Saturday, April 12, 2008

Common English as a Foreign Language Classroom Teaching Problems and What to Do About Them


Not “In It” For the Money
Most practicing English language teachers, especially EFL teachers are not “in it for the money”. Instead, they have other aspects of teaching English as a foreign language that reward or satisfy them such as shorter work weeks, extensive vacation and holiday schedules, and travel abroad opportunities, among many others. Nonetheless, EFL learners can irk even those with the patience of Job.

Here are three distinctive examples of EFL classroom-related problems and some suggested management strategies for them:

1. Students Don’t Have a Course Book
This can be an especially acute problem when teaching a course book-based program.

Try some or all of these strategies:

• Write all key lesson material on the board for learners to view and perhaps copy into their notebooks
• Project course book pages on a screen or the board using an Overhead Projector (OHP) or opaque projector for learners to note key items and exercises
• Make use of realia or alternative teaching methods for the theme being taught

2. Students Don’t Prepare Properly for English or Foreign Language Classes
If the number of class contact hours per week is very low, say for example less than four or five hours per week, there may be few other options available to the teacher outside of assigning homework or projects to be done outside of class hours. If EFL or foreign language learners consistently come to class with incomplete or undone assignments, both they and you suffer the results. So why not try “prodding” them gently by:

• Giving frequent or regular written and oral reviews
• Scheduling mandatory tutorial or listening laboratory sessions
• Announcing a quiz for the next , or soon upcoming class

3. Students Regularly Copy the Work of Others
Foreign languages in particular, require individual effort and participation to acquire. Simply copying the work of other learners will not promote foreign language acquisition.

• Give learners individual workshops (or worksheets) which are not identical to be completed in class and outside of class hours
• Assign individual or small group projects to EFL learners
• Use individual-based web quests as assignments
• Use dynamics and practice materials prepared in class for each learner or small groups

Other Problems Exist
While surely a multitude of other EFL related classroom problems exist, those presented here are among the fairly common ones. Depending on the regulations of the institution and the government where you may be teaching, some of these suggested solutions may be more or less practical than others. What are YOUR solutions to these or other EFL teaching classroom problems that YOU have? Although there are aspects EFL teachers dislike about students, there are also aspects that EFL learners dislike about EFL and foreign language teachers as well. We’ll consider some of these in upcoming articles.


Prof. Larry M. Lynch is an EFL Teacher Trainer, Intellectual Development Specialist, author and speaker. He has written ESP, foreign language learning, English language teaching texts and hundreds of articles used in more than 80 countries. Get your FREE E-books,"If you Want to Teach English Abroad, Here's What You Need to Know" or "7 Techniques to Motivate Your English Language Learners and Make Your Classes More Dynamic" by requesting the title you want at: lynchlarrym@gmail.com Need a blogger or copywriter to promote your school, institution, service or business or an experienced writer and vibrant SEO content for your website, blog or newsletter? Then E-mail me for further information.