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The 5 Most Common Types of EFL Students and How to Deal with Them

The 5 Most Common Types of EFL Students and How to Deal with Them | ITTT | TEFL Blog

So you have got your TEFL certificate in hand and are about to set foot into your very own classroom abroad. You have planned your lessons, created your teaching materials and marked the right pages in your textbook. There’s only one more thing to consider: challenging students! Here are the 5 common types of EFL students and how to deal with them in the classroom.

1. The Dominator

Every teacher loves students who are eager to learn and enthusiastic about your lesson. However, there’s often a student in a class that demonstrates his/her eagerness in a destructive and disruptive way. This student may call out all the answers to your questions before raising their hand or end up telling you all sorts of stories about what they did or where they went taking up a lot of class time. This often discourages quieter students from participating and should, therefore, be minimized.

How to deal: Set up clear rules that students must raise their hand and cannot yell answers out. Students who break the rule will face consequences. Most dominators don’t have bad intentions but just love speaking in English. Therefore, it’s great to pair two dominators together as a team during activities.

Also read: Top Mistakes to Avoid in the Classroom While Teaching English Abroad

2. The Class Clown

This has got to be the most stereotypical student - and every class has one: the Class Clown. This student loves getting attention and making the class laugh. This is funny every once in a while but very disruptive if it happens all the time or the jokes turn out to be inappropriate or hurtful.

How to deal: While you might think ignoring the student would be best, this often results in more clowning around. As the Class Clown needs a lot of attention, it’s the best approach to physically move toward the student. You can walk over and stand by him/her when handing out worksheets, for instance. Also, be sure to praise him or her for good work. Simply give the student attention in effective ways.

3. The Silent Student

Especially when teaching English to speakers of other languages, there may be a couple of shier students in your class. There are several reasons why some students might not be as talkative besides general shyness: a preference for listening and observing or even a fear of making mistakes.

How to deal: Encourage the Silent Student by calling them up during class every once in a while. If that fails, try to speak with the student after class and see why they aren’t participating. Maybe they aren’t even aware that they are passive. Group work is also a great way to get shier students involved, so try to incorporate a group activity every once in a while. Another helpful strategy is to ask students to write down answers to your questions by themselves and have them participate in that way.

Also read: 10 Tips To Help Your Students Follow Directions When Teaching English Abroad

4. The Translator

In most EFL classrooms, the aim is to speak as much English as possible. This works great until you meet the Translator. This student takes every English word you present to them and automatically translates it into their native language. This is not that big of a deal until the student starts translating questions you ask the class that you actually want them to process in English.

How to deal: While it’s usually discouraged to translate in the EFL classroom, some students just learn better this way. Have a conversation with the student in private and ask him or her to write down the translation instead of yelling it out for the courtesy of the other students in the classroom.

5. The Arguer

The Arguer is often a teacher’s nightmare as he or she loves to challenge you in a lot of aspects. This type of student pays close attention to grammar, vocabulary and just the English language as a whole and they love sticking to the rules.

How to deal: The first step is to always remain calm and patient and never argue back. Next, you can present evidence for your point instead of saying “I am the teacher.” You can also then ask the Arguer to offer examples to demonstrate his/her own point and then the discussion is usually over very quickly when they realize they aren’t actually right.

Also read: Top Online Lesson Plan Resources for New and Advanced Teachers

Are you ready to teach English abroad?

Knowing what challenging ESL students you can expect and having a plan for dealing with them can make your classroom much easier to manage.

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