One of the most fulfilling occupations you can pursue is teaching, yet success in this field takes more than simply academic proficiency. Teaching English as a second language in a foreign country can be daunting, even for experienced instructors. Regardless of the subject being taught, teaching comes with all kinds of challenges – children with different learning styles, and knowledge and you must adapt to the differences while ensuring each learner benefits from the lesson and doesn’t fall behind. For ESL (English Second Language) teachers, imparting this knowledge can be rewarding to both teacher and student.

ESL teachers

English Second Language teachers are also known as TESOL, EFL, and Literacy teachers. ESL teachers can work in their own countries or choose to teach abroad. They also have the option and flexibility to teach remotely or in front of the classroom. ESL teachers can teach children and adults, in private lessons or small groups to help them improve their reading, writing, and speaking skills.

These individuals have roles that go above and beyond just teaching. They are educators, mentors, and supporters, and sometimes serve as friends in the lives of their students. They help their students gain confidence in learning and speaking a new language and help prepare their students for their transition to living in an English-speaking country.

ESL requirements and tasks

To become an ESL teacher, many countries require an undergraduate degree, fluency in English, a valid TEFL certificate, and some in-class ESL training. For teachers who choose to work online, computer literacy and strong written and verbal communication skills are important. Cultural awareness, problem-solving, and classroom management are also handy skills to have for all ESL teachers.

ESL instructors are responsible for preparing lesson plans and customising their plans to accommodate the different learning styles as well as preparing students’ progress reports. Added to this, teachers grade papers and meet parents and members of the school body.

ESL resources for the classroom

Learners need a learning environment that is both engaging, fun, and educational. ESL teachers need a variety of methods to capture their students’ attention and ensure the learning material is absorbed by every student. No two classrooms are the same. In one, you may find a group that doesn’t pay attention unless they are participating in a specific activity or lesson. In other classrooms, the students fully engage and do well when doing any activity. Whichever class you have, you need a rich collection of go-to resources to help you plan your lessons.

We’ve found some useful resources ESL teachers can use to expand their knowledge and develop new teaching methods and techniques.

Online courses

Alison has several online courses that can help broaden your teaching English journey. These include:

  1.  The Crucial TEFL Guide: The Crucial TEFL Guide will teach you all the strategies, methods, skills, and technical know-how of how to successfully teach ESL with optimal results. You will also learn how to instil the right attitude in your students.
  2.  Guide to Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL): Being able to communicate and the ability of your students to comprehend what is being taught is mutually inclusive especially if you are an English Second Language (ESL) teacher. This free online teaching course offers you insightful, practical guidelines and techniques to help you on your teaching career path.
  3.  Introduction to Teaching English as a Second Language: This course lays out the five stages of second language acquisition. We provide practical tips to show you how to help learners reach these stages in your classroom. We also examine the needs of adult English as a second language (ESL) learners and compare various learning styles. We then describe activities and exercises that can improve students’ English language abilities.
  4.  Teaching ESL using Games and Activities:  This free online course is designed to help English Second Language (ESL) teachers worldwide find more exciting and fun learning methods through interactive games and activities. The language barrier poses a lot of difficulties in one’s ability to communicate and express oneself. This course will help you keep your pupils entertained and engaged throughout your learning plan.


The classroom is a healthy learning ground for both students and teachers. There are a host of informative books you can read on teaching English as a second language. Some of these are, Teaching English as a Foreign Language for Dummies by Michelle Maxom, How to Teach English by Jeremy Harmer, and Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. These books cover common mistakes made by students, lesson planning, games, and activities to play, and how to manage a classroom with different child age groups and capabilities.

ESL classroom tips for a successful lesson

As fulfilling as teaching is, it can be challenging. On top of the resources, you have at your disposal, here are additional tips to make the classroom an effective learning environment for you as the teacher and your students.

  • Keep it simple. Use simple vocabulary when teaching beginners and gradually introduce new words as you build on the lessons.
  • Have visuals. Use pictures, drawings, handouts, and label desks, and chairs for easy identification of physical objects.
  • Have fun. To get the best out of your students, make your lessons fun. Play games, and music, or introduce activities to keep your students interested.
  • Create a safe space. Have a space where your students feel free to express themselves and aren’t scared of making mistakes.
  • Set goals. Encourage your students to have individual learning goals that you can all track throughout the year. This will also guide you in creating lessons appropriate to their learning objectives.

Each ESL instructor has their own unique teaching style. But whatever that style is, the above resources and tips can help you build a good rapport with your students and make your ESL career exciting and bring joy to your classroom.

If the ESL career sounds exciting but you’re unsure if you have what it takes to succeed, take our free workplace personality assessment below. This test enables you to realise your career dreams by providing you with an extremely accurate report of who you are. Discover your professional strengths and weaknesses and receive course recommendations to prepare for your next steps.


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