Teaching English as a Second Language

How to Be a Better ESL Teacher


ESL teaching gigs are growing more popular over the past few years because of the advent of home schooling and online classes. The digital age has enabled a lot of us to work from home as ESL Teachers and because of this, the competition can be quite tight. Moreover, being an ESL online teacher means that you are subject to evaluations every now and then so you have to be really good at your job to keep it. 


In this article, you'll learn that teaching is not just about transferring knowledge to your student. How effective you are will depend a lot on some other factors that we're going to teach you. 


Here are some tips on how you can be a better ESL teacher.


Use Visual Aids

A lot that goes into teaching English comes from the way you speak and how your student listens. If in any case you're teaching a beginner or someone who doesn't have an auditory learning style, then you're obviously going to have to get creative with how you communicate. 


Fortunately, you don't need to be super artistic to be able to make visual aids that work. There are many free ones you can download online or web-based tools such as Canva to help you make your own with pre-made templates.


Pictures, charts & graphs and even mouthing your words are considered as a visual aid. If you use this technique, a student will be able to retain information better because images help recall. In the long run. not only does this make you an effective ESL teacher, it also makes your job easier. 


Smile More

Smiling is a universal language. No matter what dialect one speaks, he can surely interpret what a smile means. 


Remember that one of the biggest hurdles to a teacher-student relationship is the lack of rapport. Establish a better bond with your student by smiling more. It makes your student comfortable with you and cultivates an environment where you can become more approachable hence creating a higher quality learning experience.


Empathize and Have a Pleasing Personality

It's easy to lose your patience when teaching English because this is a language that we know by heart. And when a student doesn't understand us, we start to become too transparent showing how we're losing patience and making them feel like they've failed. 


Always put yourself in your students' shoes and go the extra mile by always having a pleasing personality even if you're losing it. Level with them when you speak to them so that they don't get too intimidated and block off the learning. 


Speak with Emotions

The mastery of the English language does not only involve knowing how to say words but also knowing the tone of how each conversation should be. It's easier for students to compartmentalize and remember what they've learned if they put emotion into it. 


For example. no one says "happy birthday" with a condescending tone. Just like all celebratory greetings, it must be said enthusiastically. 


Have Different Learning Goals

One of the most common mistakes of newbie ESL teachers is that they don't have a full grasp on how much a student really understands. Many students, even if they don't speak English, are actually very smart. Hence, they can comprehend your lessons fine but they are just having a hard time applying it. Meaning they understand a word and what it means they just don't know how to use it yet. 


Your job as an ESL teacher is to see to it that a student both comprehends the language and know how to use it. Don't feel discouraged because they can't do the other, it's a process you need to be patient with. 


Let Students Take Over

It's helpful for classroom setups to have students work on something together. When your students discuss things amongst themselves, they get a fresher perspective of the topic at hand and that may just be what it takes to understand. 


In fact, some teachers admit to having students take over some class discussions because there is always something to learn from someone else, even if they're younger than you. 



Successful ESL teachers are great at what they do because they respect their students. They don't see them as merely a source of income but a person who they are responsible for - a student that relies on them for progress. 


Start by addressing your students with their name. Make an effort to learn how to pronounce their names. Look at them when you speak to them and listen to them attentively when they have a question. And when they do, and this is really important, NEVER INVALIDATE THEIR INQUIRY. Let them know that it's okay to ask for clarifications and that you're there to help them understand. Even a nod every time they speak will be highly appreciated. 


Also respect their speed in learning. It's different for everyone and try to remember when you were trying to learn something new. 

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