What is emotional intelligence in ELT?

Emotional Intelligence and ELT

Emotional Intelligence and ELT


  • Activities
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

ELT teaching is not only about knowledge of a language and the newest teaching techniques. ELT has a psychological dimension too. 

In this article, we are going to talk about emotional intelligence and its importance for successful English teaching.

What is emotional intelligence?

First and foremost, we are about to clarify what emotional intelligence is. 

Emotional quotient (EQ) or emotional intelligence (EI) is the capacity to recognize, understand, express, regulate, assess, and utilize emotions in order to interact and connect with people positively and productively.

The capacity to see, comprehend, and regulate one’s own emotions is just as important as the capacity to express and regulate emotions in others. Some experts even state that EI is much more important for succeeding in life than IQ. 

It is hard to tell whether it is true or not, however, we do agree that an English lesson can’t be successful with a teacher who lacks emotional intelligence and therefore can’t connect with the students properly. And vice versa, it is hard to manage a class where nobody has ever provoked EI and put a strong emphasis on developing it.

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How does one know they are emotionally intelligent?

The main question remains the following: how do we know whether we are emotionally intelligent or not?

Well, here are some of the main markers of emotional intelligence:

  • the capacity to recognize emotions in others;
  • a knowledge of one’s own advantages and disadvantages;
  • acceptance of oneself and confidence;
  • being able to move on past errors;
  • capacity to tolerate and embrace change;
  • high sense of curiosity, particularly about other people;
  • compassion and empathy for other people;
  • being able to recognize one’s faults;
  • the capacity to control feelings under any circumstances.

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What are the main components of emotional intelligence?

According to research, there are four distinct emotional intelligence levels: 

  • Perception. Accurately recognizing emotions is the first step towards comprehending them. This frequently requires interpreting nonverbal means of communication like body language and facial expressions.
  • Reasoning. Using feelings to encourage thought and mental effort is the next phase. Our emotional responses actually help us prioritize what we pay attention to and react to.
  • Understanding. Once you spot someone’s reaction, it depends on how emotionally intelligent you are to understand it correctly. An emotionally intelligent person knows how to foresee multiple reasons behind an emotion as well as emotional reactions as consequences of certain actions.
  • Management. Effective emotion management is a critical component of emotional intelligence. Important components of emotional management include controlling one’s emotions, reacting correctly, and handling other people’s emotions.

Why is emotional intelligence so crucial?

Now, more and more we see an increasing attention to EI within ELT. The reasons for that are pretty simple. EI is proven to reduce bullying and promote academic success for students in addition to enhancing health and well-being. 

Here are some more reasons why promoting EI is crucial:

  • Considering before reacting. People with emotional intelligence understand that while feelings might be strong, they can also pass. The emotionally intelligent course of action would be to wait before responding to a highly charged emotional situation. The principles of EI state: everyone is able to control their emotions and consider all the variables more logically as a result.
  • A greater level of self-awareness and self-analysis. In addition to being well-trained in interpreting other people’s emotions, emotionally intelligent individuals are also highly reflective about their own emotions. They know what affects them and how. Therefore, it is easier for them to analyze certain responses as well as avoid destructive feelings and actions.
  • Positivity towards others. EI people tend to express more gratitude and sympathy towards others. Moreover, they tend to talk the problems through much quickly and therefore avoid serious arguments and misunderstandings.
  • Increased stress-resistance. Knowing oneself as well as being able to interpret other people’s behavior reduces stress and is generally very helpful while treating anxiety

Using Boards in ELTs

How can emotional intelligence be enhanced within an ESL class?

Activities that encourage conversation and idea exchange help students with developing their emotional intelligence. The following strategies should definitely be included in the teacher’s toolkit of exercises for boosting confidence and EI:

  • Icebreakers, warm-ups, and mingling activities. They encourage student interaction and help them get to know one another.
  • Discussions and brainstorming sessions. They promote the exchange of ideas and viewpoints.
  • Role-plays and simulations. Some students find it simpler to express themselves through a made-up character and made-up situations. Moreover, putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes can definitely boost students’ EI.
  • Group work and project-based tasks. Within such a range of activities, every participant gets a chance to express their idea. Needless to say, ideas do differ, therefore, students learn to compromise, cooperate, and adjust. 
  • Guided reflection sessions, providing performance comments, and outlining expectations. While all of these activities are not necessarily about learning English, they are crucial when it comes to developing EI, learning to build personal strategies, and boosting motivation and confidence. 

Dos and don’ts of emotional intelligence practice in ELT

Promoting positivityGetting angry and shouting
Providing with freedom to express feelingsRestricting emotional responses in the class, avoiding adjustments to the situations.
Suggesting solutionsPunishing for mistakes
Verbalizing needs and aimsConstantly changing aim, objectives and principles of evaluation. Being sure that students don’t have to know all the details.
ReflectingMaking students obey

Does emotional intelligence help to deal with anxiety?

 Is restricting students’ expressions a part of EI?

Do group activities promote EI?

Article authors & editors
  • Arina Kravchenko

    Arina Kravchenko


    Teacher of General English & IELTS



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