Sunday, July 7, 2013

What Makes a Good ESL Teacher?

by William A Lake

Many people decide to become ESL teachers for a number of reasons. Some of them turn into great ESL teachers, whilst others don't really have it in them.

They might think to themselves that teaching ESL is a great lifestyle and they want to give it a go, but fall short because they don't possess the qualities of what makes a good ESL teacher.

This article will explain my personal thoughts about what I believe are some good qualities that every ESL teacher needs.


This is probably the biggest quality that any teacher needs. Students learn at varying speeds and just because one student doesn't get something that you think is obvious, you need to give them time to find the right answer.

Some teachers lose patience with their students and this is not acceptable. Different students don't understand everything in the same way, as a teacher you need to change your style of teaching to ensure that each student understands you.


Some people feel uncomfortable talking in a large group of people and just can't do it. If this sounds like you then you should probably accept that teaching isn't for you.

Your job in the classroom is to teach and all eyes will be on you. If you don't like this kind of attention then teaching definitely isn't going to suit you.

Good Communication

You need to be able to communicate English clearly, not just with your students but also with your colleagues, managers and sometimes parents. You need to be able to communicate your message in a way that people can understand.


You don't just need to be dedicated to your job, but you also need to be dedicated to your students to help bring the best out in them. If you don't care about your students, you aren't going to be an effective teacher.


As an ESL teacher you might find yourself with lots of different things to do in the course of a day. You'll have different classes, homework and exams to mark, you'll need to prepare your class activities, and a whole lot more.

Being organised will surely make your life a thousand times easier and you can devote more time to becoming a better teacher.

Here are just a few personal thoughts of what I think are some of the qualities needed to be a good ESL teacher. This list is non-exhaustive and teachers need to be many things during the course of a day.

You'll need to listen, control, communicate, teach, understand, coach, persuade, empathise, sympathise, and a whole lot more!

William Lake is an ESL teacher and Lecturer of TEFL. He has been teaching for a number of years and has provided some more advice about what he thinks are the qualities of a good ESL teacher on his blog which you can find by clicking this link.

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