The 9 different types of children in every class

Every veteran teacher knows that TEFL students come in all shapes and sizes. Some love the classroom, while others can’t wait to leave when the clock turns and that bell goes. Some fidget, others are team players, and there’s always that daydreamer in the corner, staring wistfully out the window! In this blog post we’ll take a look at nine of the most common types of child student you’re likely to encounter on your EFL adventure. Beware the fidgeter!

TEFL students
Ghana Teaching | © Frontierofficial/Flickr

The audio learner

Auditory learners love an oral exam, or a cassette. They love listening and discovering things about language through sounds. If you find yourself with a class heavily laden with these TEFL students, then consider realigning your curriculum plan to include more songs, poetry readings, film clips and roleplays, all of which have that all-important audio component.

The shy one

When it comes to teaching young TEFL students, it’s really important to pay extra attention to the shier kids in each class. These guys might need just a little more encouragement to get them engaged with the target language. Partnering them up with a more confident student can sometimes help spur their learning on, while using effective introductory games at the start of each lesson can embolden their willingness to speak and participate in student talk time.

The confident one

The polar opposite of the shy student is the confident one. Always eager to answer and participate, and typically great leaders in group games and role playing, these guys won’t need much encouragement when it comes to getting stuck into your EFL games and exercises. The problem? Over-confidence. Keep their learning grounded by offering regular challenges and the chance to test those language convictions.

TEFL students
Students using technology | © Brad Flickinger/Flickr

The fidgeter

Woe to the teacher who finds themselves in front of a whole class of fidgeters! These TEFL students are the ones who simply can’t help playing and touching and fiddling with equipment. You’ll need to keep a beady eye on these kids, and pay extra special attention when you’re doing ESL games that involve arts and crafts. Yep, I’ve had glue all over the hands, straws thrown out of the school window, ping pong balls whizzing around my head – all in a day’s work for the fidgeter!

The kinaesthetic learner

When it comes to taking a class full of energetic children, you may think that every child fits the bill of the kinaesthetic learner. Watch closely though and you’ll see that some TEFL students simply work better than others when it comes to deriving target language and language skills from activities. In short: These guys are the ones that love playing games and making things.

The class clown

You might remember the class clown from your own days in school. You know, that attention-loving student who simply can’t go without adding a ‘witty’ word to the exercise instructions; the one who’s always cracking and revelling in the jokes. Learn to love and direct these guys and you can create a jovial atmosphere in the classroom. Don’t give them too much slack though, or you’ll quickly find you’ve crossed that all-important proverbial line and are now the butt of the joke, not a part of it!

TEFL students
Students using technology| © Brad Flickinger/Flickr

The visual learner

Visual learners remain one of the most suited to classroom learning. They’re the best at taking target language from visual prompts, which means things like flashcards and presentations, posters and pictures all work excellently. Decorating your classroom with murals and images can help to motivate these guys.

The hyperactive ones

Ah, the hyperactive ones. These ones will hop, jump and move around the classroom like you wouldn’t believe. They’re capable of running non-stop on very little (but those sugary sweets they often turn up with don’t help matters either!). They’ll be the ones standing when you ask people to sit, and always first up when you announce it is time for a physical activity. Just keep things active and energetic in the classroom and you shouldn’t find managing these guys too difficult – maybe.

The natural linguist

Last but certainly not least comes the holy grail of all TEFL students: the natural linguist. A passion for grammar (I know, weird right?) and a vocabulary like a veritable walking dictionary are two of the main things you’ll notice about these ones. And while you might think that would make for the perfect student, teachers should beware, because these guys will often dust off exercises faster than everyone else, nail those oral games like it’s nobody’s business and have their thumbs twiddling in expectation for the next part of the lesson before anyone else has even started!


Have you experienced any other types of TEFL student? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Or, are you interested in getting some more classroom skills? Head over to our courses page for more information…

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