3 Reasons Why Students Get Motivated to Learn a Foreign Language
Increasing student motivation in the classroom is closely tied to student-teacher rapport. Throughout my career as a classroom teacher and lacrosse coach, I have found that students perform better for teachers they “like”. I use quotations on the word “like” because I believe it is a student’s way of expressing a strong relationship built on trust and respect with their teacher. Students will also perform better in classes they “like” as well. In this sense, I believe students are attempting to explain that the class they “like” is engaging and relevant to them. As a high school and middle school lacrosse coach, I have had the unique opportunity to talk with my players about their academic lives in a casual and low-stress environment. As a teacher, I take their answers seriously and have tried to use our discussions to improve my teaching techniques. Based on these discussions, my experience, and the information provided from this course and others; I have made the following conclusions.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ryan W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
1. Willingness to do tasks
First, I would define student motivation as a student’s willingness to try their best when faced with any academic task. I do not believe that grades necessarily reflect motivation but sometimes the two are associated with each other. Specifically, in the language classroom, a motivated student will typically present as an engaged student who is willing to take risks during activities. Motivated students can be created through several factors controlled by the teacher. The three factors I will discuss in this paper are course relevance, student confidence, and engagement level of classroom activities.
Creating a semester plan that students find important and relevant to their own lives is the first step in fostering motivated students. To develop a relevant semester plan, some important factors should be considered. The first factor is an answer to why students are learning English. The teacher must establish semester goals for their students and these goals must be aligned with what students want or need in regards to advancing their English learning. For example, semester aims for a course preparing students for high stakes testing in university should be different from semester aims to prepare students to travel to an English-speaking country. Finding ways to make lessons relevant can be done through research and pre-assessments. Pre-assessments are also useful because teachers can customize the level of their teaching to the class. Courses that are too challenging or easy for students can negatively impact student motivation.
2. Abilities to do second language tasks
Student confidence is directly tied to a student’s ability to perform non-native language tasks. It is of the utmost importance for teachers to create a classroom environment that builds student confidence. Student confidence is developed when the teacher provides students with the correct amount of feedback in the correct way. Overcorrecting students can negatively influence their confidence while failing to provide students with enough feedback can cause them to feel they are not learning enough. Furthermore, students will have more confidence if they trust the teacher. In my experience, I have learned that student-teacher rapport is built on trust and understanding. With strong student-teacher rapport, students will have greater confidence in the classroom and as a result, have higher motivation.
3. The level of engagement
Finally, if all else fails students are often motivated by well-designed and engaging lessons. English language lessons should provide students with scaffolded learning as well as create opportunities for them to show their understanding. Lesson plans that motivate students allow students to challenge themselves academically and express themselves in the classroom. When a teacher puts time and effort into designing creative activities, students will learn English without feeling like they are doing work. Language learning is a wonderful opportunity for students to participate in role-plays, creative writing, and dialogues, by taking advantage of these opportunities a teacher can create a wonderfully engaging environment that will improve student motivation.
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In general, student motivation is extremely important in student achievement. When students feel motivated in the class they are more likely to perform well. Teachers play an important role in fostering student motivation. By designing a course that is relevant to student goals and values, establishing trust within the class, and by designing creative and engaging lesson plans, a teacher can increase student motivation and achievement.
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