With distractions at their peak and human attention span proven to be only 12 seconds, the 21st century ESL teacher must be proactive in dealing with the realities of this time as it affects teaching English to speakers of other languages. Here are the 10 most important qualities that a good ESL teacher must possess in this day and age.

1. Professional knowledge

One of the major qualities of a good ESL teacher is the possession of professional knowledge. That is, the knowledge of the content to be taught which is referred to as declarative knowledge and the ability to do the appropriate things in the classroom which is referred to as procedural knowledge.

2. Interpersonal and communication skills

A good ESL teacher should be able to relate freely with the students, should be lively, active, positive and have a welcoming attitude towards the students. This will foster a good learning atmosphere in the classroom. A good ESL teacher must also be good at expressing ideas, values and beliefs about teaching. He/she must be good at presenting issues and even proferring possible solutions to such issues.

3. Passion(drive)

One important quality of any teacher is the passion or drive to impart knowledge. Money should not be the motivation for a good teacher, rather, the love to see learners excel and improve in their studies should be the major motivating factor. Passion is the fuel of success! It will be easier for a passionate teacher to help students learn than a teacher who’s driven by monetary gain.

4. Classroom Management Skills

This is also a major quality that any teacher must possess in order to be successful. A 21st century ESL teacher must be well-organised, must be able to control the students and also instruct them to carry out classroom activities appropriately. When these happen, students will know what is expected of them at every point in the classroom and they will be willing to carry out their given tasks without any hassle.


5. Flexibility

A good ESL teacher must be flexible and adapt to any change that might occur in the classroom without being disoriented in the process of driving the lesson towards the set goals and objectives.

6. Meaningful and Interesting Lessons

Every teacher that will command result at this time must possess the ability to create meaningful and interesting lessons. A 21st century ESL teachers must be able to come up with lessons that go in line with the interests and goals of learners. Fun activities should also be included in their lessons. Teachers should ensure that students are allowed to practice language use through presentation and other genuine tasks without having to worry about making mistakes.

7. Cultural Awareness

A good ESL teacher must be aware of the different cultural background of the students. He or she must learn something about the cultural background of the students in the classroom so as to be able to understand the individual differences of the learners. Learning to speak one or two phrases in the students’ language can even kindle the students’ interest in learning. This makes them feel more comfortable around the teacher and it makes them willing to attend the lessons.

8. A Genuine Relationship with the Students

A good ESL teacher must show genuine concern for the students’ academic growth and personal well being. This can be achieved only if there’s a genuine teacher-student relationship. When a teacher cares genuinely about a student, study shows, they work harder in order to impress the teacher and such student is motivated by the care gotten from the teacher. Such student also tends to learn faster.

An ESL teacher that will succeed at this time should be able to identify and understand the individual needs of every student in his/her classroom. Some students need special attention in specific areas of learning language, be it language skills or language system. It takes a good ESL teacher to identify and understand these needs in each of his/her students and work towards helping such student attain proficiency in the specific area of need.

In order to stay relevant in this age of the internet, every ESL teacher must strive to acquire the necessary skills and imbibe the global best practices in their classrooms.

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