Frustration is common for English as a Second Language teachers. The demand for ESL teachers is so high that many ESL teachers begin their English teaching career without any previous experience. You may have earned an ESL certificate online but an ESL certificate often does not prepare you for the real world ESL teaching. Sure traveling to and living in a foreign country is exciting but if you do not have any training or ESL teaching experience your new teaching job can become exasperating.
Experienced ESL teachers sometimes become frustrated too. They can become burnt out or complacent from years of ESL teaching. There is no room for frustration in the classroom; it is not fair to your students. The important thing to remember is that the frustration will pass. Or more realistically it will come and go. Meanwhile it is imperative to remember to hide this frustration from your students. Here are some things you need to remember not to do when you are feeling frustrated with your job and your ESL students.
Remember to have patience with your ESL students, especially beginners. Students can frustrate you especially children and beginner levels. You are placed in a classroom with students and you do not speak their language and they do not speak yours. This situation is ripe for frustrating the teacher, but you cannot let it get to you. When you become frustrated, the students can sense it and they will feel as if you do not like them. ESL students need to feel comfortable in the classroom and the ESL teacher is in charge of setting the tone.
Remember not to be condescending to amuse yourself. Once you are frustrated in the ESL classroom it is easy to take it out on your students. ESL students cannot defend themselves against you because their ability to communicate with you is low. Being condescending to students is the easy way out but is totally inappropriate. Your students may not be able to understand you but do not kid yourself they can sense this kind of bad energy you are sending their way.
Remember to act as if you want to be there. Once frustration sets in you will start to wish you were somewhere else. ESL students may not speak English but they can perceive that you are yearning to be anyplace else but in the classroom with them.
Remember to give yourself a break mentally and physically. Think about the things that make you happy. Call your friends at home on Skype. Go to a western style restaurant even if it is expensive. Go on a weekend getaway to countryside if you live in the city and to the city if you live in the country. Join a gym and get those endorphins flowing. Get a massage.
Remember to forgive yourself. You are a good ESL teacher so forgive yourself for feeling frustrated. You are in a difficult situation. When living in a new country you will go through the stages of culture shock, everyone does. While the first stage is the blissful everything is new “honeymoon” stage, other stages involve some loneliness, frustration, depression and commiserating with others. Eventually you will come through to the other side of culture shock and be yourself again. I promise.