Ear Health

Headsets can be a headache

To pass the certification process you do need audio equipment of some kind. Headsets are preferred but earbuds will be allowed as long the quality is up to par. 

I am of the opinion that you want to look as professional as can be and headphones are a major part of your presentation as a teacher so how they look and sound matters to me. That being said teachers have taught using nearly every situation we can think of. 

When it comes down to comfort

Some people are just more sensitive to others and after a few classes wearing these cans all day long can feel like your head is in a vice. This should not be too difficult of a problem to fix in most cases. 

The first thing you need to do is identify what it is about your current headset that is causing pain. 

Some of the more common reasons for pain.

  • Presses on the ears.

  • Clamp too tight (head squeeze)

  • Too hot

  • Band digs into top of head

  • Glasses pressed into skull

  • Infections

Buy a more comfortable pair. 


This might be the best option if you find that you need a different type of setup like an over the ear model versus on top of the ear. 

I am not even going to try to make a lot of recommendations for which pair you should try. There is not always a positive correlation between price and comfort. Read reviews is the best guidance I can give. The good news is that you probably don't have to buy a different pair. First try to engineer your headset to fit more comfortably. Customize it to your unique body.

Buy new Cushions

This is going to solve a lot of problems. Many headphones come with cheap fake-leather ear pads.


The solution is simple: Buy softer, more breathable velour (or fake velour) ear pads. Even if your headset came with great ear cushions, they wear out over time and need to be replaced.Many companies make inexpensive third-party pads for popular headphone models, so search around Amazon to find the right pair for the model you own. You may need to head over to google and search for your model of headphones and “velour ear pads” to see what others have found.

Stretch them out

Books work great as a stretching rack. 

Stack them until they’re about the width of your head, or a tad wider. Then stick your headphones over this improvised stretcher whenever you aren’t using them. After a few days, they should start feeling a little more comfortable.

Just be careful not to stretch them out too much—better to start small and work your way up.

If your headphones have metal bands, like the Sony pair shown above, you can also bend them by hand as shown in this YouTube video

If the headband hurts your head, get padding.

Again, this is an area where each manufacturer does things a bit differently. You could end up with some nice memory foam pad or just a metal band wrapped in thin cloth. Once again the solution is quite simple.

Search around and find some pads that will fit your particular model. 

Headphones and Glasses

Many of the solutions described above can be used to relieve pressure on the frames. 

  • Reduce Clamping Force

  • Thicker Pads are better

  • Over the Ear are more comfortable (widely held consensus)

  • Cut a groove in the ear pads. 

One thing to try is cutting out a groove in the ear cushions to go over the frames of your glasses. You can see in this video how one guy accomplished this.

Headphones Just Aren't an option.

For many, when it comes right down to it, headphones are not going to be an option. Keep in mind, the firemen tend to like us to use headphones. If there is a complain about a class one of the first thing they will be looking at is your head gear. There is ample anecdotal evidence that the firemen will ask you to put a headset on. 


For a lot of people these are a solution, for others they can cause pain in the ear canal. Quality is a concern so be sure to get a good pair if you go this route which will prevent the fireman from asking you to put headset on. The apple earpod and airpods have gotten some great reviews.  Keep in mind that earbuds carry increase risk for ear infection and hearing damage.

When All Else Fails

Using the speaker is going to be the final option. This could definitely impact the audio quality of the class so it is best for everyone including you and the student to use a quality conference meeting style speaker. For around $50 you can get one and again teachers have reported very good results. The room you are in can really effect the audio, for example if you are in a really large spacious room you could create more of an echo. Sound proofing a room to some extent could help with the echo if it's an issue.

This speakerphone from Jabra has gotten high reviews from tachers

Take care of your ears

  • Don't wear head phones all the time. This day and age with all the audio options available in the modern age we often lose track of how much time we spend with wither headphones or ear buds on. They are associated rates of ear infection and hearing loss. Limiting the amount of time wearing them would be advisable.

  • Gently massage your ears between classes to get the blood flowing, it's a great stress reliever!

  • Pay attention to the Decibels. Hearing loss is something to be concerned about, it's easy to allow the volume to creep up louder than we realize. Hearing damage is something you're not likely to notice until it's too late.

  • Clean your head-set. To prevent infections.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.

The sole purpose of this site is to serve as a resource of online ESL teachers. To educate and promote safe occupational health measures that to enhance the teaching experience.