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Challenges Faced by ESL Learners Due to COVID-19 and Remote Learning

The government and universities enforced procedures to avert the spread of Covid 19. The measures entailed the closure of universities, transitioning learning from traditional classrooms to online classes, and keeping social distance to those in school. However, the stay off-school measures led to learning challenges to ESL and remote learning students. Students can no longer interact as they used to. The abrupt closure of universities without a specified opening has left ESL students uncertain of their studies and future. According to a report released by the centers of disease control and prevention about the Coronavirus’s impact on ESL learners on 18 to 24 years old remote learning students, a quarter of them are struggling with English. Consequently, many students have reported limited access to ESL learning facilities. This seeks to investigate how American universities respond to students’ ESL learners amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

With limited access to English support, there have been anticipated tutors shortages across the education system, which has affected university ESL learners operating from their home. Covid 19 has led various learning’ with ESL learners to implement practices that were typically used at the end of the semester to prepare for impending analysis gaps throughout the summer break. The practices are not effective to ESL learners since less predictable communication modalities have been developed to form access for students disguising logistical encounters and finding it hard to attend in-person with English tutors during isolation relocations regularly. Additionally, some universities have resonated in inviting their students within driving distances to attend an in-person appointment which is a risk to the airborne disease.

ESL/English learners have been left to attend to home chores since many of their parents/guardians need to go to work. Attending to more than one sibling at home becomes hectic and hard to concentrate with school work hence making it hard for learners to catch up with other students. Universities have not responded by developing communication channels for the under-represented ESL learners populations reported to be facing greater stigma about seeking assistance, mostly ESL learner’s online support. Many universities are not communicating with the students on their choices and their impact on their career prospects. Reservations about the opening of learning institutions and career prospects have aggravated anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts among students. Learning institutions have not responded to the rising ESL learners’ issues among students by providing accessible ESL learners care for all students regardless of their states. ESL learner’s issues are more prevalent among students of color, LGBTQ+, and low-income students. Covid-19 pandemic has decreased ESL learning chances among these groups due to lack of the required and qualified ESL tutors who are less due to the pandemic.

ESL parents are not supportive enough as compared to how English speaking parents might be able to support learners. It becomes challenging to ESL parents to offer the kind of English needed for academic achievement in scenarios like reading in textbooks and classroom lectures. Commonly, such parents have a negative attitude towards the ESL learning considering that bilingual classrooms impend integration to American society. It is unfortunate that some parents do no comprehend the role ESL classes’ play in their children in the mainstream as compared to English speaking parents. Most of non-English parents are not aware of the ESL classes having standards like the mainstream classes because they associate the classes to special education.


Shahzad, S. K., Hussain, J., Sadaf, N., Sarwat, S., Ghani, U., & Saleem, R. (2020). Impact of Virtual Teaching on ESL Learners’ Attitudes under COVID-19 Circumstances at Post Graduate Level in Pakistan. English Language Teaching, 13(9), 1-9.


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