Being a language student is tiring

bored, tired language students learning passively
09 Jul Shelley Vernon 2 Comments

Have you tried being a language student lately?


Share the stage!

Many teachers give teacher-centered lessons or lectures. The teacher is animated, talking, explaining, and writing on the board. In the meantime, the students are sitting, listening passively. Sitting for long periods is tiring. And by the time students come to your English lesson, they might have been sitting for five hours already in other classes.

bird hogging a bird bath to illusrate a teacher who does all the talking in class

Concentrating for long periods is also tiring. The students are soon bored, or at best, soporific. The teacher is having a whale of a time running the show at the front, while the class wilt like flowers in a barren desert under the baking sun.


No wonder most pupils in France, after attending English lessons several times a week for six years, can only say, "My name is ...".


Get students moving

Teachers need to have students moving, working in groups or pairs or doing something hands on. Passive listening is the worst way to learn a foreign language. Gazing passively at a textbook while somebody reads out a paragraph is not an effective use of classroom time. It's certainly easy for the teacher, but not for the students.


Do your students know what you are talking about?

The other important thing for a teacher wanting to focus on the students, rather than the sound of his or her voice, or the textbook, is to ask questions all the time. Asking, "Do you understand?" or "Is that clear?"' is not the right question. Ask a question that requires students prove they understand. For example, "What question are you asking each other in this pairwork task?" "What are some potential answers to this question?" Or let's say there is a crossword to fill in. The columns and lines are numbered. Point to a number in a column and ask, "What is this number 5 for?" Students tell you, or a student points to the related clue. Inversely, point to a clue and ask, "Where do you fill in the answer to this clue?"


Don't put your students down

I've seen a lot of sarcastic teachers in France. Teachers who put their students down or humiliate them. Sarcasm is a cheap trick just because you are older or in a position of superiority. Even though it might be tempting, try always to set an example and be a mentor to your students, with courteous behaviour, however much they drive you mad.


Use my resources and be a successful English teacher

For activities that involve your students, that make them think, that keep them moving, check out my TEFL / TESOL games and resources for all ages here.


I'm here to help if you have any questions. just ask in the comments box below and I'll answer you. If you tell me about your students, their age, level and how many you have in your classes, I'll help you choose the best resources and send you some free samples;

Kind regards

Shelley Ann Vernon


There are two visually challenged students in my class. How do I manage this situation without alienating them or discouraging them from learning the language?
Hello Ashita, Thanks for your question. I don't have any direct experience with visually challenged pupils. Can they see at all? If they have trouble seeing, then make sure they are at the front close to your visuals. Allow them to come close to the board if they need to. Many of my activities use movement, and talking, it's not all about reading and writing. But it depends just how impaired their vision is, since there's a big difference between being short sighted and having no sight at all.

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