Seven Online Students Behaviors An ESL Teacher Should Know

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Every student is unique, with different personalities that make them have different behaviors when taking an online class.

The responsibility of an ESL teacher is to let all kinds of students participate and integrate into the learning. To achieve it, we ought to understand the common behavioral characteristics to figure out their varied personalities and prescribe the right “medicine”. You may also check some teaching strategies here.


1) Energetic

An energetic student is destined to be unable to sit still and listen carefully during the class. I believe that lots of teachers will feel broken for a student who suddenly jumped onto the desk and shouted. Rather than punishing these "naughty" students directly, a wise teacher will channel students’ energy into the study, such as adding some exciting classroom activities like singing, dancing, exaggerated performances to ensure more students' classroom participation.


2) Disinterested

There are always some students who are not interested in attending the class, after all, class is not as fun as going to an amusement park or attending parties. At this time, the teacher should find a way to bring fun to the classroom. A good method is to talk to students to find out their hobbies, and design relevant classroom activities based on this information. For example, if they like music, add some musical elements to your activities. In short, let them do what they like.


[Recommended Reading: 5 Tips to Make English Teaching Interesting Online]


3) Timid

Faced with an unacquainted adult, shy students usually feel nervous and scared. If this is your first meeting, trying to use some dolls or stuffed animals (such as Mickey and Dumbo) to introduce yourself and talk to them. Furthermore, try to arrange some quiet classroom activities, such as reading stories or drawing pictures instead of some exaggerated sounds and movements which may scare them into tears.


4) Studious

Studious and motivated students usually like challenges and thinking about difficult problems. For these students, you need to prepare some curriculum extensions in advance in addition to the routine classroom content. Never let your students get bored during the class.


5) Attention-seeking

Students of this kind usually do something to attract the attention of the teacher. Well-behaved students will adopt some healthy methods, such as actively answering teacher questions and participating in classroom activities. And some students may have some “strange” behaviors, such as playing a clown, yelling, pushing and pulling classmates.

For these students, teachers should avoid losing patience and temper during the class. Instead, they should encourage good behavior and politely remind those naughty students to stop. If you encounter an unsolvable situation (such as self-harm by a student), remember to seek professional help.


6) Unprepared

It is frustrating for teachers to find that their students are unprepared, such as failing to complete homework. Teachers should investigate whether students are experiencing difficulties in learning, and seek help from parents (give parents specific feedback and remind them to give students some help after class if possible)

Don't be discouraged, sometimes young students just need a little more time to absorb and process a new language.


7) Social

Some children are born to be good at "communication" and they like to talk with classmates during class. This is not to say that these students are very annoying, in fact it is good for language teaching to some extent. Short conversations are helpful to build rapport and practice oral English at the beginning of class. But if the conversation has interfered with the lesson, the teacher should take action in time, such as giving them a certain amount of time (maybe 2 minutes) to talk, or asking them to stop and left the conversation after the lesson.


Teachers should adjust themselves to suit different students to ensure that they can truly engage in learning. Don't blame the different personalities of the students for making it difficult for you to manage the class, just stay patient and empathetic.

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