Published 18th April 2018

There is no doubt that teaching English as a foreign language is a dreamy job. You basically get paid to spend your days hanging out with some cool people, playing games and having a fat chat. Ok, so there might be a bit of paperwork involved and some planning, preparation and marking, but other than that it’s really just a whole lot of fun and games.

Just kidding! To be honest, though it most definitely has its perks, being a TEFL teacher is a job, so you will experience difficulties and challenges just as you would with any other job. The difference is that as an EFL teacher these difficulties will be in the classroom rather than the boardroom. Here are three of the most common problems EFL teachers face in the classroom.

So much to plan, such little time

In the beginning it will feel like you are planning more than you are teaching because it will take you ages to plan even a 30-minute lesson. This may seem like a waste of time and energy but it is most certainly necessary in order to be able to carry out engaging and effective lessons. Don’t let this dishearten you; be comforted knowing that planning takes a long time for all of us when we start but it’ll get quicker over time.  Once you have done it a few times, you will get the hang of it and will soon be able to plan a lesson in record time.

Too much time in class

At the same time, no matter how much you plan there is always the chance you will have an extra five or ten minutes in your lesson which you haven’t planned for. Don’t panic, this is not uncommon. To make sure you utilise that time appropriately, have a bunch of quick activities up your sleeve for just such occasions. Revision games work especially well in these circumstances.

Mixed levels in one class

Though your class may be a Pre-Intermediate or an Advanced class by name, chances are there will be some students in your class who are not the exact level of the other students. Perhaps they are a bit lower or a bit higher in their level of English. There is not much you can do in these cases (besides moving them out of your class if possible) but if you find yourselves in this situation you will need to cater for all your students’ needs. How you can do this if your students are at differing levels is to pair up stronger and weaker students, have extra activities for the stronger students or have alternative materials for the lower students.

As a teacher you need to be prepared for any situation, but these three seem to be the most common problematic scenarios. As with anything in TEFL, if you are prepared, mentally and otherwise, then they won’t be as destructive as they could have been.