Published 18th September 2017

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Regardless of how cushy teaching English as a foreign language may be, it’s still a job and it involves learners, so it was never going to be plain sailing. Even if you’re teaching adults, you’re still likely to encounter a number of problems in the classroom. Of course there are definitely more than five problems you may experience in the EFL classroom when teaching abroad, but these are by far the most common.

My EFL Learners Always Speak Their L1

Especially if you are teaching English in a monolingual classroom, your learners are bound to fall back on their first language to communicate. This is only natural. If you want to say something you would usually find the easiest way to say it, which for our learners would be their first language. Of course, translation in the EFL classroom is not always a bad thing, but if your learners are speaking more, say, Italian than English in your classroom then it’s an issue.

My EFL Learners Won’t Behave

Probably more of an issue with Young Learners or Teens, discipline issues can disrupt your lessons and destroy your calm, learning environment. Make sure whatever action you decide to take is in line with your school’s policy, but before you act, take some time to try figure out what the root cause of the problem is. You may need to take a certain individual aside and have a friendly chat with them to get to the bottom of it.

My EFL Learners Don’t Do What I Ask

Considering that your learners are learning English, there are going to be many times when they don’t do what you ask of them. This may not be out of disobedience but out of a lack of understanding. They are not going to understand everything you say all the time and it is up to you to make sure your instructions are clear, to the point and repeated until your learners have completely understood. 

My EFL Learners Are Always Late

Tardiness can be disruptive to your classroom when you are forced to restart your lesson or recap an explanation to the latecomers. It can be difficult to juggle those learners who are on time and those who arrive ten minutes late but it is also necessary to make sure that your learners are all on the same page in the lesson – you can’t ignore the latecomers because they won’t be able to participate in the lesson. At the beginning of every term or whenever you have a new class, set the rules for late coming and stick to them. It may seem harsh but it’s a matter of respect to you and to the other learners that the lesson starts on time. Which also means you can’t be late!

My EFL Learners Are Bored

You can’t please all your learners all the time, but you can plan EFL lessons to the best of your ability to prevent your learners from becoming bored. You need to take into consideration the different interests and abilities of your learners, which is usually done with a needs analysis.

As we said before, these aren’t the only problems that you’ll find in the EFL classroom when teaching English abroad, but at least now if you experience any of these you’ll know what to do.