How to Help ESL Students Build Their Language Skills

As a teacher, we can imagine that some days are more difficult than others. Sometimes it’s stressful in seeing students who have worked so hard on their English and still not gained enough fluency, that you feel at a loss regarding how to help them further. These feelings happen when you really care about and are really invested in your students, and that’s a good thing. Before you give up or admit defeat, here are some ways that you can really encourage your students and get them over the hump to learn and speak better English:

  1. Stay positive: Being positive in a classroom makes students feel more comfortable, and when they are comfortable, they learn well. This is the case in ESL classes as well. So be positive, and keep your cool while teaching.


  1. Celebrate success: Celebrating success tends to work significantly better than (negatively) reprimanding a student at times of failure. In rewarding or acknowledging their accomplishments, you build their confidence and make them more prepared for the next challenge.


  1. Do not correct language errors: When you tell a student up-front, that they are wrong, you risk them becoming defensive regarding it. Instead, work as if you are on their side, and help them realize their mistakes all on their own.


  1. Adjust workload: Try not to push ESL students too hard. While you don’t want to baby them, it’s important the remember they’re still learning to comprehend basic English, and learning a language does not come easy to most. If you see them trying, and still struggling, adjust their workload so they are not overwhelmed.


  1. Reference subjects they relate to: Today’s students when things that they care about outside the classroom are talked about inside the classroom. Leverage this. Talk to them about their favorite singers, trending books, popular movies, and they will be more apt to pay attention.


  1. Introduce friendly competition: Give students competitive challenges that double as language-building activities that way they grow their English skills while enjoying themselves.


  1. Play songs: Monotonous course material can make most students check out. And while they may not pay complete attention to music playing in the background, their ears will still tend to pick up on English lyrics.


  1. Incorporate video lessons: Having a TV or Laptop in the class with good video lessons can grab the students’ attention like nothing else.


  1. Tap into real life experience: Using real life situations works well for students who lack enthusiasm. Have students give directions for a place they have visited, or make them describe their best friend. When you make it real, it becomes more relatable.


  1. Use the English Tutor software for ESL by Exceller: Students with Apple mobile devices (like iPhone or iPad), can access our downloadable Exceller apps on Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary Acquisition and Pronunciation Practice as well as apps that cover many English Grammar topics. Our ESL software downloads and resources (both web-based and mobile apps) have been specifically designed for ESL learners and have dramatically improved understanding and retention in students.


To find out more about our English Tutor for ESL and Exceller ESL software, or to purchase our apps, visit our website or contact us today.

Leave a Reply