Teaching ESL: 10 Common Problems in the Classroom

Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Teaching English as a foreign language is a challenging, yet rewarding career choice. As an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, you must learn to constantly adapt to your students' needs. Many times, this means dealing with a variety of problems in the classroom, many of which are all too common occurrences. A good ESL teacher must be able to recognize these common problems, and work to find solutions. Even a small tweak in your teaching methods can help to create a more productive and casual environment for both you and your students. The following will outline 10 of the most common classroom problems faced when teaching English as a foreign language, and just how to solve them.

10 Common Classroom Problems

1. Students become overly dependent on the teacher.

Many times, students will automatically look to the teacher for correct answers instead of trying themselves. If the teacher obliges them with the answer each time, it can become a detrimental problem. Instead, focus on giving positive encouragement. This will help to make students more comfortable and more willing to answer (even if incorrectly).

2. Persistent use of first-language

When teaching English as a foreign language, this is possibly the most common problem. As an ESL teacher, it's important to encourage students to use English, and only English. However, if students begin conversing in their first language, move closer. Ask them direct questions like "do you have a question?" Another idea is to establish a set of class rules and develop a penalty system for when they use their first language. For example: if someone is caught using their first-language three times, have them recite a poem in front of the class (in English). Remember, for the 1-2 hours they are in English class, it must be English only.

3. Student is defiant, rowdy, or distracting of others.

This will happen, no matter what, in every classroom. If the entire class is acting up, it may be the fault of the teacher, i.e. boring material or poor classroom management. If it is one particular student, you should react swiftly to show dominance. In order to resolve the issue, an ESL teacher must be strict and institute discipline if needed. If it continues to happen, further disciplinary action through the school's director could be pursued.

4. Students "hijack lesson"—The lesson doesn't go where you want it to.

When teaching English as a foreign language, you can always count on students hijacking a lesson. To some extent, this can be a good thing. It shows that students interest, and as long as they are participating and conversing in English, it is a productive experience. However, if the lesson strays too far off topic, in a direction you don't want it to go, it's important to correct the problem by diverting the conversation.

5. Personalities clash.

Not everyone in an ESL classroom will become the best of friends. If drama arises between certain students, the easiest solution is to separate them from one another. If the tension persists, switching a student to another classroom may be your only option.

6. Students unclear what to do, or do the wrong thing.

This happens far too often when teaching English as a foreign language. The fact is, it's often the fault of the teacher. If your instructions to an assignment yield looks of confusion and soft whispers among students, don't worry: there is a solution. In order to avoid this problem, it's important to make sure your instruction are clear. Use gestures, mime, and short concise sentences. Speak clear and strong. Most importantly, use models and examples of the activity. You can use pictures, miming, gestures etc. to model the entire activity exactly how you want the students to do it.

7. Students are bored, inattentive, or unmotivated.

Many times, it is the teacher's fault that class is boring. Fortunately, with proper planning, this problem can be solved. Choose a juicy theme to the lesson; one that the students can relate to and one you know they will enjoy. This will automatically give them some motivation and interest. Get to know your pupils and identify their interests and needs, then design your course accordingly.

8. Strong student dominance

As an ESL teacher, you will encounter learners with different capabilities and language skills. While it is good to have some students who excel in the classroom, it is important that they don't take away from others. If certain students begin to constantly "steal the show," take care. Focus on calling on weaker students in the class to answer questions. Encourage, but gently deflect some answers from the strong students and give production time to other not-so-strong members of the class.

9. Students are unprepared.

The last thing you want as an ESL teacher is for learners to drop out simply because they felt lost and/or unprepared. Concentrate on a more shared learning experience. Make sure students are all on the same page before moving onto a new topic by concept checking multiple times, and encouraging individual participation.

10. Tardiness

Even I have a hard time arriving places on time. But the truth is, tardiness is not only rude, it can be distracting and disruptive to other students. If tardiness becomes a problem for members of your class, make sure they are disciplined. Set rules about tardiness and penalties for breaking them.

The Goal of Teaching

Staying awake and interested in class can be difficult. But what's even more difficult is being responsible for keeping students awake and interested. This is the job of an ESL teacher first and foremost. In order to be a great ESL teacher, one must not only teach, but inspire and empower. The goal is to excite the students about learning, speaking, reading, writing, and comprehending English. Keep the advice in this article as a tool to be used often, and you will be one step closer to that goal.

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Comments 139 comments

dkrainwater profile image

dkrainwater 6 years ago from Sheridan, Wyoming

ESL is as difficult to teach as special ed in my opinion. Great hub, keep doing what your doing.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

dkrainwater - thanks for the comment. i have never taught special ed but i can imagine it as having it's own set of unique challenges just like teaching esl does.

Medkh9 6 years ago

oh nice hub i like it , am a teacher too of english as a second language and i do feel the content of your hub so much.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

Medkh9 - happy to hear you can relate. thanks for reading

aprendeingles 6 years ago

Brilliant hub - I have been teaching for nearly seven years and love every minute of it - it´s satisfying and rewarding and has produced a change of career for me using assets I never knew I had. Your tips were spot on!

PassinItAlong profile image

PassinItAlong 6 years ago

Insightful hub!

Couldn't agree more,choosing a juicy theme to the lesson will keep them interested,especially in giving them their reading choices for home practice.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

Passinitalong - Thanks for the comment. It makes sense right? Keeping kids interested is all about being interested. Thanks for stopping by

PR_am profile image

PR_am 6 years ago from Oregon

Thanks for sharing this. Let me add that it's an added advantage when the teacher has a little knowledge of the student's first language. Even though it's nearly impossible for the teacher to be multi linguist.

In my case, i have taught ESL to a class populated dominantly with German students. And being able to use German morphology and sound system to relate to English sounds helped a lot.

I totally agree that positive remarks win the students hearts (even when it's obvious they are doing poorly) statements like "You're doing awesomely well and has improved in such a short time but..."

This sort of remark puts the class on your side and makes teaching and learning curve fun.


Dchosen_01 6 years ago

hmmm! I can really feel the experience in this hub. You expressed yourself as though you are part of the student. You must really be a great teacher then. Its really interesting reading this and I think not only for ESL teachers but also on a general note, other teachers can learn some certain technicalities here.

Its a great hub I must confess, keep it up!

eastexplorer profile image

eastexplorer 6 years ago from Shanghai, China

As an English teacher in China, I can really appreciate what you have to say! I will try implement some of your advice in my future lessons! Thank you!

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

PR_am - I agree, while knowing the students first language isn't necessary, it can definitely help when trying to teach certain aspects, like pronunciation. Thanks for reading!

Dchosen_01 - I realized the same thing after I wrote this hub. Much of the advice can really apply to all teachers across the board. Thanks for reading and becoming a follower...

eastexplorer - That's what it's here for my friend...I'm glad you can find some use out of it. I've been thinking of teaching becoming an east explorer myself someday soon...going to check out your hubs now. Thanks

cooperfsu profile image

cooperfsu 6 years ago from Valencia, Spain

I enjoyed yoiur hub. I think you have some good ideas.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

thanks cooperfsu - that's what i'm hear for...

Artoflegendindia 6 years ago

Great hub.I appreciate your hub.really such problems create in classrooms.I have been teacher also.i know your feelings about your hub.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

thanks artoflegendindia - i'm glad you could relate. thanks for reading

shellyakins profile image

shellyakins 6 years ago from Illinois

I think that the ideas you present here apply to any well taught classroom in any subject. In today's classroom, teachers are often faced with students of all levels and abilities including ESL, special ed and gifted students all trying to learn the same material. These tips are good teaching tips for all levels.

As far as disruptive behavior goes, I think finding the source of the disruption (frustration, boredom, problems outside of class etc.) goes a long way toward getting the behavior in check.

shellyakins profile image

shellyakins 6 years ago from Illinois

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

shellyakins - thanks for the input. i think everyone would agree with you that finding the source of the disruption is def. the first step. thanks for reading and commenting...

map65 6 years ago

thanks for the great info!

glenn wallace profile image

glenn wallace 6 years ago

Great hub! I can honestly say that if I had read this back when I was teaching ESL, it would have made my life a lot easier!

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

thanks glenn wallace - to bad its a bit too late. i'm glad it at least could have helped...

belliott profile image

belliott 6 years ago

Looks like good advise no matter what class is being taught. Well done.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

belliott - You're absolutely right. I feel like changing the title of this article because you aren't the first person that has made that observation. While it's useful for ESL teachers, it's also mostly true and useful for really any teacher... Thanks for reading.

ESL Teacher Paul 6 years ago

Good points about students hyjacking classes. I agree this can be constructive once in a while as long as you retain the ESL course structure.

mossy123 6 years ago

I am very pleased with the effort and don’t feel like adding

anything in it. It a perfect thing which is being done. Keep the good work

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

esl teacher paul - Good point as well. thanks for reading

mossy123 - I try not to put out any incomplete or mediocre work. I'm glad that you saw the effort I put into this, and all hubs. Thanks for the comment.

Contrice 6 years ago

I totally agree with you on most of your issues that can occur in the ESL classroom, however; could implementing a penalty for using the first language send a message that they should be embrasses of their native language or that something is wrong with it.

Aussieteacher profile image

Aussieteacher 6 years ago from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

There are many issues to consider in the ESL classroom. I have taught in China, and there the biggest issue for me was the large classes - impossible to make much headway with 45 students in 45 minutes! In China it is a struggle, though a tremendous challenge. Thank you for your informative hub.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

Contrice - In theory, yes. Still, the point of teaching English as a second language is to, well, teach english. In the 1-2 hours they are in the class room, I think it's fairly reasonable to require students to speak English, in the remaining 22-23 hours can be spent speaking their native language with no embarrassment. From my first-hand experience, both as an ESL teacher and a second language learner, this is my opinion. Thanks for the comment.

Aussieteacher - This is an aspect I didn't take into account on this hub. My experience only deals with teaching ESL to Spaniards. Different places means students with different values, cultures and I guess, different problems in the classroom. Thanks for the comment. Good luck in China.

italianizeyoursel profile image

italianizeyoursel 6 years ago

This article is very informative. Thank you for posting the additional resources.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

italianizeyoursel - I'm glad you found it useful. Thanks for being here.

silaja 6 years ago

i don't like this

ESL teacher Tom 6 years ago

Very useful list especially for new English teachers. Most people assume wrongly that teaching ESL will be an easy ride or just a means to travel. I encountered a number of them when I started 4 years ago. Now I have experience most a fairly minor things.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 6 years ago from California Author

silaja - Sorry to hear that. What don't you like?

ESL teacher tom - That was my initial thoughts on teaching ESL. Once I started getting into it I realized it was much harder than that, and being a good teacher would take some effort. Thanks for the insight buddy...

TEFLStudent 5 years ago

These are such great tips! It's also very useful to attend a good TEFL/TESOL certification program. Take a look at my hub for some tips on how to evaluate programs.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

TEFLStudent - glad you found them useful. I will do that...

teacher5159 5 years ago

Having spent several years teaching ESL in Japan I've come across most of these problems at one stage or another. Problems 2 or 3 tend to go hand-in-hand, and are made more difficult to deal with when you are teaching at a public school and your options for maintaining class dicipline are limited.

jtrader profile image

jtrader 5 years ago

When the teacher is enthusiastic about the material, students take on that enthusiam.

SUSIE DUZY profile image

SUSIE DUZY 5 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

Great Hub. English is probably the most important thing for kids to learn if they want to make their way in the world. They need to communicate, be able to write intelligently and know proper grammer. Keep on!

nicnac profile image

nicnac 5 years ago from Ireland

as a teacher am impressed with this hub!! thanks!

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

teacher - True, but they are still common problems nonetheless. I'm happy to see you on a few of my teaching related hubs. Thanks

jtrader - That could be said for almost anything in life. True enthusiasm is contagious. Thanks for the comment.

susie duzy - Thanks!

nicnac - Hopefully you found it useful, I know these problems occur elsewhere and not just in an ESL classroom. Thanks for being here.

PatrickNormandin profile image

PatrickNormandin 5 years ago from New York

Great hub for sure! Teaching English as a foreign language is really difficult since the students would need an English logic. English senteces are built in a completely different way from other languages.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

patricknormandin- very true. the other thing about English that confuses are numerous facets that go without explanation or defined rule of usage. I can't think of an example in my head, but the question is always the same - "but why?" it just is. it's just English. period.

nicnac profile image

nicnac 5 years ago from Ireland

am a new science teacher but Have been thinking about teaching English as a foreign language so this was very informative, thank you!!

iamageniuster profile image

iamageniuster 5 years ago

I've had all these issues when I was in ESL 10 years ago. Thanks for sharing.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

nicnac - I would recommend it to anyone who is thinking about it. Glad I could help a little. Thanks for the comment.

iamageniuster - You're welcome. Thanks for reading

TravelinAsia profile image

TravelinAsia 5 years ago from Thailand/Southeast Asia

I spent 5 years as an ESL teacher in Thailand, and it was a wonderful experience. It is nice to see you offering usefull info for those who teaching. Thanks for the good read!

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

travelinasia - I'm trying. Thanks for the comment.

jtormey profile image

jtormey 5 years ago from Atlanta

great info on ESL. It's a very challenging subject.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

jtormey - Thanks for reading...

AlexCM profile image

AlexCM 5 years ago

Great hub. I am currently in South Korea teaching and understand most if not all of these points. Keep up the good work, new teachers need hubs such as these.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

alexcm - Thanks my friend. Good luck in South Korea

gypsumgirl profile image

gypsumgirl 5 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

I think the most important thing to do to avoid the 10 points you make is to engage the students...using, of course, ESL strategies as well as engagement strategies...

Kagan's strategies really help engage ESLs.

Thanks for the information and discussion.

deblipp profile image

deblipp 5 years ago

I memorized my school time.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

gypsumgirl - Good point. Thanks for sharing...

deblipp - I don't get it? But thanks for reading.

kaoskakimu profile image

kaoskakimu 5 years ago

thank you! very useful.. i'll definitely recommend this to my teacher friend... :)

Earthmother Mara 5 years ago from South West England

In an ESL class, I find it important to provide some loud response time to encourage the quiet mouses to practice without drawing attention to themselves. To help the quiet, shy students, pairs or small groups have to be monitored closely and selected carefully at first.

In all teaching, I find clearly defined short term goals, clearly stated, followed by plenty of positive reinforcement lead to success.

mecheshier profile image

mecheshier 5 years ago

What a wonderful Hub. Thank you for such great insight.

poojabrahmi profile image

poojabrahmi 5 years ago

After becoming a mother I also search for ways by which I can teach my 1 1/2 year old son a few things. Though your post is for how to make teaching interesting in a classroom but some of the points are even helpful for my baby boy. Wonderful post.

williamcr profile image

williamcr 5 years ago

I am considering doing some ESL teaching. I found your page here extremely helpful. You provided some really good food for thought, without everything being dry. Thanks

mviadam profile image

mviadam 5 years ago

I learned a foreign language in 3 months, complete fluency by immersion. Unless someone is forced to speak the language to get by, they won't develop their skills very fast.

JodiVee profile image

JodiVee 5 years ago

This is an interesting look into ESL teaching. I've thought of this as a career path, but I really don't think I could manage a whole class. One-on-one would be easier ;)

htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Great info Thanks for sharing

seebasic profile image

seebasic 5 years ago from Germany

Thank you for sharing this wonderful information

THE DIVINE YOU. profile image

THE DIVINE YOU. 5 years ago

Wow... We can apply these techniques to the learning of other languages...

willdr8k profile image

willdr8k 5 years ago

i wish my teachers cared this much about their lessons

Spicy Flamers 5 years ago

Nice I like it. You should check out:

jennifer_brooke profile image

jennifer_brooke 5 years ago

Great information - I was also an ESL teacher and find this extremely accurate to my own experiences as well! Thanks for the thoughtful and useful post for teachers! (let's not forgot, it applies to us when we are learning new languages too! I *need* to remember this too as I study!!!)

dpatullo741 profile image

dpatullo741 5 years ago from UK

It's good and interesting. I think you have done great effort to share this information.


kims3003 5 years ago

very well thought and written hub. Nice work

munirahmadmughal 5 years ago

"Taaching ESL-10 Common Classroom Problems and Solutions."

The hub is rich in information, educative on all often asked questions, based on self experience, written in a style most impressive, containing tips simple yet most useful and result oriented.

From start till end it is interesting and attractive. The hub is encouraging for the teachers who are the beginners, provides more strength who have been in the field since some time and giving hope to the final stage that there are people who are talented in every age.

Language, its articulation and making the meaning understandable to the others are all divine gifts for which we are to offer thanks to our Creator and all those who have been kind to teach us even a single word. Result oriented efforts, as this hub is, are certainly service to humanity. A breach is removed between two nations when a second language is spoken and understood. The degree of understanding increases when the understanding is rational and reasonable. All light is knowledge. All darkness is ignorance. The hub is thought provoking and opens many vistas telling boldly that to learn or teach second language is not a futile exercise. Nothing in this world is futile. Everything and every action has its utility and usefulness. It is the awareness to use it, it is the art to present it and it is the science to apply it that bring the fruit.

Students are the focus and their potentials are to be understood and realized as it is they whom a wealth of knowledge in the form of second language is being given in the classroom. It is their right and it is the duty of the teacher. To respect the rights brings dignity. The whole concept of rule of law is hidden in it. Civilzations have grown and developed on the basis of languages.

The hub is really great. It merits "Up" by all standards.

May God bless all teachers and all students and those who are benefited by their noble efforts. (Amen).

Trinsick profile image

Trinsick 5 years ago from Cali

I would love to learn ESL, with some of this info I think even at my age I could pick up on it.

Teresa Jackson profile image

Teresa Jackson 5 years ago from Central Oregon

I was an ESL teacher, and your post would be very helpful to any new teachers.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

kaoskakimu - Thank you...I'm glad to hear that.

Earthmother Mara - Excellent added advice that I'm sure everyone, including myself, appreciates. Thank you for the comment.

Mecheshier - ...and thank you for the comment...

poojabrahmi - I have never thought of it in that way. I'm happy to hear someone other than an ESL teacher finds my words useful. Thanks

williamcr - I can't recommend trying it out enough. If you have the slightest desire, which it sounds like you do, then go for it! You won't regret it no matter if you enjoy it or not. I have more hubs on teaching ESL and finding work in Spain...Check them out. Keep me posted on what you do, or better yet, write a hub about it. Thanks man...

mviadam - I couldn't agree more. But if full immersion isn't possible, an ESL class and following some of this advice could be the next best option. Thanks for sharing...

JodiVee - True, one would be easier, but less challenging...and we all know how much fun a challenge can be. Thanks for the comment.

htodd - Thank you for reading!

seebasic - No problem boss. Thanks for reading!

TheDivineYou - Very true...thanks for the comment

willdr8k - In all honesty...although I wrote this hub, as a teacher, I didn't always practice what I preached. In other words, it was hard to follow even my own advice. But hey, we're all human. I'm sure your teachers care...about...something...haha. Thanks for the comment.

Spicy Flamers - Oh yeah? Well you should not advertise on the comment section of peoples hubs just because they have a hubscore of 100, for two reasons: One, I know you didn't even read the hub because the best comment you could conjure up was "nice, I like it." And two, the hub you're advertising sucks...and I am confident that most everyone will agree. But, because I'm so nice, and to ensure you get the credit you think you deserve, I will not delete your comment/advertisement. have been warned. Thanks for the comment

PS. I really am a nice guy.

jennifer_brooke - Most definitely, and thank you for commenting.

dpatullo741 - I try my best. Thanks

kims3003 - I'm glad you can see my hard work. Thanks for reading and commenting.

munirahmadmughal - Wow! How much were you paid to write such a blessed hub response. Without a doubt, this is the most impressive comment I've ever received. It makes me want to read more, write more, and just be a better person...thank you.

Also, speaking of removing breaches between nations, how do you pronounce your name?

trinsick - Judging by your typing skills, it looks like you are on your way. Thanks for the comment

Teresa Jackson - That's what I'm hoping. Thank you!

dpatullo741 profile image

dpatullo741 5 years ago from UK

Again I have read your article to take some guidance.

Many thanks buddy

mike6181 profile image

mike6181 5 years ago

I gave serious consideration to ESL for Costa Rica to support a "retirement" there. Looks like the skill of teaching goes beyond knowing how to speak my own "first language"! I've been trying to see how success might be achieved as a hub writer by going to high scorer's hubs. This read has really impressed me. Excellent organization and clear writing. A great "how to"!

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

dpatullo741 - nice. glad I could help. Thanks for the comment

mike6181 - Although I'm only 24, I am giving serious consideration to that as well. Hopefully the hubbing works out. Thanks for reading


whatyouwant!!! 5 years ago

thanks for the hub my mother was a teacher but now shes a sub you should write an article about why teachers are getting laid off

Hezekiah profile image

Hezekiah 5 years ago from Japan

Nice HUB, I have had some experience here in Japan. I believe one big problem is if they know that you understand their native language!!!

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

whatyouwant - I should eh? thanks for the suggestion. I think your mother should write it.

Hezekiah - I agree, that is a big problem. I tried to hide my knowledge of Spanish when I was taught in Spain...they slowly caught on though. Thanks for the comment.

Brian S. 5 years ago

Forcing the students to only speak English sends a very bad message. You are telling the student that English is superior to their native language. You should NEVER tell a student to stop speaking their native language. Being bilingual supercedes an "Americanized" education where English is considered superior to all other languages and cultures. This may not be your intention when telling students not to speak their first language, but it is certainly the message they will receive. After all, we are now and have always been a nation of immigrants. It's time we stop pretending that we are superior to other races.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

Brian S - But Brian, It's an English language class. I disagree. For the one, maybe two hours that students are in the class, I think they should speak English. If I were paying money to attend a Spanish class, I would expect to be speaking Spanish in class...maybe I'm wrong...but that's why it's an opinion.

dingdondingdon profile image

dingdondingdon 5 years ago

ESL is a very difficult thing to teach. I don't think "forcing" students to speak English in the classroom is a bad thing though. Anyone who knows anything about language acquisition will know that immersion is the best, most effective way to learn a language: you need to get your brain to start thinking in that language when you're in the classroom. This applies to any language you're learning, not just English. It's got absolutely nothing to do with considering English superior.

marilan profile image

marilan 5 years ago from Central New York

Great job! Well organized and thoughtful. I agree with others who have said that this is just good advice for teachers in general.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

dindondingdon - You say the words I couldn't figure out how to say. I couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for the comment...

marilan - Thanks for reading!

crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Great information,quite appreciate it.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

crystolite - glad you could appreciate it...thanks for the comment.

deltamaster profile image

deltamaster 5 years ago

Nice hub that includes good information

nathandanials profile image

nathandanials 5 years ago from Golden Valley, MN

Thanks for writing a much needed hub. Deserved 100 for sure!

ketou 5 years ago

Great piece. I think teaching a new language is one of the toughest work!

Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 5 years ago from Philippines

TESL is a tough job for non-natives of English, who have to learn the language themselves before they teach it. Most often, overdone drills are risky. Mechanical responses from the learners often results, like, "May I buy it's a pencil?, Can I borrow your this is a ball?, etc." Good hub here!

crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

I believe that English is a foreign language and also challenging,

cashmere profile image

cashmere 5 years ago from India

Excellent Hub! These things must be kept in mind by anyone considering teaching, not just ESL, but any subject

jjessieseo profile image

jjessieseo 5 years ago

wow that is great hubs because many info of this hubs and really I like class image.......

jamiecoins profile image

jamiecoins 5 years ago from ireland

great hub i always looked into tefl as a possible job for travel

SUSANJK profile image

SUSANJK 5 years ago from Florida

Good Hub. Sounds like a great career.

FOREX NINJA profile image

FOREX NINJA 5 years ago

good hub, i believe this is a great business.

rajuan profile image

rajuan 5 years ago

The hub topic is very effective. This subject many many hub writing to you.

Many many Thanks

masaru 5 years ago

Thank you for sharing this information ^^

munirahmadmughal 5 years ago

My comments are on the record. I have also read the comments of other hubers on the subject and their appreciation of the hub has added more and more value to it. Even those whose children are not yet school going have found it useful in various respects.

Teacher is a blessing and a teacher who teaches a language other than the mother tongue is a further blessing.

When children learn a foreign language or second language they are benefited of it throughout their life. The understanding of the culture and living of other people becomes easy for them and they can make their own people understand the foreign people and thus mutual cooperation takes place for the advancement of knowledge and experience among two cultures.

All people are respectable and all languages are respectable being the signs of the Creator scattered through out the universe and heavens all saying with one voice that Our Creator is glorified and Sustainer of all of us. He is the Lord of all Honour.

May God bless all and everywhere.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

deltamaster - Thanks

nathandanials - Thanks for reading

ketou - It is surely not easy. Thanks for the comment.

Lita C Malicdem - Interesting input. Thanks for sharing...and thanks for becoming a follower!

crystolite - Nice seeing you on my hubs once again. Thanks for the comment.

cashmere - Very true, thanks for the comment.

jjessieseo - Thanks for reading

jamiecoins - It really is. That is how I look at is as well. Thanks for reading!

SUSANJK - Could be, yes. Thanks

FOREX NINJA - Thanks for sharing

rajuan - Perfect...Thank you

deskokumanov - Glad I could help. Thanks

masaru - My pleasure...thanks for reading

munirahmadmughal - Wow. Very thoughtful and in depth. Thank you for that, and thank you for reading.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

I have been teaching ESL and EFL for about 15 years. Lately, I've had the problem that a lot of kids only want to play games in class. I'll play a game occasionally, but only when it is reviewing material that the students are learning or should have learned.

jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

Paul Kuehn - I don't see a problem in that. If students are learning without even realizing it, that is ideal. Games are probably the best way to do that... Thanks for sharing

RichardCMckeown profile image

RichardCMckeown 5 years ago

Teaching our children is the best way to make good.

Ben_Anderson profile image

Ben_Anderson 5 years ago from New Zealand, Auckland

I found this article to be absolutely amazing.

I'm planning to be an ESL teacher myself in the future, once I have my 3 year degree and TEFL certificate

These tips will truly come in handy


jdaviswrites profile image

jdaviswrites 5 years ago from California Author

RichardCMckeown - You couldn't be more right...

Ben_Anderson - They will for sure, bookmark them. Thanks for reading and I'm glad you found the article useful

xcentric stylo profile image

xcentric stylo 5 years ago

very nice..... it was amazing to read dix hub ........ good work...

me really impressed...hey..i am ur fan now...

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

You really took my back to the two years I taught English in Saudi Arabia to Arab women. When they'd get bored, I do a lesson on idioms. It was always fun and I learned as much about their language as they did about mine.

Tardiness was a problem because they didn't see it as a problem. Also all late comers announced their presence with a hello to the class and everyone in the class responded. It was a cultural thing I had to get used to. It was rude to enter a room and not speak to those present.

It was a great experience though. You reminded me. Thanks

Freegoldman profile image

Freegoldman 5 years ago from Newyork

Teaching ESL is one of the most difficult jobs.Specially when U are engaged in teaching the primary section.U really need to be patient enough as its not a matter of joke.Moreover when its the second language.Great Hub.Loved reading it.Keep it up.

robsims profile image

robsims 5 years ago

The cartoon hits the nail on the head.

Eoin 5 years ago

I teach in Asia for esl students and also they only wnt to play games which i think is good,, because when they are excited about learning something they want to do it more....for example play a game with the students and always asking them questions wile playing the game this s the best way to teach them i find

ftclick profile image

ftclick 5 years ago

I enjoyed teaching one-on-one to adults or a 2person group. An adolescent class would be rough for me to handle.

Fiacre 5 years ago

Great HUB but I think every article like this should be very clear whether you are offering advice for multilingual or uni-lingual situations and whether it is in the county with the foreign language or in an English speaking country. I have taught in all and the difference is huge. The biggest problem by far in a non-English speaking country is going to be the public school administration - not the students.

gramarye profile image

gramarye 5 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

I teach ESL to adults, and sometimes have students with some of these traits. Thanks for the hub!

bjornborgboxers profile image

bjornborgboxers 5 years ago from The Netherlands

Good Hub. Excellent for the teachers among us!

mary-lambert profile image

mary-lambert 4 years ago from Charlotte, NC

ESL students? I think you just identified the problems many students have, included myself. Unfortunately the ESL teacher at my local school simply played board games with students last year. I'm hoping for some good instruction this year with the new ESL teacher or the NCLB police will come take my job.

maya diana 4 years ago

thanks for sharing...this information can help me better in my classroom management next year .

htodd profile image

htodd 4 years ago from United States

That's really nice

dona 4 years ago

thank u 4 giving d informations about the problems faced while teaching english.....

oliver121 4 years ago

I have just started teaching in a primary school in china i have 95 kids per lesson and even the chinese english teachers cant control them very well any advice?

lizatev 4 years ago

Thank's for the article. I fully agry with your vision of a process of teaching FL. But in my case, the usage of the pupils' first language is necessary. WHY? I am a teacher of English from Russia. I work in a state school with the children of the 2nd till the 10th forms. We have only 2 hours of English for the primary school stage. When I give new vocabulary to these pupils I have to write not only the transcription of word, but I also write the reading of the word with a help of Russian letters in order students should understand and remember the pronunciation. It's not enough for the pupils,eg., of the 2nd or 3rd form just to hear my pronunciation of the word for remembering it. What shall I do instead of this? Can you help me?

Java Programs profile image

Java Programs 4 years ago from India

Hi jdaviswrites,

yes it is difficult deal for a teacher to teach English as second language. The high use of first language makes it even more difficult job ...

Great info ..... keep the good work up .....

totoorcullo 4 years ago

nice !!! thank you !!!

Visola 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing the information, i'm going to include the info into my project("effective techniques in teaching culture in ESL classroom), don't you mind?

christian yow sang 4 years ago

i am a teacher since 1991 in Mauritius Island

Meet me on facebook group " Teachers Problems" and Education Problems "

christian yow sangg

English Rose 4 years ago

wow, thank you so much for posting this! I am writing a paper on the problems and solutions of the esl classroom, specifically in Korea, where I have been teaching for almost 3 years. I thought it would be too easy to simply write about the problems so I am excited by your solutions and such honesty! Thank you!

Zam 4 years ago

After working at many ESL schools over the years, I've come to the conclusion that ESL is largely a racket. The teacher gets screwed from both ends--by the students who are never happy with the class, and by the school who jerk you around like a plug and play toy. The students know they have the control, and can complain and have you replaced with another teacher. The school has to please the students, so the "customer is always right--even when they're wrong" mentality prevails. From my experience teaching ESL, the only way ESL teaching works is with NO school middleman. It needs to be ONLY you and the student to work. I hate ESL schools, they are all a bunch of assholes, always screwing you around, always shorting you, always fucking with you. Thoroughly embittering. Another great idea is to find another way of making money altogether, as ESL is a shit wage, living hand to mouth. If you love being a human doormat, then by all means ESL teaching at a school is for you!

catherina 4 years ago

thanks for share....

Matthew Bamberg 4 years ago

I wouldn't recommend a penalty like the reciting of a poem as punishment for speaking Spanish.

I think rewards when they speak English is the best route to take with students in an ESL class.

eslinsider 4 years ago

Yeah I just don't allow the students to speak their native language, unless they raise their hand and ask. If they don't then they get a warning and if they do it again I give them a small penalty. I make them stand on their chair with one leg for ten minutes...haha...J.K. It's not actually that mean, but I made some instructional videos and wrote about this.

Muhammad fahim and Kramadin Muhammadi 4 years ago

We've read your important and useful advices,they were really learning points.we will try to act exactly what you mean. As an ESL teachers in lovely Afghanistan.

dwachira profile image

dwachira 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Hi jdaviswrites, these are great teaching methods, i have learnt a lot from this hub, thanks. Voted up, useful and shared with followers.

PayopyJaX 3 years ago

My partner and i accustomed to acquire high on existence yet these days I've truly established a new opposition.

Dr. Arthur Ide profile image

Dr. Arthur Ide 2 years ago from Iowa

Your point about requiring an immersion of the student into the language without the lifeline of returning to the native language is well-reasoned. I teach in Peru where schools and universities (in most South American nations) require or "encourage" teachers of foreign languages to teach them in Castillano (Peru Spanish). This led to garage-universities in Ecuador, where, fortunately, President Correa had the power to close 14 down. Most of the schools are privately owned and like the public schools, especially in the provinces, like Lambayeque, are poorly taught as there are few teachers with any training in the target language but have paper Master of Education diploma and cannot tell the difference between a verb, adverb or gerund. Their students go on to be "teachers of English" and the pronunciation is so bad that it is impossible for me to understand anything said, even though I have been teaching English for nearly 50 years.

Most Peruanos seek only the diploma, and quickly forget what little English is learned. They expect to be entertained, refuse to read,

write, or speak the language, and the administration and owners of the schools and universities accept it, claiming what is important is to get the money so the leaders can run for President of Peru or sit in the unicameral Congress in Lima. Requesting better books, advocating a language learning center, and demanding greater learning skills are met with scorn and rejection, with one large university complex that has octopus tentacles spreading across Perú firing its only qualified academic dean who wanted students to learn, and hiring an "economist" to take his place. Here few to none have a degree in language, as most take their diplomas in education or business and are totally unfit to teach any subject except education (done poorly). It is rare, indeed, to find a subject matter expert, and those who can teach the subject are replaced by those who spend their time teaching methodology, strategies, and pedagogy in the classroom and ignoring the language and its nuances from reading comprehension to spelling, composition, and so forth. You are refreshing.

Dr. Arthur Ide profile image

Dr. Arthur Ide 2 years ago from Iowa

The article is splendid. I wish it was that way in Perú.

I have taught English as a foreign language in Perú the last ten years, and belong to most professional associations that are centered around English instruction. The problem in Perú's schools, especially in the provinces, is that most ESL, TESL, etc. teachers are native-speaking Peruanos who have a modest knowledge of the English language, but concentrate on methodology and strategies. In Perú most teachers only have a basic level of study and knowledge in Education, and prefer additional courses in pedagogy and methodology instead of learning subject matter.

Having the earned doctorate (Carnegie-Mellon University) and numerous publications (including the book Business English: from Grammar to Writing), while I taught at Universidad César Vallejo in Chiclayo, I was tasked with teaching English grammar, investigation using English as the primary tool, reading, writing, and other similar courses, to the teachers (profesors/profesoras) at the University. The course was obligatory.

There was an average of 10 teachers (highest was in 2014, when there were fourteen teachers), plus the Directora who complained that the faculty did not like me as a teacher since I did not "give high grades" and therefore few attended, in the class. Fewer than three teachers ever passed the course but afterwards were assigned advanced courses in English.

The teachers I taught did not know the difference between adverbs and adjectives, nor understand their use in a sentence. Their students were even less learned than the teachers, and English as a foreign language fell to a nadir I was unaccustomed to finding in a classroom.

If teachers knew English and not just methodologies on how to teach it, Perú would not be in last place with PISA or other agencies that judge the level of knowledge. Learning a language is a full-time experience and can be accelerated with use in other subjects. Strictly to pass a course in English to get a degree, such as at USAT, USS, and other schools, is a waste of time.

keepexploring profile image

keepexploring 2 years ago from World

Hi, I'm web developer and I have created a tool for teachers called It's a tool, which helps teachers easily create offline tests.

At you can add questions and invite your friends to work together. Become colleagues and you will be able to copy each other’s questions. Imagine this: you have 5 colleagues. All five enter 20 questions about your topic and boom! You have 100 questions. All 5 enter 20 more and you have 200 questions. In short: exponential expansion of your questions bank. After having questions, you just filter out what questions you need, select them and click "make a test". Done. You have fully randomly generated tests with answer sheet on the separate page. Download it as a Word file and if you need - edit it, share via email, send via Facebook, copy to your USB stick or just print it out immediately. It is an old good MS Word file. Do with it whatever you need.

It would be a pleasure, if you would try it out and write a review in your hub. is a free tool to make a better tomorrow in education, so thank you for your support.

sara 18 months ago

after doing TESOL certification courses you can choose to teach English jobs in abroad with which you can explore and meet to the many people's and can explore different culture as well.

kendre 17 months ago

Thanks for sharing this needy may help to the teacher....

MelindaJGH 12 months ago

I am certified to teach English 7-12 and Business, but I was laid off by a NYC school that fired untenured teachers at higher step pay levels because of multiple Masters degrees. Your article resonates with me, as I have substituted for ESL teachers in two districts and I encounter ESL students in my mainstream classes.

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