The Qualities of a Good ESL Teacher

By | November 24, 2012

Here are some qualities that I think that ESL teachers need to be good ESL teachers! Please note that they are not in any particular order and I believe that each of the qualities listed are all equally as important. ESL teachers and teachers of any subject need to be many things when they teach their given subject.

They need to be good listeners, leaders, fair, communicators, good at conflict resolution, carers, friends, reliable, thick skinned, down to earth, able to laugh at themselves, inspiring, the list is endless. In short, teachers need to do everything! It’s a tough, but highly rewarding job.

Students rely on their teachers for so many things and a good teacher must be able to provide this support to their students whilst at the same time giving them an education and belief in themselves that they can learn and can achieve success through their hard work. But what qualities give teachers the ability to be ‘good’ teachers?

If you have any ideas about what qualities you think a good teacher needs, I’d love to hear them. Please leave a comment below and share your ideas!


If you’re not confident to speak in front of other people, then you’re definitely in the wrong job. As a teacher you’ve always got 50 eyes (supposing you had 25 students!) fixed on you, waiting to see what you’re going to do next. You’ve got 50 ears listening to every word you’re saying. You’ve got 25 brains processing the information you’re giving them. Confidence is a very important quality of a good teacher.


Not all students will immediately understand what you’re teaching. All students learn in different ways, some learn by doing, some need to visualize what you’re teaching and some will just need a little more time and a slightly different explanation from the rest. If you’ve got 29 students that understand and one that doesn’t, then you need to be patient and find a way to help that one student understand.


All students are different, they all come from different families and they all have different interests and feelings. A good teacher will show interest in their students and not only in their school life. A good teacher will listen to their students and show a willingness to help them! Yes, you might hear many excuses why the student hasn’t finished their homework on time, some will be lies but some will be completely genuine. You need to care about your students and genuinely want to help them!


I’ve worked in Universities with 5/6 different courses per week and each course with 3 lectures a week totalling 100s of students. You need to prepare their homework, mark their homework, ensure that you prepare for the right class, give the right results back to the right classes. If you aren’t organised, it’s literally impossible. Being organised will help you to save time in your teaching requirements outside of actually teaching a class (e.g. marking, class planning, etc.), giving you more free time to relax (and we all need this!) and also more time to provide help and support to your students. I can’t tell you enough how important it is to be organised!

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Understanding & Supportive

As teachers, it’s important to understand the needs of the students, both as a class and as individuals. Teachers need to be able to identify which students need a little more attention and which students need a little more independence. We need to understand our students to give them the best educational experience possible!


As teachers, you need to be very analytical and possess the ability to think outside of the box! Not only that, this analytical mind needs to work quick and you need to make the best decisions possible in the blink of an eye! According to Wikipedia the analytical skill is:

The ability to visualize, articulate, and solve both complex and uncomplicated problems and concepts and make decisions that are sensical based on available information. Such skills include demonstration of the ability to apply logical thinking to gathering and analysing information, designing and testing solutions to problems, and formulating plans.

Dedicated & Passionate

You need to be passionate about what you teach. If you’re students see your passion, they’re much more likely to become interested and passionate about the subject too! Dedication is equally as important! A good teacher will show how dedicated they are to their job, their students and the subject they teach.

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