Feedback from ESL students

ESL students were asked what they would like to say to their teachers. Here is their feedback.


ESL students at Frankfurt International School were asked what feedback they would like to give to their mainstream teachers. I have allocated their comments to various categories, but have not changed their original words.

An asterisk* means that more than one student made a similar comment.

Increasing comprehensibility

  • Please use easier words.
  • Explain important words with smaller words.
  • Please speak slowly and clearly. *
  • Please write more clearly on the board. *
  • Don't give difficult words in test questions.
  • Repeat what other students say when they say question or give answer.
  • Let us explain things in our own language to people who don't understand something.

Providing appropriate extra assistance

  • Please wait after the lesson to explain. *
  • Give me more time to do my work. *
  • Please tell about tests earlier.
  • Please help me, I'm ESL student.
  • Please write answers on the board. *
  • Give us more time to write down things from the board.
  • Don't give us paper without explain what to do.
  • Can I speak Japanese in lesson?
  • Don't always write homework on board when light flashes. †
  • I don't understand when teacher reads bulletin. ‡
  • Explain the homework please.
  • It is good that some of my teachers allow us to work together. *
  • Come to ESL students during quiet working to ask how they understood.
  • Try to wait if just 2 or 3 people raise their hands for the others.
  • @@ I don't like it when my teacher don't tell me how to do work which I never done before. ~~
  • @ When we have a chance to answer a question, make the other students quiet, because it takes a time to transfer thoughts in words. ~

† In other words: Leave enough time at the end of the lesson to explain the homework properly.
‡ The bulletin is the daily list of announcements. ESL students often fail to attend meetings or participate in activities because they have not understood the bulletin message.

Reducing embarrassment

  • Stand near me when I must answer question.
  • Punish the students who make fun of our poor English.
  • Don't pick me in lesson because I can't answer.
  • Please do respect my questions even if they seem easy.
  • Even I answered wrong, don't laugh.
  • I don't like it when my teacher pick naughty boy sit beside me.
  • I don't like it when my teacher act to me like stupid just because I am ESL student.
  • I hate when my teacher try to tell me the meaning of easy words.
  • I don't like it when my teacher hand out the sheets or tests because the teacher says "not good" or "good" with loud voice, so all the students can hear it. *

Being aware that jokes exclude ESL students

  • Jokes is difficult to me. *
  • You should not make a joke about everything.

Morain (1991) summarizing the feedback of international students on humour in the classroom states:

"With one voice they spoke of the alienation they experience when humor passes them by."

A final plea

  • @@@ Please be nice to us. ~~~ *

Mainstream teacher feedback

Mainstream teachers were asked what they would like to say to their ESL students. The great majority of respondents said that ESL students should take a little more initiative in asking for help or expressing lack of understanding.

At the very least. ESL students who cannot answer questions should make it clear to the teacher whether this is because they don't understand the question, don't know the answer, or don't know how to say the answer in English.

Read more details of the feedback from teachers to students.


In my opinion, the comments here perfectly underscore the enormous importance of teacher understanding and empathy for the ESL students in their classes.


Morain. G. (1991). X-raying the international funny bone: A study exploring differences in the perception of humor across the cultures. Georgetown University Round Table on Language and Linguistics, 397-408.