I ate cereal for breakfast. Etc.

Allow pupils to ask any questions they wish.

As students prepare their questions, keep an eye on them to assist them and fix any problems that arise.

Then tell the kids that they must collect information on the questions they wrote from all of the other pupils.

They should all stand up and mingle, asking and recording questions from other students in the class. Getting them walking around also helps break the monotony.

Comic strip writing

This is a fun exercise, as there will be a variety of answers that may turn out to be hilarious.

Show the original comic and write it on the board. Then teach the target grammar item as above.

After verbally guessing the speech and learning the grammar from the original comic, have students fill in the speech bubbles on their own.

But only using the target grammar to make the content different from the original.

This is more suitable for flyers to intermediate-level students. You can tweak the activity for beginners by getting them to fill in the blanks.

For intermediate students, you can give helping words to guide them in their writing.

And there are many online resources you can use, here is a list of some of my favorites. ” My top 10 ESL Websites”


So there you have it: some ways for keeping your grammar pupils engaged and motivated.

By adding a variety of activities and resources, you may make grammar more enjoyable for both yourself and your students.

Spend some time gathering your resources, and you’ll be glad you did when you notice a difference in your students’ motivation levels in the classroom.

Your students and the school with which you work will see you as an excellent teacher.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen, and I’ve been teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) for over 15 years and own my own school. I also place teachers in both private and public schools throughout Vietnam.

I am also the author and owner of this website.

You can check out TET in HCMC on the YouTube link below.

TET 2022


Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

What are the Common Problems of ESL Students?

This is about understanding the students feelings in the ESL classroom and it may help you teaching your students more effectively.

Common problems of The ESL student

For a variety of reasons, the English language is regarded as one of the most difficult to master. There are many reasons why English as a second language (ESL) students fail to acquire the language. It can be from the complicated spelling and phrasal verbs to pronunciation and strange grammatical structures.

However, this article is not focused on the technical aspects of teaching, it is more about the students feelings, but it may help in you teaching your students more effectively if you understand their fears and needs.

Things to Keep in Mind

There are several things you can keep in mind as a teacher while planning your classes and one of the most important is to make the learning environment comfortable and stress-free.

Learners will be less likely to become frustrated and more likely to comprehend what you’re teaching them if they are relaxed and having fun for a start. However, there is so much more.

Understanding some of these problems comes some way in helping solve these problems for the student.

Here are some of the problems I have found that students encounter in the classroom and online.


Learning English can be a daunting task. It’s common to feel self-conscious when practicing, especially in the presence of native English speakers.

These emotions occur when ESL students believe they are unable to effectively express themselves. Things that are ordinarily simple to ask for, such as “may I go to the bathroom,” become considerably more complex when they have to consider each phrase and how to integrate them.

It’s critical to practice as much as possible to assist overcome this fear of embarrassment.

Classroom practice.

The simplest method is to help the student practice in the classroom. I always start the English learning process by teaching basic and easy-to-understand phrases. I will teach things like, “Teacher I want a glass of water”. “Teacher, I want to go to the bathroom”. “Stand up”, “sit down”, “open your book” etc.

With a bit of work upfront not only will it instill confidence in your student, but it will also make it easier for you as the teacher. Once your students gain confidence in their capacity to communicate, they will be able to speak more effectively with others.

Another thing I like to do is say “you are better at speaking English than I am at speaking your language”. A good idea is to get them to teach you some basic words in their language as it shows that you are not scared about making mistakes.


Children and adults are frequently exposed to a “new language” in a classroom setting, which can result in an overly structured approach to learning the language.

in my opinion, there are better ways of doing it. There are now lots of different ways to make the learning experience fun and interesting. My ethos is “laugh and learn”

There are a few different teaching styles and techniques you can use in the classroom and online to make sure your students aren’t bored.

Teaching Styles.

The teaching style I follow is TPR or total physical response. In my opinion, it brings a lesson alive and is much more fun for the student. This is a little of what it is about.

Total Physical Response.

T.P.R is a language acquisition method developed by psychology expert, Professor James Asher. TPR uses a combination of language and physical actions to engage students in the language learning process.

Total Physical Response has a lot of benefits, particularly for beginners and young learners.

  • The pairing of movement with language is innately associated with effective learning
  • Students actively use both the left and right sides of their brains
  • It works with both small and large groups
  • It sharpens students’ listening skills
  • Students are not required to speak until they are ready to, therefore creating a “safe zone” that greatly lowers inhibitions and stress
  • Students will appreciate the change of pace and potential for humor.
  • Kinaesthetic learners (who respond well to physical activities) and visual learners (who learn best with visual cues) will get a lot out of TPR.

You can find out more about the other teaching styles in my post, Teaching English Abroad.

Student Topics.

You can start by selecting a topic that your students enjoy. It may be movies, video games, or anything else, and you’ll use it as a springboard to create your own “learning” around it. It’s critical to pick something that the pupils, not you as the teacher, are interested in.

Playing Games.

Bring your classroom alive by playing learning games. Make sure your games are both age-relevant and lesson-relevant. They should not be used as just having fun, there should be some learning intent involved with the game or activity itself.

So use some of the free resources you can find online and integrate them into your teaching, whether online or in the classroom.

Here is a link to my favorite top 10 websites for teaching English, which includes sites for games and other activities.

It also provides additional links to other online and classroom games and activities.

There are also the more traditional games that don’t need extra resources. This can help when you are teaching a lot of classes with many students in each class.

If you teach in Vietnam, class sizes can get up to and above 50 students per class, it can become expensive if you are constantly handing out paper-based activities.

you can play more traditional games like “Hangman” or “Charades” and “Stop the Bus” and so many more. Have a look here to find some more ideas. How to Engage Your Students


There’s no shortage of places for people to practice their English, from English coffee clubs to online communities like Facebook and Twitter. Furthermore, they may make a great friend along the way. (But please teach some internet safety rules).

Assign a homework assignment in which your student must join an online group to practice English. They may also be able to provide language exchange lessons. Obviously, this is intended for older students and is not suitable for younger students.

You can also get them to watch a movie with English subtitles in the classroom and then ask them to tell you what is happening.

Or translate a comic book into English so you can understand as well. 8-))


There are a lot of things that we can do to help our students, we are only limited by our own imagination.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL/ EFL for over 15 years and have my own school in Vietnam. I am also the author of this article and the owner of this website.

You can look at my last YouTube Vlog about TET in Vietnam below.

TET flowers

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.

What are the common problems of an ESL Teacher?

So you want to travel and teach English.

Teaching English as a second language is a difficult but rewarding professional path. You must learn to adapt to your students’ demands as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher.

This frequently entails dealing with a wide range of issues in the classroom, many of which are all too typical. A qualified ESL instructor should be able to spot these typical issues and attempt to solve them.

Even a minor change in your teaching methods can help you and your students work in a more productive and relaxed setting.

Put it in Perspective.

Consider the difficulties you’re encountering in your ESL classroom as opportunities to improve as a teacher and as a person.

When you reflect on your time teaching English in a foreign country, the more difficult aspects of the work will fade away, but the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of your pupils will remain.

Here are some problems you will face.

Whether you are teaching online or teaching in the classroom here are some problems you will definitely come across.

Lack of Resources

So, you’re sitting in your classroom in Vietnam, South Korea, or Argentina, staring out at a sea of eager children. You want to make an impression on them with your lesson planning and teaching abilities.

But there’s one minor stumbling block: a scarcity of resources. If you’ve taught before, you’ll be familiar with the fact that you’re only as good a teacher as you are at adapting to your environment.

Use such recyclable resources instead of store-bought craft supplies, and conduct your lessons with chalkboard drawings rather than sophisticated computer applications.

You can also use printouts from online resources, but if you teach a lot of classes and a lot of students, this will get expensive.

Students don’t know what to do.

When teaching English as a second or foreign language, this happens far too frequently. The truth is that it is frequently the fault of the teacher.

Don’t fret if your directions for an assignment result in puzzled looks and whispers among classmates; there is a solution.

It is critical to ensure that your instructions are clear in order to avoid this issue. Make use of body language, and short, brief statements. Speak loudly and clearly.

And use examples. Model the entire action exactly how you want the students to perform it, you can utilize drawings, gestures, and so on. For example, if you want your students to write, mime writing on paper.

Students are bored.

It is frequently the fault of the teacher that class is boring. Fortunately, this issue may be resolved with good planning. Choose a topic for the class that is relevant to the students and one you are confident they will enjoy.

Make sure it’s acceptable for the child’s age and level. Cooking and recipes are not something you can teach a 7-year-old.

Your classes will be more enjoyable by introducing games, regardless of students level or age. This will naturally pique their interest and motivate them.

Also, try to know your students and determine their interests and requirements before planning your lesson.

Lack of student self-assurance

This is a very prevalent issue among ESL students. Many students lack the courage to improve their speaking skills.

When it comes to learning a new language, extroverted pupils may not appear self-conscious, but they can also experience the crippling effects of shame and lack of confidence.

Students’ growth can be impeded if they lack the confidence to take risks and make mistakes.

Asking your kids about their original language is one method to assist them to overcome this.

Allow them to teach you a few words in their native tongue.

Not only will this instill confidence and pride in your kids by allowing them to share a piece of their own language and culture.

It’s also a terrific chance for you to demonstrate to them how to deal with the inevitable blunders that come with speaking a foreign language. Laugh it off and keep trying.

Student Misconduct.

This will happen in every classroom, no matter what. If the entire class is behaving badly, it could be the teacher’s fault, such as a boring subject or poor classroom management.

If it’s just one pupil, you should move quickly to demonstrate who’s in charge. In order to tackle the problem, an ESL instructor must be stern and, if necessary, impose discipline.

Use peer pressure and make the entire class write lines to punish them. They’ll make sure the student doesn’t do it again.

They’ll make sure the student doesn’t do it again. If this behavior continues, you may want to talk to your school support.

However, I have found if you keep the classroom activities fun and interesting you will not have many problems. And once you have set the ground rules the students know how far they can go.

Every now and again you may need to pretend to be angry to bring the class back in line. This is something you will learn in time.

No English in class.

ESL teachers appear to want their students to speak English in the classroom all of the time for some reason. Teachers refuse to acknowledge that an ESL class is a long way from a natural language learning setting. And if the “English Only” notion rears its ugly head, take a deep breath and relax.

Consider the following before getting all worked up because your pupils aren’t fluently conversing in English all of the time in your class. They can certainly make you feel better by explaining a word, and this will inspire students to use English more often.

Using a translated word is also often faster than trying to explain a difficult word or concept, regardless of what you’ve been taught.


It can be challenging to stay motivated and interested in your class. What’s more difficult is being in charge of keeping pupils interested and motivated. This is, first and foremost, an ESL teacher’s task.

To be an excellent ESL teacher, you must not only instruct but also motivate and encourage your students. The purpose is to motivate pupils to want to learn, speak, read, write, and understand English.

Who Am I?

My name is Stephen and I have been teaching ESL/ EFL for over 15 years and have my own school in Vietnam. I am also the author of this article and the owner of this website.

You can look at my school below, before opening, after being locked down because of Covid sanctions.

My School

Any or all links on this site may be affiliate links, and if you purchase something through those links I will make a small commission on them.

There will be no extra cost to you and at times due to my affiliation, you could actually save money.

You can read our full affiliate disclosure here.