Here are some common classroom management problems ESL teachers tend to have and solutions to how to deal with them. Whether you are teaching English to kids or adults these solutions should help you solve your problems.

Solutions to your classroom problems

1. Kids that won't pay attention

Isn't it annoying when you have students who just can't seem to listen? They can't seem to follow directions or pay attention. Solution:

  • Change your teaching method or lesson plan. If they are not paying attention there is usually a reason why and that is because something you're doing stinks. It's not necessarily what, but maybe how you are doing it. 
  • Ask them questions about what you have just said, get them involved, have them participate in an exercise or activity.

2. Kids that are talking when they shouldn't be

Isn't it frustrating when you have students who keep talking when you're talking? Or maybe they're just talking about whatever they feel like and it's totally unrelated to your lesson. Solution:

  • Does your lesson plan stink? If so change it if not...
  • Change their seating. Separate the students who are talking.

3. Classes are out of control

Do you feel that your classes are out of your control? And whatever you do it just doesn't seem to work? Solution:

  • You probably need to improve the quality of your lessons. Make them more interesting, fun and educational.
  • You need some rules in place. You also need to have a system and some repercussions for when rules are broken.

4. Students who won't talk

Have you ever had students who just won't talk? And their only answer is silence? Solution:

  • Use pair work. Pair them up with someone else. They will feel less pressure.
  • Start a sentence and have them finish it.
  • Try role playing or a dialogue from a story. Then they will be pretending to be someone else.

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5. Students who use inappropriate language

Have you ever had students who use disrespectful language in class? They swear at their friends or in the worst case scenario at you. Solution:

  • You need rules in place and you need to issue a repercussion when this happens.

6. Teaching large classes

Have you been thrown into large classes of 20, 30, 40 or more students? Do you find it difficult to control them? Solution:

  • Use groups and pair work.
  • Have one half of the class ask and the other answer.

7. Students who are bored

Do you have students who are yawning or who are having a difficult time staying awake? Solution:

  • Usually that means they are not interested in what you are doing. It also could be how you are doing it. Add more activities and games to your classes.
  • Choose topics that they are interested in.

8. Stress

Is teaching English stressing you out? Are you dreading going to work every day? Solution:

  • Try to have more fun. Joke, play and make your classes more active.
  • Take ESLinsider's online TEFL course. This will help as a lot of stress usually comes from a lack of training.
  • If it's job related get a better job.

9. Students who don't want to be there

Do you have students that hate English? Does it seem like they are forced to be there? Solution:

  • Use music in your lessons. For example, if you are doing a dictation, taking or quiz or writing you could play some classical, didgeridoo, gamma wave, or any other kind of relaxing music in the background.
  • Make your classes more fun with games and activities.

10. Students who are speaking their native language

Do you have students that just won't stop speaking in their native language? Solution:

  • You need to make it a rule that they cannot speak their native language unless they ask.
  • You need a system in place and to issue consequences when they break the rule.


As mentioned above if you are having a lot of problems then that probably means that you need help. Many classroom problems can be the result of poor lessons. If you found this post helpful then I think you would find the following course on classroom management to be very helpful too.

Most classroom management problems are a combination of both the external (your students) and internal (your lack of training). Take this advanced online course for $209 to get the full training.

Your problems may not be limited to merely managing your classroom. Many classroom problems arise from poor lessons.