Two characters talking about teaching English as a foreign language

Teaching English as a foreign language can be a difficult task, but it can also be very rewarding. It is important to be patient with your students and make sure that they are following your lessons. It’s also necessary to use different teaching methods, such as games, projects, and activities in order to keep your English learners interested and engaged in the language learning process.

With these guidelines in mind resources at hand, you will be well on your way to becoming an effective English language teacher for non-native speakers. Let's take a closer look at the teacher's journey ahead of you!

What is English as a Foreign Language (EFL)?

English as a Foreign Language (EFL), or English as a Second Language (ESL), are both terms used to describe the teaching and learning of English in contexts where it is not the first language of the students.

In other words, EFL is the teaching and learning of English in countries where English is not the native language, i.e., teaching English to speakers of other languages.

There are many reasons people might want to learn English as a foreign language. For some, it is a requirement for employment or getting a college degree. Others learn English to travel and communicate with people from different cultures. Whatever the reason, learning English as a second language is a noble cause.

How to Become an Effective ESL Teacher

Most teachers know that explaining even the most basic rules to non-native English speakers, regardless of whether they're attending an elementary school or secondary education, is different from teaching those who live in an English speaking country.

Here are several essential things you should possess in order to become one of the best language teachers for your future students, whether they are children or adult learners:

Necessary Qualifications

In order to teach English as a second language, you will need to obtain the necessary qualifications. You need a Teacher of English as a Foriegn Language, or TEFL, certificate. There are a number of ways to get it, such as taking an online course or attending a training program. A CELTA, TEFL, TESOL certification will make you a certified ESL teacher, enabling you to teach English abroad to international students. Of the three certificates, CELTA is the most widely accepted.

Furthermore, becoming a certified TEFL teacher will allow you to work with online English schools, which often require previous teaching experience and some kind of a teaching license or at least a bachelor's degree from a university where English is the first language.

Of course, the best way to become an ESL teacher is to have a degree in education. It will come in handy if you want to work in US public schools or private institutes.

Although ESL teachers are not required to hold state certification, many schools insist they do. Some schools even require a master's degree, so you should check the necessary qualifications with the schools you’re applying to.

Also, if you're not a native speaker yourself, you can turn to bilingual education to teach English in two languages to those who speak your own language. Sometimes it helps students when you explain things in a language they can understand.

Patience and Understanding

One of the most important qualities of an effective ESL teacher is patience. It is important to be patient with your students, especially speakers of other languages who are struggling with the material or experience language barriers in the classroom.

Remember that it takes time for some students to learn, and creating a safe and supportive environment where there is no shame in asking for help should be your top priority.

In addition, it is also important to be understanding. Many English language learners come from different cultures and backgrounds. It is important to be aware of cultural differences, be respectful, and make sure that they understand your lessons.

Two characters preparing for teaching English


There are many different teaching methods that you can use in order to teach your students effectively. While you’ll want to make sure your lessons are compliant with school standards, you should try to use a variety of techniques to keep your students engaged.

Some methods that you may want to consider include:

  • classroom discussions,
  • games, quizzes, and other activities,
  • visuals.

It is also important to make use of different educational materials, such as textbooks, worksheets, and online resources. By using a variety of materials, you will be able to engage all the different types of learners in the classroom.

Classroom Management

While it is important to be patient and understanding, you also need to be consistent in maintaining a productive classroom. . It is crucial to make sure that students follow your lessons and do their homework. Disorganized classrooms can halt the learning process.

Proper classroom management is one of the most crucial parts of the learning process, as it allows you to keep English language learners engaged, organized, attentive, and academically productive. Remember, to effectively manage a classroom, you need to understand the dynamic of the class. You can’t use the same classroom management techniques for children as you do adults.

Tips for Teaching English as a Foreign Language

When teaching English language learners from all over the world, you should make use of different teaching methods, games, and activities to keep your students interested and engaged in the learning process. Here are some practical tips you can use:

Plan and Prepare in Advance

One of the keys to being an effective teacher is planning and preparing your lessons in advance. This will ensure that you are able to cover all the necessary material and that your classes run smoothly.

You should also create a variety of materials, such as handouts, PowerPoint presentations, and games to use in your lessons. Try to create a balance between different activities, such as speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Some online language schools provide their ESL teachers with a set lesson to teach, but you should also review lessons in advance to always be prepared.

Use a Lot of Visuals

Another helpful tip is to use a lot of visuals in your lessons. This can include gestures, pictures, diagrams, charts, and other visual aids. Visuals are especially helpful when teaching new vocabulary words. You can also use them to review material covered in previous lessons.

Characters learning English as a foreign language

Make Your Lessons Fun

One way to keep your students engaged and motivated is to make your lessons fun. There are a variety of ways to do this, such as incorporating games and puzzles into your lessons. You can also use humor and storytelling to make your lessons more enjoyable.

Set Classroom Rules and Enforce Consequences

It is also essential to set some ground rules for your classroom. This will help to create a respectful and positive learning environment. Some things you may want to include in your rules may consist of:

  • no talking while the teacher is talking,
  • raising your hand if you want to speak,
  • no interrupting each other,
  • always be polite to others.

If rules are not followed, it is important to enforce consequences, which can range from a warning to being sent out of the classroom. This will help to ensure that your rules are taken seriously and that students know what they need to do to follow them.

Use Interactive Activities

Another great way to teach English as a second language is to use interactive activities. These can include group work, role-playing, and other hands-on activities. Activities that get students talking to each other are a great way to get them involved in the material and to allow them to practice using their new language skills.

Encourage Questions

Finally, it is important for ESL teachers to encourage questions from their students. This shows that you are open to feedback and care about their progress. Asking questions also allows students to clarify anything they may be confused about and deal with any possible issues, whether it's a complex grammar unit or a lack of vocabulary, as they arise.

Helpful Resources for ESL Teachers

There are a variety of resources available for English teachers who want to broaden their knowledge, acquire new teaching techniques, and have all the necessary English materials at hand. Here are some of the best ones:

Different methods of learning English as a foreign language


You can find many different websites with handy materials for teaching and learning English. Some of these resources include:

  • Ellii (former ESL Library). This website offers a variety of resources for ESL teachers, including lesson plans, worksheets, grammar prompts, flashcards, and more.
  • This website provides a wide range of classroom materials for busy teachers, including worksheets, creative writing prompts, and coloring pages to print.
  • TeachingEnglish from the British Council. The British Council offers a variety of resources for ESL teachers' personal development, including podcasts, case studies, webinars, and more.


If you are looking for some good books on teaching and learning English as a second language, here are a few of the best ones:

  • How to Teach English by Jeremy Harmer. This book is considered a classic in the field of ESL teaching. It covers everything from planning lessons to using games and activities.
  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language For Dummies by Michelle Maxom. This book is an excellent resource for new teachers. It covers topics such as planning lessons, teaching grammar in a logical and accessible way, and coping with different age groups and capabilities.
  • Practical English Usage by Michael Swan. This book is a must-have for any ESL teacher. It covers common mistakes that students make and how to address them.

Online Courses

There are also a variety of online courses available for ESL teachers that can help you learn more about English language teaching.

One of the most popular ones is Coursera’s Teach English Now! Teaching Language Online – an online course that helps English teachers understand the basic principles of Second Language Acquisition and how they apply to ESL learners online.

You can also look into TESOL/TEFL or CELTA/DELTA courses that provide professional development for teachers of English or browse platforms like Udemy to hone your skills in different teaching methods.

These are just a few of the many resources available to help you teach English as a foreign language effectively. With a little bit of effort, you can find the materials and courses that will work best for your current teaching skills and help your students succeed.


Generally speaking, teaching English as a foreign language is not an easy task. It can be hard to find suitable materials to teach with, but there are many resources and techniques available that can work for you and your students.

If you're interested in becoming an ESL teacher and teaching English abroad, you should have patience and a desire to also continue your education. Make sure to use interactive activities and encourage your students to be proactive during the learning process. You can become an excellent ESL teacher working for public or private schools or as an online tutor.

A character becoming an ESL teacher

You should also consider implementing our Langster app into your lesson plans to diversify your teaching materials. Good luck!

Blog Author Image


Ellis is a seasoned polyglot and one of the creative minds behind Langster Blog, where she shares effective language learning strategies and insights from her own journey mastering the four languages. Ellis strives to empower learners globally to embrace new languages with confidence and curiosity. Off the blog, she immerses herself in exploring diverse cultures through cinema and contemporary fiction, further fueling her passion for language and connection.