How can you combat the common challenges English teachers face in physical classrooms? Here are proven and tested solutions!
As good and as promising as this career sounds, many would agree that teaching English as a second language comes with various struggles as well. Among the common classroom challenges English teachers face are lack of resources, limited personal time, a large number of students, excuses, etc.
In this post, we have compiled the top reasons that makes English teaching a tough and challenging profession. We also prepared a list of tips and solutions that can make the ordeal easier and more fruitful for teachers and students alike.
Common Problems Faced by English Teachers
1. Disturbing environment
No doubt, the learning environment plays a huge role as to whether the teacher or the students can focus on the lesson. Is the classroom a quiet and peaceful place to do the teaching? Are the students having trouble listening because there are distracting factors within or outside the school? How about the noise? As most English teachers claim, a comfortable learning environment is a necessity in terms of teaching the language.
2. Lack of teaching resources
The teaching profession mostly depends on a variety of resources. The same principle applies to English teaching. While there is a global effort to teach English as a second language, not every government can support its education on a full scale. Some places lack resources such as computer systems, microphones, speakers, and other digital devices. Private or freelance English teachers might capitalize on this equipment, but that would mean charging their students with high fees to meet their expenses and compensate for their knowledge.
3. The high number of students
Teaching English to a student on a one on one basis is hard enough; how about if there are 50 or more eager learners? Admit it or not, a lot of disturbance can spring from a large number of students. The teacher needs to double the effort. Let’s say, for instance, there is no microphone, and there are limited printed modules to distribute. There is no digital system in place. Can you imagine how hard it is to keep the students listening and engaged? Furthermore, having many students means a teacher would need quite a long time to assess each and everyone’s learning progress.
4. Wrong/Inappropriate syllabus
Teachers primarily depend on the syllabus, a guide they use to determine the appropriate level of topics or subjects they will teach to their students. However, even the professionals in the teaching industry are prone to making mistakes as well. It could be in printing or sending the syllabus, but regardless, once a teacher depends on the wrong syllabus, a web of problems can arise that can ultimately affect the learning progress. Furthermore, it can also mar a teacher’s reputation and credibility.
5. Not having enough time for lectures.
No matter how excellent an English teacher is, teaching a universal language cannot be done overnight. Teachers need time to observe and assess their students and establish a teaching method appropriate to their level. According to English teaching experts, the standard time students spend on a single subject in most classrooms is not enough to complete the topics of designated lectures. The more eager students turn to online teachers or to English tutors who can spend more time teaching them in exchange for a price.
6. Low level of interest and engagement from students
Despite the apparent benefits of learning the English language, many students still lack the interest to understand it. As a result, they often hijack the lessons and do other kinds of activities that prick their interest. Some would even show up late or not attend the class at all. This attitude makes it more difficult for teachers to conduct a meaningful lesson. The ordeal becomes even more challenging when there is a large number of students within a classroom.
7. Using the student’s native language in the classroom
Perhaps this issue can take the first spot in the list of top challenges faced by English teachers in physical classrooms. With no or limited English knowledge, students would naturally use their native tongue to communicate with the teacher and their fellow students. Of course, it comes easy for students to do this. Despite having an “English Only” policy, the natural tendency to use one’s native language is always there. It presents a barrier that English teachers must break before they could successfully teach the lessons.
8. Students rely heavily on teachers.
While it’s natural to depend on English teachers to learn a foreign language, some students do it more than what is necessary. Either they find the language challenging to learn and understand, or they are not interested at all. Most students also believe that English teachers would think twice of failing them since it would reflect on their performances or success rate as professionals.
The points listed above are the most noticeable and sometimes persistent challenges English teachers often encounter. But as always, if there is a problem, one can only think of a solution.
Things to Do to Combat Common Challenges in English Classrooms
Promote healthy competitions among the students.
Competition plays a crucial role in teaching the English language. With an added thrill in the classroom, students become more interested in answering quizzes and participating in learning activities such as debates. However, English teachers must carefully balance the competition among students to ensure that it would fuel them to use the language better instead of breaking them apart.
Use modern devices if possible.
While there is nothing wrong with sticking with the traditional teaching methods, it’s safe to say that we have to adapt to the ever-changing world. As gadgets and devices continue to take the educational sector by storm, English teachers have to catch up and use the gift of technology to their advantage. It’s worth noting that there are multimedia equipment and other modern systems specifically made for teaching. For instance, instead of just relying on what is written in the books, you can use visual images with catchy sounds or videos.
Use a well-designed syllabus.
Any kind of work would be a lot easier if you have the right tool, right? The same goes for teaching English. If you have a well-crafted content planner, you will find it easier to stay on track and discuss your student’s lessons step by step. This guide can also help you track the progress of your students in a more comprehensive way. Furthermore, since your syllabus is designed so that it is appropriate to your students’ skill level, you would avoid getting wrong impressions.
Engage students in conversations using the English language.
English teachers have to be strict in grammar rules. However, it doesn’t mean that it has to be that way all the time. After the lecture, English teachers must allot time for casual conversations. It would help the students feel more comfortable using the language without fearing that they might fail. Most of the time, the students are afraid to speak in English because they are afraid to say it wrong. During this time, the teachers can casually correct the students without pressure.
Teach English through fun and interactive games.
Learning should be fun. When students feel that they are enjoying an activity, they will be more focused on the task. When it comes to teaching English, teachers can take advantage of using games as well. It can be an individual ordeal or a group game. Today, there is no shortage of online games that can help students enrich their English vocabulary, improve their grammar skills, and enhance their fluency.
Implement strict but healthy rules and time table.
English teachers must implement rules within the classroom. There should be time tables, and the students must observe and follow them. For instance, tardy and noisy students must know that there are designated punishments for their attitude. The teachers may also ask the students to switch off their gadgets such as mobile phones. They could also defer them from speaking to fellow students while the lecture is ongoing, and do their homework and submit them on time.
Addressing the common challenges English teachers face within a physical classroom is vital for two reasons. Apart from improving the teachers’ retention rate, it also helps improve ESL students’ success rates, which ultimately empowers the quality of education.
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