Teaching ESL To Students With ADHD by Micah Clarke - Profesor/a de inglés

Teaching ESL To Students With ADHD

Teaching ESL To Students With ADHD

The topic of language learning is a common one for many persons seeking to broaden their horizons, whether academically, socially or otherwise. However, the conversation seldom takes into consideration those students that are faced with ADHD. One of the major challenges that teachers of students with ADHD face is the student’s talkativeness. (Yes, there are other manifestations, but the focus is on the talkativeness). It is a common perception that the child’s talkativeness is a disruption or disallows for a successful class session. For some teachers, this may be true, but I disagree! This talkativeness, in my opinion can be turned into a positive tool for ESL learning.

 How. . .?

Language is the primary tool for communication and verbal communication is one of the more popular modes of communication. Yes, it is a fact that the student may have some challenges with written language, but with time, writing skills can be developed. Why not focus on verbal communication in the interim? According to Ethnologue, over three thousand languages in the world are not written (yet everyone communicates with each other). The aim is not to disregard written modes of communication, but rather, focus on the mode that the student is most in sync with. In doing so, time is not wasted on trying to get the student to settle down. If this approach is taken, then what society deems as the student’s weakness becomes their greatest strength. And this results in a positive outcome for ESL learning from the interactions.  

I may not be an expert on the dynamics of the human brain or ADHD, but as a language teacher with ADHD, I can confidently say that there is a lot of untapped potential in many students with ADHD. What is needed, is perhaps a teaching approach that focuses on language development through verbal communication.

So, as a teacher with ADHD, I ask myself, “Micah, what are you doing to bridge the gap?”. My response to my own question is clear and remains constant, “I provide my students with what I needed when I was a young student”. Now, rather than limiting language learning to a classroom, a board, using paper and pens, language will be learnt through hands on experiences. Through walks in the parks, visits to the zoo, a hike or other recreational experiences, students will be able to develop their ESL skills.

Even though my outlook is all optimistic and a beautiful one, it has been a challenge in the current situation. In order to reap the best results from this language teaching approach, the interaction must be a face-to-face one. I have been teaching online for approximately 18 months online now, and even some of my most attentive students are facing challenges staying focused and motivated. Now, if they face that challenge, it is most definitely going to be a far greater challenge for a student with ADHD. What is left now, is to either find a new approach or hope that we follow the necessary protocols to ensure that face-to-face communication becomes permissible in the near future.


Eberhard, David M., Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2021. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Twenty-fourth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com.

1ª Clase Gratis