Important Skills for ESL Teachers

Skills for ESL TeachersIf you’ve ever witnessed a skilled ESL teacher, they make it look very easy. Is it experience, their TEFL certifications or natural abilities that you’re witnessing? Perhaps. But here are a couple (not so obvious) skills that need to be kept in mind to truly excel in the classroom.


ESL teachers need to be creative. I know this might seem like a ‘given,’ but it’s worth mentioning. Original and interactive lesson plans are going to play a large part in the success of any classroom. If the students are engaged, they will learn.

The need for creativity extends beyond lesson planning into lesson execution. ESL teachers need to think on their feet and know how to redirect when necessary. Pushing through a failing lesson is as painful for the instructor as it is for the students.

So what do you do if you’re not feeling creative? Visiting other classrooms or spending time with veteran teachers can be great starts. Teachers that have been in the field for a while have likely experienced ‘creativity droughts.’ In my experience these vet’s have great suggestions for increasing the flow of creative brain juices!

Recent research also suggests that a 15-30 minute walk outside can boost feelings of well-being and creativity. At the very least you burned off some of that sticky-rice with mango.

You can check out the TEDx Chiang Mai series for some creative boosts, too.


Resilience is something that’s a bit harder to train but just as important. Certain days in the classroom will be amazing and uplifting, others will feel more like work – hard work that’s really stressful!

If you’re already an ESL teacher you know how a hard day in the classroom can impact you. You probably also know that these days are just part of being an educator. However, if you can’t shake the pangs of a rough day teaching, you’re going to begin dreading the next one.

Successful teachers in every field use their creativity to enhance their resilience. These individuals are able to gain insights to their teaching methods and the dynamics of their classrooms by reflecting on a particularly rough day. They find common themes, pinpoint problems areas and then overcome them with fresh approaches.

Returning to your classroom the next day can be exciting when you’re equipped with new approaches. Reflection, determination and creativity all translate to increased resilience.


These skills are extremely important for individuals pursuing careers as educators in any field. They aren’t something you can learn in a classroom, but a classroom can help you hone them!

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