What are the common problems of an ESL Teacher?

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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

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