5 Online Learning Fears Holding Back ESL Students (And How to Overcome Them)

Are you feeling hesitant about taking your studies online?

Do you find yourself struggling with fears that are preventing you from fully embracing the experience?

Don’t worry. We’ve got your back.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 5 fears most ESL students face regarding online learning and share some practical tips on overcoming them.

But before we dive in, let’s debunk a myth.

Contrary to popular belief, online education is not just a passing trend. It’s here to stay!

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 6 million students are enrolled in distance learning programs in the US alone, accounting for 30% of all enrolled students.

1. Fear of making mistakes and being judged

We get it.

It’s nerve-wracking to speak or write in a new language, let alone in front of other students.

But guess what?

Making mistakes is a natural part of learning, and nobody’s perfect.

Most online ESL programs are designed to help you learn without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious.

Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.

And if you make a mistake while speaking, don’t worry—nobody will judge you! We all make mistakes when we learn a new language.

As an ESL student, Maria says, “Initially, I was scared of being judged when I spoke in front of others. But I realized everyone is in the same boat, and we’re all here to learn.”

Just relax and permit yourself to make mistakes – it’s all part of the journey toward fluency.

2. Fear of falling behind

If you’re worried you won’t be able to keep up with the other students in your online class, don’t be!

Don’t compare yourself to others.

Remember that everybody learns at their own pace.

It’s okay if you need more time to understand certain concepts or practice specific skills.

You can manage your fear of falling behind by:

  • setting realistic expectations for yourself
  • breaking down the course material into bite-sized chunks

Try splitting the syllabus into weekly topics and taking notes during class. Also, don’t forget to take the time to review your notes after each session.

Remember, as long as you put in the effort and work hard. You’ll be able to keep up just fine.

And if you’re struggling to keep up with the other students, contact your instructor for guidance. They’re there to help you succeed!

Don’t let the fear of falling behind hold you back. With dedication and support, you can make steady progress toward your goals.

3. Fear of not understanding the instructor

This is another common fear among ESL students.

Most online instructors are patient and understanding and know how to explain things clearly so everybody can understand.

If there’s ever a time when you don’t understand something, don’t hesitate to reach out to your instructor for clarification. They’ll be more than happy to help!

And in case your teacher isn’t available, connect to other students virtually. Many online courses offer discussion boards or group projects, allowing you to collaborate with classmates.

Additionally, it’s crucial to practice speaking and listening skills regularly. Researchers suggest that ESL students need more small group and live instruction opportunities to improve these skills effectively.

Learning a new language takes time and effort, but it’s possible with dedication and support from your instructors and peers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or seek additional resources if needed.

“At first, I was hesitant to ask for help,” says Fatima, an ESL student. “But I realized that asking for help is the best way to learn and grow.”

So don’t hesitate – take advantage of all the resources available and keep pushing forward towards your goals!

4. Fear of running out of time

Life can be hectic.



Family obligations.

And it’s easy to worry about not having enough time to complete your assignments.

But the truth is, with careful planning and proper organization, you can make time for your studies.

And the great thing about online learning is that it’s very flexible!

  • Set aside a specific time each day or week to focus on studying.
  • Create a schedule and stick to it.

Also, as mentioned earlier, break down large tasks into smaller ones to make them more manageable. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and keep you motivated.

And don’t forget to take breaks! It’s important to reward yourself with short breaks throughout the day.

Remember, if you’re worried about not having enough time, talk to your instructor about it—they may be able to give you some extra time or help you create a schedule that works better for you. 

5. Fear of technical difficulties 

Now, this is the big one, the fear that keeps us all up at night.

You might be worried that your internet connection will go out or your computer will crash during a lesson.

Technical difficulties are one of the most common fears among online learners, but they’re also one of the easiest to overcome.

  • First, make sure you have a reliable internet connection and a computer that can handle the demands of online learning. If you’re unsure if your equipment is up to the task, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor for advice.
  • Secondly, most online learning platforms have plenty of resources available to help you troubleshoot any technical difficulties that might arise. Ensure you familiarize yourself with these resources; don’t be afraid to use them if you need help.
  • Finally, remember that your instructor is there to help you. If you’re experiencing technical difficulties you can’t solve alone, reach out to your instructor for assistance. They’ll be more than happy to help you get back on track.

Again, always ask for help if you ever need it—it’s available!


Fear is natural when trying something new.

But that doesn’t mean you must let those fears hold you back from achieving your goals. With some effort and helpful tips, you can overcome the most common fears that hold ESL students back from fully embracing online learning.

Remember, you’re not alone. Many students have successfully navigated the challenges of online learning and come out the other side with new skills and greater confidence. So don’t let your fears stop you from taking advantage of all the benefits of online learning.

Leap, put in the work, and watch your language skills soar!

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