How To Handle Frustrated And Difficult Students In An ESL Classroom?

20th April 2024

It can be particularly challenging to determine why and how to assist pupils who are having difficulty learning English in the classroom. For English language learners, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about services and supports. There are a lot of things you as an educator who is equipped with a Master of Arts in Education with TESOL can do for your students. If you want a positive learning environment and want your ESL classes to be a little less difficult this year, read on.

How To Deal With Frustrated Students?

Here are some quick fixes you may do if you notice pupils becoming agitated:

  • Play Music

In the ESL classroom, use music to get students more excited or to help them relax if they're already agitated. Establishing the proper energy levels before to starting training is crucial for determining the proper speed and preventing dissatisfaction later on.

  • Take Breaks

For a few minutes, set a timer and transport everyone to a simpler, happier environment. Play a soothing English song, allow smaller kids to color, and assign older pupils to copy a section of writing into their notebooks. Look into other therapeutic activities you might implement in the classroom to help kids unwind and process some of the new material they have acquired.

  • Play Games

Making ESL games out of subjects you think your students will find tedious is a terrific approach to defuse tension and boost engagement in the classroom. Gamification can bring humor into the classroom and create a positive learning environment since stress hurts our capacity to learn and create new memories.

  • Switch Tasks

Sometimes it's ideal to postpone the discussion to a later time when your pupils will be less anxious and more open to learning.

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4 Common Challenges Faced By ESL Students And How Educators Can Help

Here are a few common challenges faced by ESL students while learning a new language that can make your classes difficult:

1. The Learning Plateau

Most students pick up a language rather fast in the first few months of study. Any learner who is ready to put in some work may memorize, practice, and understand fundamental tenses and essential vocabulary. However, after this first burst of fast learning, students need to put their information into context and make a significant transition into natural discourse. At this point, several challenges emerge that collectively create the dreaded learning plateau: unclear learning objectives, low confidence, and a dearth of opportunities for one-on-one language interaction, to mention a few.


You as an educator can help the students by:

  • Breaking things down and asking them to take one step at a time
  • Organize your lesson objectives into realistic and specific goals
  • Avoid aiming for an ill-defined idea of fluency and structure your class around attainable objectives
  • Navigate successfully between English and grammar
  • Decipher the words correctly in short speaking segments

2. Lack Of Confidence

This is a very typical issue that ESL students deal with. Many pupils lack the courage to practice speaking, especially those who are already bashful in their mother tongue. Even though they might not come off as self-conscious, extrovert students might experience the crippling consequences of humiliation and low confidence when it comes to learning a new language. The ability of pupils to take risks and make errors can be a major hindrance to their advancement.


By switching roles, you may help your pupils become more accustomed to making mistakes while they experiment with the intricacies of the English language. Change things up from continually being the teacher and judge of appropriate language use! Find out about the native tongues of your pupils. Allow them to instruct you in the right speech. This is a great way to teach your students how to handle mistakes that come up when speaking a foreign language just brush them off and keep trying. It will also give them confidence and pride in being able to share a bit of their language and culture.


3. Virtual Learning Fatigue

For both young learners and adults, attempting to stay attentive during a lecture while seated in front of a computer may be quite difficult! While some students need to be in constant motion to study, others long for face-to-face communication with their classmates. Learning on a computer just makes attention insufficiency worse for those who already suffer from it. Don't be upset if your pupils seem even more aloof than normal if your class comes after hours of other Zoom lessons. There are things you can attempt to get everyone back together, even if they're all looking into space or perusing the internet.


Here are a few things you should do while teaching English online:

  • Be organized, active and make your classes interactive
  • Be vigilant when your students begin to lose interest and use a warmer to make them active
  • Call on your students more frequently and add plenty of activities to keep them engaged

4. Overscheduling

Be mindful that your lesson can be activity number 15 for them that day, whether you're teaching small children or working adults. In an attempt to keep their children occupied and assist them in discovering their passion, many parents enroll their children in a plethora of before- and after-school activities. Some parents take their kids to extracurricular activities and work late, which prevents them from spending quality time with their families after school. Adults may be returning to the classroom from an exhausting workday. Your kids are probably anxious, worn out, and unable to concentrate if they have too much on their calendar.


Discuss your pupils' life outside of the classroom with them. Talking about everything they've done and everything they still need to accomplish can be helpful for worried or overburdened kids. React emotionally and listen compassionately, but refrain from offering guidance or critiquing their time-management abilities. For smaller students, you may construct a puzzle or read aloud a short book in place of asking them about their day.

Make Your ESL Classes A Little Less Difficult Than Last Year

The most crucial thing you can do, whether you're an experienced teacher with a Master of Arts in Education with TESOL or are teaching online or in a traditional classroom, is to regularly check in with students to see what obstacles they're currently encountering and to be persistent and resourceful in helping them overcome them. If you have happy students’ your classes will be less likely to turn out tricky and challenging.

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Written By : Sanjana Chowdhury    Share

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