HomeYour Personal DevelopmentSolving your difficulties as an EFL teacher – #EFLproblems

Solving your difficulties as an EFL teacher – #EFLproblems




Young stressed woman holding her head and yelling.What’s the greatest challenge you’ve faced as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language (EFL)? Is it getting your students to speak in English? Reducing the use of L1 in your classes? Motivating your students to learn? Maybe something concerning behaviour?

We in the Professional Development Department at Oxford University Press receive a lot of questions about teaching and learning. Through our work with teachers and trainers all over the world, we also receive a lot of ideas, simple suggestions and activities. So, we’ve decided to write a series of bi-monthly articles focussing on addressing these greatest challenges.

Tell us about your challenges in the comments area below this article. You can also let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #EFLproblems or on our Facebook page.

Every two weeks, we will focus on one of the challenges you send us by addressing it right here on the Oxford University Press ELT blog. We will follow up each blog post with a live Facebook chat to discuss the issue further. Join us to ask questions and contribute your ideas on the topic.

The first challenge will be posted on October 23, with a follow up Facebook chat on October 25. Be sure to Like our Facebook page to be reminded about the upcoming live chats.

We look forward to hearing from you, so we can continue learning and developing together.

Subscribe to the Professional Development RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss a post!


  1. This is really inspiring. I think that the contributions made here will save much time and effort one often spends trying to work out the usual problems faced in classrooms and will also provide much knowledge and experience for teachers

    • Thanks Raef. I’m glad you like the idea. We are aiming to be very practical and help teachers in real situations. And you? Do you have any difficulties that you would like us to address?

  2. It is really interesting this article and its proposal. I will always check here what the next post.
    I have problems to teach english here in Brazil and to make students get interest. I think they do not know the importance of learning a new language can open a world of opportunities for them.

    • I’m interested in the idea of participation points for the class. How does it work? Is it a motivation for the whole class? Are there any awards? I’m asking because I mainly have a problem with involving students in the lesson, especially the weaker ones. They fell behind with grammar and vocabulary and they became discouraged. They are also very lazy.

  3. Hi

    My name is Simone and I run a prime school for seniors, they complain a lot about understanding and using the language abroad. Do you have any extra hints for teaching people over 50 years old?


    Personal Teacher C

  4. Posted on our Facebook page:

    “I think teaching writing has been the most challenging thing for me. It’s very difficult nowadays to get children, as indeed adults, to write anything. Because there’s been a general switch in humanity from written to oral tradition (again!), people generally write less. They obviously write more short messages, like texts and chats on whatsapp and other social services but this doesn’t actually help with writing longer texts like for&against essays or formal letters. Plus, when they chat, they use abbreviations, jargon and “improper” grammatical structures. Which is fine, I don’t have a problem with that. But at the end of the day I have to grade these writings according to scales which penalize all of the above.”

  5. What a great concept!

    I don’t know if this is my greatest challenge but I would like to see my children self-correct more when they are writing. It’s a shame to see the same kind of errors popping up again and again. Sometimes it’s L1 interference, sometimes its just children being children. I do for a fact, though, know that they know better. I don’t want to cover their written work with red markings but I don’t want them to continue repeating errors either. Any ideas?

  6. Cell Phones are a big problem in classroom. There are some students no matter I ask to turn off the cell phone, they still use. Some schools do not allow cell phones. In some cases this is the only solution.

    • I think you need to set some class rules from the very beginning. This will create some discipline in class.

      • Yes, class rules can be very effective. One of the participants in the facebook chat today suggested having a box which everyone puts their phones (set to silent) into at the beginning of class. In this way, students are not even tempted to use their phones.

  7. One major problem is that the educational system in my country is mainly exam-based. Most teachers, students, and even parents do not care at all about the quality of learning. They are mainly concerned with passing the exams. L1 is all the time used in class, real life English is not stressed, language skills are not practised at all, learning aims are not achieved, and private lessons given to students at home or in private centers are the norm. This is really frustrating for some teachers who are keen on improving their teaching skills and eager to get their students engaged in the learning process, thus, achieve a real progress and taste the beauty of language.

  8. Thank you for sending your comments. Our team will be responding to these in the coming weeks. Please keep your ideas coming!

  9. I have put up my challenge on facebook page, but I have decided to explain it furthere here. I teach in multi-grade classrooms, meaning that there are more grades together, learning different curricula from different course books. It requires a lot of time and effort to prepare for these classes, but even so, I really feel frustrated. They are mostly 7 and 9-year olds together, and 8 and 10-year olds together, but in two villages, they are all four grades together! Is it mission impossible?

    • Thanks Harvey. We’ll take this on board for the new year. In the meantime, you might like to have a look at Kate Bell’s post in the Professional Development category – The Difference between ESL and EFL Classooms.

  10. Thanks for the ichallenge, Harvey. We will take this on board as an issue for the new year. In the meantime, you might be interested in Kate Bell’s blog, How ESL and EFL classrooms differ.

  11. I need help with my Grammar Sense practice access code on the back cover of my book, it refuses to accept my code-S-227-369-0681. if anyone can help , please do so, thank you.

  12. I wonder what the best way is to monitor pairwork effectively. I use pairwork because it helps students get used to speaking; however, I am aware that they may be making a lot of mistakes which I don’t have the opportunity to correct. Not all students are willing or able to correct their partner’s errors. Have you any advice on how to ‘listen in’ to six pairs of speakers?

  13. I teach English to university students at the English Department in a non-native English speaking country. My students lack the basic skills of the language. Their levels are beginner and/or elementary at best. My question is: what is the best and the most suitable choice for them? Is it general English because of its language input and real life context or EAP which is badly needed for their academic studies?

  14. As new in the field of teaching English, I lack the necessary means of dealing with disciplinary issues. Thus, I lose a lot of time trying to inculcate into students’ mind to realize that their behaviour does not help them in understanding the material discussed. However, they continue as if I have spoken to the wall. They are just one impenetrable wall, one stubborn child. They stubbornly refuse to realize that there others in the classroom that want to learn something and that their behaviour prevents them from doing it effectively. Still, no results.

  15. Why viewers still make use of to read news papers when in this technological globe
    the whole thing is available on net?

    • Because they don’t think the internet as a tool to help their studies. “It is just for fun”, they might think. I’ve shown them some good websites, a way to use internet to study. It is working

  16. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand.

    It seems too complex and very broad for me.
    I am looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

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