A 1-2-3 Guide How to Become a Motivator For Your Students
When approaching a new language, one must understand that this will be a challenging journey. Not an impossible one, but a learning process that, sooner or later, will require a great deal of motivation, passion, and commitment. As educators, I think that our first duty is not only to really outline this journey for our students, but also to bring to life their inner motivation.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Flavia-Ioana S. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Teacher Role in The Learning Process
It is quite a well-known fact that while most of the students who decide to learn English, especially if we take into consideration adults, are self-motivated and they have a well-established purpose which drives them in learning this new language, there a few categories of pupils who either are not motivated, or they have not found their motivation yet.
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It is our role, therefore, to help them see the meaning behind learning English and successfully engage them in a productive study. I think it is mainly the teacher, who holds in his hands the power to either walk with the student and guide him or allow him to fall. In my opinion, an unmotivated student can and will find his motivation as long as the teacher stays by his side.
Before talking about different approaches to motivation as well as different types of students, I would like to state the following idea. I believe, from my own experience in a classroom, that the teachers who can motivate students the best are the ones who went on the same journey. Only through encountering the same difficulties and the ways to overcome them, can a teacher genuinely help his students. I do not say that this is the only way, but it might be the fastest and safest. Being myself a non-native speaker of the English language, I often encountered, in my years of practice, students who stumbled upon the same questions and confusions as I did. I was able to help them understand and grasp the hidden meanings only because I myself had to once understand and grasp the hidden meanings.
Looking at the human archetype, we can draw a few conclusion when it comes to the linguistic encounter. I would divide students into 2 main categories, young learners and adults. First of all, I would like to take a look at how motivation is present among these 2 categories. When working with young learners, especially kindergartners, teachers can easily divide them into 2 further categories: motivated young learners and unmotivated young learners. Most of the children have an innate curiosity and would, therefore, be interested and happy to learn a new language, as long as the teacher keeps their motivation alive. What exactly motivates young learners to be receptive to a new language? It could be playing, having fun, winning competitions and therefore the admiration of their peers or parents or a genuine interest in languages. A good teacher should quickly find already motivated children and continue to spark their interest and keep alive their motivation. This could be done through interactive games, extra worksheets if the student learns very fast, or praising.
What do we do, then, with the unmotivated child? How do we resurrect that inner motivation, or how do we help him find it? There are a few motives that could explain an unmotivated attitude. It could be the fact that learning a new language was the desire of the parents, it could be boredom or even fatigue (this is quite frequent in Asian countries where children have to attend different cram schools and study every day until the sun sets). There are a few ways to deal with this type of situation, a few that I had to try while teaching in Japan, and that, to my surprise, worked quite well.
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1. See Their Troubles
First of all, we should acknowledge their struggle. We should genuinely try to understand where their lack of motivation is coming from and, if possible, start working towards sparking their interest. We can show them that learning a new language can be fun. We should build their self-esteem and respect their desire to be involved or not in the lesson. If the child is tired, sometimes skipping homework or replacing a grammar exercise with a grammar targeted game is a good way of showing them that this journey might not be as bad as they thought it would be.
2. State Global Opportunities
I would like now to take a look at teaching adults. Although most of them are quite motivated, there might be a few reluctant students who do not wish to take the extra language hours after work. We should, first of all, ask them why they have to learn the language, who requires them to do so, and what approach they consider the most convenient for them. Showing them the bigger picture, or how them learning a new language would make a possible promotion or gain the admiration of their colleagues might be something to start with. Another good approach is to get to know our students. Once we are familiar with their interests and types of personality, we would be able to plan accordingly. Even an unmotivated student might find his inner passion if he sees the endless possibilities of learning a new language can bring.
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3. Show The Beauty of Language
Last but not least, motivation is the foundation of learning. The process of learning cannot exist if there’s no motivation to support it. The challenges and obstacles can only be overcome through a strong motivation, and I genuinely believe that it is an educator’s first and foremost purpose to motivate his students and show them the beauty of a new language and culture.
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