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10 Main Difficulties In TEFL And My Suggested Solutions

Generally, teaching is not an easy job. And, in specific, TEFL is a difficult mission but in education, there is no “Mission Impossible”

The teachers, who are one of the most important elements in teaching, are able to solve any TEFL difficulties if they are informative and creative.

I hope you will find the following information useful in overcoming the challenges in your journey of TEFL.

1. Spelling is Problematic

Spelling is not easy even for native speakers because of many reasons such as:

  • Students cannot read words spontaneously.
  • They do not know the correct pronunciation of some English words.
  • Spelling and pronunciation are not compatible in English
  • There are 26 letters in English that have 44 sounds.

Suggested Solutions:

  • Explaining the correct rules of spelling.
  • Helping students repeat and spell each new word 4 or 5 times chorally.
  • Encouraging students to read words correctly and spontaneously.
  • Weekly dictation is beneficial in gaining the ability of the correct spelling.
  • Dictionaries should be used in the secondary stage to reinforce spelling abilities.
  • Posters containing difficult words should be hanged on walls in front of students to look at them for a long period of time. They can be changed every week or two weeks.

2. Some Students Forget Their Homework

Some teachers ask the students to bring two notebooks; one for classwork and the other for homework. Some students often forget their homework notebook at home assuring for the teachers that they’ve done homework. Anyway, the result is the same; the teacher can’t check homework of the previous day.

Suggested Solutions:

  • Accepting excuses especially from young learners.
  • If it becomes a daily occurrence, look into the real reasons and work on them.
  • Making sure they understand exactly what you ask them to do for homework.
  • Discussing with the whole class the importance of doing homework.
  • Rewarding with praise those who respond to your directions and brought their homework.
  • Asking students to specify only one notebook for both classwork and homework.
  • Checking homework on a daily basis and insist on seeing each one’s homework.
  • Specify a certain mark on doing homework and tell that to the students.

3. Some Students Do Not Appear Interested in English

Some students sit in EFL classes without any interest in participation. They often fear of making mistakes or think that learning English is difficult.

Suggested Solutions:

  • Plan lessons in which there is a great deal of variety. Devote the longest time in each lesson to oral practice activities. Subdivide these activities into four or five different types to avoid boredom.
  • Ensure wide student participation. Let students formulate questions, prepare pictures or other instructional materials, give cues for oral activities, lead games and songs, dramatize conversations, or help prepare a student publication.
  • Give the students the feeling that they are moving ahead all the time. When a student cannot answer a question, give the correct answer quickly or ask a more able student to give it.
  • Don’t correct every mistake the students make. During the warm-up and motivation stages of the lesson especially, correct only those errors which affect understanding. Make a mental note of minor errors and give practice in their correction later in a future lesson.
  • Don’t strive for immediate mastery. Accept reasonable fluency and reason­able accuracy since you will reintroduce all lan­guage items many times during the course.
  • Encourage your students by making it possible for them to enjoy many small successes frequently. Do this by announcing simple tests, differentiating assignments, and real-life situations.
  • Praise them but don’t wait for them to give a perfect response before you do so. If their response today (although still poor) is better than yesterday’s, it is reason enough for praise.
  • Make it possible for them to talk, as quickly as possible, about the things they would talk about in their native tongue. Demonstrate that English is another mode of communication which permits them to say anything they can say in their language.
  • Utilize the people or places in the community to reinforce the students’ knowledge of English while adding interest and variety to your lessons.
  • Plan a little more than you think you can cover in an hour. Plan for the slow and for the gifted.
  • Be flexible in your planning. If something of interest happens in your school or community and you think it can reinforce teaching language items or an aspect of the culture – or, it is important to strengthen your rapport with your students – put aside the lesson you had planned and discuss the interesting occurrence.

4. Students Cannot Understand A Dialogue or A Reading Passage

Suggested Solutions:

  • Showing pictures.
  • Dramatizing the material.
  • Explaining the key words in a simple language.
  • Translating in the mother tongue but this step should be your last solution.

5. Students Have Difficulties in Writing Composition

Suggested Solutions:

  • Asking your students to prepare the composition at home in order to express their own ideas correctly and easily.
  • Motivating the topic by creating a situation or using discussions, wall charts and guided words.
  • Eliciting ideas related to the topic. You can ask your students to express their own ideas orally.
  • Choosing the most suitable ideas and write them on the board in order to help students when doing their homework.
  • Giving your students enough help with functions, structures and vocabulary needed to express and expand each idea.
  • Allowing enough time for students to write an introductory paragraph in the classroom because there must be a model to follow.
  • Giving clear, tactful and constructive comments on their compositions. It will be very useful if you do this work in the classroom.
  • Paying attention only to the major errors when correcting students’ writing such as those in grammar, word order, spelling and punctuation.

To Be Continued

In the following post, I’m going to tackle the following difficulties:

  1. Disruptive Behavior
  2. Pronunciation Difficulties
  3. Terrible Handwriting
  4. Learning Vowel Letters
  5. Fear to Speak in the Classroom

Thanks For Reading

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