Research on Academic Impediments for ESL Students

For all ESL learners, the process of the English language acquisition may result in a plethora of struggles, which are caused by a wide variety of factors. Neglecting of the said factors may negatively affect the process of language learning. This research paper will focus on the academic impediments for ESL students based on the current level of research on the topic and will suggest potential ways of diminishing the issue. The main struggles ESL students usually face in the process of language acquisition are caused by the combination of various social and psychological factors; lack of learning environments, teacher’s understanding of the process of language acquisition, and students’ comprehension of language processes, learners’ dependency on professors, inappropriate material for the level of proficiency, and the issue of cultural identity are some of the most critical factors to affect ESL students negatively.


In order to conduct in-depth research regarding the issue of academic impediments for ESL students, the research will address data that has been presented in secondary sources. Since the topic has been thoroughly studied, the level of current examination of the question is profound. However, various scholarly articles address multiple aspects of the issue, and there is currently no study present to present the analysis of the topic from several perspectives. Since this research paper will analyze, incorporate, and present data that is the result of numerous previous studies, it will present a more profound level of the topic’s examination. In order to suggest potential ways of diminishing the issue of academic impediments for ESL students, the paper will synthesize conclusions of previous studies and provide findings that arise from the analysis of the topic from various perspectives. In such a way, the research will present the causes and potential consequences of the issues related to the ESL learning and teaching from various perspectives and will suggest possible solutions, which will address various social groups.

Lack of Learning Environments

One of the most influential factors to affect the English language acquisition process in ESL students negatively is undeniably the lack of learning environments. Naturally, the process of language learning is defined by the social context, in which a learner exists and with which he or she communicates (Sayeh, 2015). Despite the fact that ESL students are forced to talk English in the environment of their classrooms, they often fail to do so at home. More than that, such learners often face social pressure during the process of language acquisition, from their native community, as well as from that of native English speakers. Since such students do not have enough opportunities to practice language outside of the traditional learning environment, being a classroom, the pace, at which they are able to improve their language proficiency, is limited. In such a way, the students are being forced to learn the English language by native speakers but are not given enough academic opportunities. Often, this issue may cause multiple occurrences of psychological tension between the student and his or her original community as well as the native speakers by whom they are surrounded.

Since such an issue is closely related to the society, it should be addressed and altered as a whole in order to improve the current situation. One of the potential ways of improving the issue by discussing it from the perspective of the lack of learning environments is through providing the students with opportunities to practice the English language outside of their school classrooms. It would be a logical suggestion to organize speaking clubs, book readings, or movie nights in the communities with comparatively large populations of non-native English speakers. More than that, schools that provide the opportunity to acquire English as a second or foreign language should be motivated to inform students about such possibilities; additionally, such initiatives may be organized within schools, so that the students are familiar with and comfortable in the environment. Regarding the fact that such an issue is related the students neglecting English in their households, one may also suggest public initiatives to improve the level of English proficiency among adults, so that the students are able to incorporate language in their day-to-day communication. If to implement the above suggestions in the communities with non-native English speakers, one may suggest that the issue of ESL students not being able to acquire language due to the lack of learning environments should be overcome.

Cultural Identity

Since the issue of the lack of learning environments is related to society, it is also interconnected with another critical point. Many ESL students may suffer from facing the problem of cultural and personal identity (Bell & Bogan, 2013). This fact may be explained if to take into account the typical situation for ESL students to experience once they start to improve their language proficiency. During their learning process in a school classroom, the students may be viewed as if they are not able to express their thoughts in English fully; however, in their native environments, during the communication with non-native English speakers, they may be thought to desert their cultural identity (Bell & Bogan, 2013). In such a way, evident social pressure from both aspects of the ESL students’ social environment critically affects their willingness and motivation for language acquisition. Since the process of language learning is closely related to the phenomenon of culture and his or her self-identity, the issue is critical and must be addressed by both the ESL teachers and society as a whole.

One of the potential ways to affect the cultural factor of language acquisition positively is through the teachers’ evaluation and comprehension of the issue and their focus on its prevention. During the learning process in a school, they should be able to assist the students who may struggle with the said problem by maintaining their identity beyond academic success and language acquisition (Bell & Bogan, 2013). Despite the fact that language and culture are generally interrelated on multiple levels, the process of learning a second or foreign language should not exclude a student’s background. One may state that through the process of language acquisition a person is able to enrich his or her knowledge and proficiency without diminishing the original language. In such a way, the ESL teachers must take into account the possibility of such an issue developing among their students and address the problem beforehand by highlighting the stated abilities to enrich one’s cultures without diminishing it.

Students’ Dependency on Teachers

Since teachers are the individuals to play a significant role in the students’ process of second language acquisition, they may cause many issues regarding the learners’ difficulties and barriers. One of such issues is related to the fact that teachers may often give their students direct answers to the question during the academic process; thus, students may develop an overpowering dependency on their teachers. If to take into account the fact that teachers are the individuals to shape the ESL students’ perception of the process of language learning as well as influence their self-identity from the perspective of culture and academics and their idea of successfulness, one may suggest that such a way of teaching may negatively affect the students’ proficiency. As a result, the ESL learners may be unable to develop their knowledge and communicate outside of the everyday environment.

First of all, in order to prevent such an issue from developing and negatively affecting the students’ further learning process, the ESL teachers must acknowledge the possibility of the problem arising due to their way of teaching. In case of a student not understanding the material, a teacher must focus on explaining the topic in a manner that is more explicit and descriptive rather than decide to give the answer directly. In such a way, a student is able to analyze the topic, create associations with his or her first language, and thus, to develop his or her communication skills outside of the class settings. Overall, during the process of teaching English as a second language, teachers must be attentive, patient, and descriptive in their explanation of language processes.

Misunderstanding of Language Acquisition Process

Since the process of acquiring a second language differs from that of improving the level of proficiency in the first one on various sociolinguistic levels, teachers must take this fact into account while planning and conducting classes for the ESL students. In general, the majority of the ESL teachers are not definitely prepared for and acquainted with the peculiarities of the process of teaching English for the students who are non-native speakers. The core of the issue is closely related to the general uncommonness of the need to present English for such students; however, there are areas where such knowledge among professors is crucial. One of the aspects related to the issue of the teachers’ unfamiliarity with the specifics of the process is that they often have high expectations for the students who are newly enrolled in the United States schools (Bostad, Cwikla, & Kienzle, 2015). Since the teachers are not educated about the specific characteristics of the language acquisition process, they are generally unable to plan the academics according to the students’ learning abilities. In such a way, the issue of teachers not being able to comprehend the basics of the process may negatively affect the relationships between teachers and students, the willingness of the latter to participate in class discussions and academics overall, as well as disrupt the potentially successful consequences of a well-planned and organized accordingly to the students’ abilities curriculum.

In order to prevent such an issue, the measures should be taken on the level of school boards. Since the primary cause of the problem of teachers not understanding the basics of the process of the second language acquisition is their lack of relevant training, schools should focus on the organization of the professors’ education regarding the process. This method may be designed by the meetings of the ESL professors with the researchers of the sociolinguistic aspects of the process as well as suggesting them scholarly articles on the topic. In such a way, the ESL teachers will be given an opportunity to deepen their knowledge regarding the most accurate ways of planning the curriculum depending on the plethora of factors that define the process of the students’ learning a language and successfully overcome the issue and its potentially harmful consequences.

Inappropriate Learning Material

Another issue that is closely related to the one discussed above is that the ESL teachers who are not particularly skilled in the planning of the curriculum according to the students’ needs and abilities may often require the learners to work on the assignments, which are too complicated and do not correspond to the students’ level of language proficiency. In such a case, if the tasks that the students may be required to fulfill are overpowering at the moment, the students may face multiple difficulties in the learning process. First of all, if the teachers are not implementing the potentially successful methods of explaining the language process to the students, the latter may not be able to complete the task due to their lack of understanding; thus, the general declination of the academic performance will be noticeable. Naturally, facing the misunderstanding from the teachers, classmates, and their primary cultural environment, the students may result in struggling with the constant motivation to maintain their education. One of the most obvious consequences of such an issue may be the lack of formal education among the non-native English speakers and the developed social and psychological problems within their community and with the others.

In order to improve the situation and overcome the issue discussed, the teachers should take into account the methods presented above. Since the learning process is an involved complex of communication, explanations, and understanding between a learner and a teacher, implementation of the specialized training in the method of the preparation of the latter for the curriculum will play a crucial role in its successful outcomes. Another possible way of diminishing the issue is by organizing the students in groups according to their level of level proficiency; grouping students depending on their abilities contributes to the successful results of the ESL course (Bell & Bogan, 2013). Overall, the teachers should be given an opportunity to deepen their knowledge regarding the subject and organize the learning process according to the students’ level of knowledge and language learning abilities. In such a way, the ESL teachers will be able to determine which tasks would be the most appropriate for a separate group of students, and thus, overcome the potentially adverse outcomes of the students not being able to complete assignments correctly.

Difficulties in Comprehension

Since the process of language acquisition is not merely determined by teachers, one also must take into account the fact that various students may have different levels of language proficiency and comprehension. This point is related to the previous one but addresses it from another perspective. The process of a language learning is much determined by a student’s ability to analyze various language rules and learn the correct ways to implement them in such day-to-day operations as communication with the others, learning of other subjects, and developing both personally and professionally. In case of successful cooperation between a teacher and a student, the learning process will result in positive consequences. However, if one of the parties neglects the necessity to coordinate, the latter may be facing such adverse outcomes as an inability to develop language proficiency and communication skills.

In order to overcome the issue, all of the above suggestions should be combined. Teachers and school boards should take into account the opportunity to group students according to their skills and develop the curriculum based on their abilities. More than that, periodical means of knowledge control should be conducted, namely tests, quizzes, and spoken improvisation exercises. More than that, students should be given the opportunity and motivated to improve their language proficiency outside of the learning environment of their classrooms. In such a way, the skills that they have previously acquired during an academic year will be maintained and improved. Overall, teachers and students should focus on successful and mutually beneficial cooperation in order to achieve common goals in academics.

Suggestions and Conclusions

The research paper has analyzed the issues that the ESL learners and teachers may face during the education process, discussed their potential harmful outcomes, and suggested ways to overcome the said problems. The paper has included the analysis of the topic from the perspective of the ESL teachers and learners, society as a whole, and the native communities of the ESL students. In such a way, the paper incorporates findings of the previously published studies and suggests a deep level of analysis regarding the topic. The process of second language acquisition is a complex mechanism of cooperation between a teacher and a student, as well as schools, families of the students, and society as a whole. Nowadays, both ESL teachers and students are facing multiple issues, which are caused by a plethora of social and psychological factors. The most noticeable problems are the lack of suitable learning environments, aspects of the students’ cultural and personal identity in the process of second language learning, their dependency on the teachers, and the inability of the latter to plan the curriculum properly according to the students’ abilities, knowledge, and level of proficiency. All these factors create demand in the academic writing market. More and more ESL students are willing to hire professionals for writing assistance, and at some point, it is the only legit way to proceed with assignments. “I need someone to write my paper” is a rightful request in any essay writing crisis. Writing agencies don’t provoke students to study less. They only address the consequences of the listed negative factors. Measures should be taken on various levels in order to diminish mentioned issues and the potential negative outcomes, which they may cause. Despite the fact that multiple individuals and social groups are related to the issues discussed in the study, the ESL teachers are who the majority of responsibility relies upon. In order to provide the students with the best possible ways to the education process, teachers should be able to focus on the peculiarities of the second language acquisition process, approach their students according to their language proficiency levels and communication skills, acknowledge the possibility of the cultural identity issues development, and assist those students who may be facing any struggles. On the contrary, ESL learners should be able to acknowledge the fact that though language learning is closely related to the phenomenon of identity, acquiring a second language does not diminish one’s culture. More than that, they should accept the necessity to cooperate with the teachers and society as a whole. In general, the issues that may arise in the process of second language acquisition are complex and require a personal approach in every separate case. Suggestions presented in the research paper should be taken as a guide to organizing the learning process for non-native English speakers.


Bell, D., & Bogan, B. L. (2013). English Language Learners: Problems and Solutions Found in the Research of General Practitioners of Early Childhood. E-Journal of Balanced Reading Instruction, 1(2).

Bostad, B., Cwikla, S. A., & Kienzle, J. L. (2015). Success of English Language Learners: Barriers and Strategies. Retrieved from

Sayeh, A. (2015). Challenges for Teaching English as a Second Language and their Remedies. International Journal of Humanities and Management Sciences, 3(6), 371-373.

Previous Story
Next Story