Learning Difficulties A. IntroductionThis paper will attempt


A. Introduction

This paper will attempt to provide a general inventory of potential, detrimental factors that may be at play in low performance in the classroom devoted to the teaching of English as a foreign language (TEFL).

B. The Plan

In this brief report I have chosen to use a four way category scheme. I will begin first with factors bearing on the TEFL teacher. Second, I will describe factors bearing on problems hindering the individual learner. Third, I will consider student body problems that are evident across most or all students being taught. Last, I will enumerate factors that are environmentally induced.

C. The Teacher

The following factors comprise a short list of potentially significant contributors, all teacher related, to poor student TEFL performance.

1.Lack of rapport between teacher and students- some teachers place low value on the quality of their human relations with students. They view teaching as the delivery of a body of information to others that is not dependent upon the relationships that do or do not exist.

2.Ignorance of student priorities for learning English- teachers who do not take the time to find out why their students care to learn English are using a model of students as interchangeable parts who are only necessary to complete the learning equation.

3.Tapping into student motivations- unless student desires and interests are understood, the teacher cannot possibly teach in ways that maintain and meet student motivations for TEFL competency.

4.Lack of praise and focus on positive accomplishments- Even without critical and negative focus by the teacher on errors made, if there is not positive note taken of successes in English learning, students will not progress well.

5.Teacher burnout- the teacher may be unmotivated and apathetic, ‘going through the motions’ in class. Students will pick up on this lack of enthusiasm and involvement and will react.

D. The Individual Student

6.Special needs may limit student performance or rate of learning- many students are not identified as carrying special needs into the TEFL classroom. Learning problems, ADHD, hearing and visual disabilities and emotional problems and mental retardation can all be masked and yet significantly influence difficulties in learning.

7.Reluctance to work with the language, reading, speaking, and writing- the student may have had negative experiences in the past within learning environments. In other cases, the student may find the teacher style of management and leading too be foreign to his//her cultural experience and difficult to handle.

E. The Student Body at Large

8.Class size- Large class size can produce problem behaviors not as likely in a small class. Reticent students are more easily ‘lost in the crowd’; acting out students will have less monitoring and more opportunity to be disruptive.

9.Ability differences- The ability differences in a student group may result in behaviors that run against performance if not addressed. Some students may be quick finishers of assignments wile others struggle and ‘hold up the class’.

F. Environmental Factors-

10.Excessive heat or cold, external noise, poor lighting and the like- A variety of factors such as these may interfere with learning.

G. Conclusion-

In many instances of recognized learning difficulties, there is not one causative factor but several. Those several may be unrelated. A superficial analysis may well not get to the bottom of the problem of learning being experienced.

As an integral part of our commitment to our TEFL students, we must decide to administer these programs with integrity and evenhandedness, taking whatever steps are necessary to insure we do all that is possible to make our students successful.