3 reasons students procrastinate — and how to help them stop

You know, there are periods of peaks and valleys. Not only in studying English, but in any sphere of life. The point is not to let yourself give up during doldrums, try to pull yourself together and make these unproductive periods as short as possible. We, teachers, very often act not only as facilitators, language partners, mentors, but motivators as well. In this article, I would like to discuss three reasons why students procrastinate and how can we help them.


Here are some common reasons why students can start procrastinating.

Stuck in a rut

The student has been studying for quite a while and feels that there is less and less result. He or she feels stuck on the same level, classes do not bring as many positive emotions as before. He/she can feel bored with similar tasks, working with the same book and playing the same games, and thus be less motivated to do something at home.

A shift of priorities

Sometimes when it rains, it pours. The student has to change his/her job, he/she has a conflict in their family or someone is ill. Definitely, English is not in focus even if they have a clear goal. Or a student may have to study at work, attend some conferences at work, study another language — whatever. These things can also distract him and make him not wish to do anything at home or even in class.

It is dull

Definitely, no one will say directly that they think that the lessons and home tasks are boring. But you will see that students do less and less and find no time for homework. Students may seem demotivated, showing no interest in the material and activities you do. 

So maybe it’s time to change something?

What can we do?

  • Give a student a little shake. These could be some unusual lessons based on student’s interest, such as songs, films, series or vlogs. 
  • Challenge a student: find another student who he/she can compete with. 
  • Make them find a language partner. It would be great if the language partner has a different L1 than your student.
  • Establish a short-term goal that he/she can reach in a short period of time, for instance, in one month. Once you bring a sense of achievement, the student can get a revival of their spirits and stop procrastinating.
  • Definitely, don’t pressurize the student. It is important to give support and a sympathetic ear (especially if something bad has happened). A student tells about his/her problem? And does it in English? Let them speak. 
  • Reduce the amount of homework or change its format. If you worked with Workbook at home, it’s high time to start watching videos, reading posts on Instagram* or Facebook*, writing a review on a book or a film or interviewing a family member.
  • Split the new information at the lessons into smaller portions and add more freer practice. If a student looks overwhelmed because of his work or errands, it would be hard to ‘digest’ high volume of information. This splitting will help a student feel progress and will probably make him want to do more.
  • Let them procrastinate! Why not? Every person may have a period of downturn. Let them rest for a week or two (I mean at home), and after that suggest trying hard again with restored energy.
*Instagram belongs to Meta Platforms Inc., whose activities are recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation.
*Facebook belongs to Meta Platforms Inc., whose activities are recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation.
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