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What makes a good ESL teacher?

    What makes a good ESL Teacher? In this article we will share 10 qualities of Great ESL teachers. The one quality mentioned in all other stories on the topic mentions ‘passion’, that will NOT be in this one!

    What makes a good teacher?

    What makes a good ESL teacher – If I read one more article that says passion I’m deleting my internet.

    Today I will share 10 qualities that great ESL teachers possess …. Except for passion

    Communicate Clearly

    Good teachers speak at a slower pace so that their students can follow, pronounce words clearly and refrain from using regional slang. You are the source of English in the classroom. It is your responsibility to be understood in the class so speak at your students’ level and at a pace that makes them feel like English isn’t that hard. Use a vocabulary that they understand. About 90% should be common words while they are getting comfortable with the language and 10% new vocabulary to broaden their lexicons.

    Get Students Talking – Increase Student Talking Time

    Ask questions and do activities that let them interact with the language. That is your most important job. Motivate your students to speak, ask them questions and give them enough time to answer. You can even scaffold the lesson by writing vocabulary on the board first to help them construct sentences. Play games and praise them when they come out of their shells. Language isn’t practiced in the head… Get them talking.

    Control the Classroom

    This is one of the scariest for new teachers in the class, managing difficult classes. The best way to do that is to keep students engaged and have structured lessons so that students know exactly what is expected of them. Have rules and procedures to keep order but focus on leading the class in an engaging way. If they have fun they won’t have time to cause trouble.

    Build Relationships

    When students like you they will open up and give you their best. Before class starts or when they enter the room ask them questions about their lives. How are they doing? How was their weekends? Anything special happening that week? Get to know them by showing you care, do that and they will move mountains for you.

    Use Collaborative and Fun Activities

    For younger learners use games, songs and chants. Flashcard games, board races, phonics hoops and flyswats. At that early age you want to make learning fun by using these activities, especially with young Phonics learners.
    For older students you should let them interact with friends. Use surveys, roleplays and other team-based games.
    By making class fun and interactive students will learn better and teaching will be a breeze.

    Be Prepared!

    Prepare for each lesson and have back up plans for when you get a last minute class. Be sure of your schedule and have your week planned out. If possible, Go over the grammar points that you will teach in each lesson and have examples ready to explain to the students. An organized teacher is a good teacher, so have all your paperwork in pristine condition.

    You are the Messenger, not the message

    You aren’t the only source of language. Many teachers think that their word is law. Be modest – You only have your own experience. Find other sources and expose your students to different ideas. I‘ve seen many teachers only use topics that they are familiar in or find interesting, which deprives your students from experiencing the bountiful knowledge that exists in the world. Good teachers are constantly searching for new ideas and content, they open themselves up to other perspectives and cultures then explain it clearly to their students.

    Understand your Student’s Culture

    There are certain words and linguistic issues that are more prominent in different countries. In Korea for example students find it difficult to add “s” to He walks to school or calling girls he in stead of she. Also, respect your students culture understand how to interact with them accordingly. If possible let them share it in class and integrate their history and views into your lessons. Learning through their experiences will internalize English and make it part of their lives.

    Be a Storyteller

    The best teachers are able to weave interesting stories into their classes. It could be from their own lives or fictional tales. Why is this important? Listening is the very first skill that language learners practice. If you can tell interesting stories that captivate your audience, students will learn and enjoy class even more. We have to remember that stories are also the original way of learning and preserving culture. Within stories are words, grammar and themes that are transferred to your learners in a compelling way.

    Be enthusiastic!

    You think I’ve saved the best for last? Haha – You’re wrong. Gotcha. Enthusiasm is a cheap alternative to passion. You remember- At the start I claimed that passion is a horrible answer… But I have hoodwinked you and placed it as the final quality that great ESL teachers possess. You’re going to do the same thing over and over again. Stuck in the classroom with many students that are unmotivated, doing the same activities, conversations, facing the same problems every single day. The only way you can make this kind of live bearable is to have and enthusiasm that motivates to continue being an educator. It could be – A passion for the language, a passion for the students you teach or a passion for the process of teaching someone something new and watching them succeed.


    It is your responsibility as a teacher to get the best out of your students. As an language teacher you should help them open up and guide them to improve their language skills.

    Do that by communicating clearly, increasing STT (Student Talking Time), controlling the classroom, creating fun and engaging activities, being prepared, focus on interesting topics, understanding your students’ unique culture, being an engaging storyteller and being enthusiastic in the classroom.

    Whatever your reason is, make sure to remind yourself about it every day to be the best ESL teacher for your students.

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