Active Approach to Motivating Students
When it comes to learning English, some students already have a strong source of motivation. This could be for many reasons, such as a desire to move to an English-speaking country, to be able to communicate with English-speaking friends, or even simply because they enjoy the language and culture.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Julianna W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Motivation and Age
When teaching adults, it is more common for them to be independently motivated, since they are likely taking the class by their own choice. For children, however, they do not necessarily have a choice in learning English. For this reason, they can easily become bored and lose motivation. It’s also possible that students could feel like the language is too difficult, and they should give up. To combat these feelings, there are several ways to keep students feeling motivated and confident in their skills. This can be done by incorporating games into the lesson plan, tailoring lessons to students’ interests, and making sure the material is at an appropriate difficulty level.
Games and Other Activities
One way to motivate students is to use games in the classroom. Games are a great way for students to let loose, especially if they are self-conscious about their English skills. Since games create a more relaxed environment, they allow students to experiment with the language and have fun with it. Additionally, making lessons enjoyable by using games will make students want to go to class, instead of simply feeling like they have to. Games are especially useful for practicing the productive skills, and can easily be incorporated into the engaging or activate phase of a lesson. Additionally, games encourage student interaction, which also makes classes more enjoyable. Some examples of games that can be easily incorporated into English lessons are charades, jeopardy, and twenty questions.
Considering Students’ Interests
Tailoring lessons to suit students’ interests is another great way to motivate them to learn the language. Naturally, students will be a lot more exciting read materials about a topic they enjoy than a topic they find boring. To know what your students are interested in, getting to know your students as individuals are vital. Even though not every student will share the same interests, varying lessons and reading materials as much as possible will allow for a good balance that appeals to a variety of students. One way to make lessons more interesting for students is to incorporate authentic materials such as magazines, songs, and films into lessons. Since these materials are real, they are often more interesting, and there is an essentially unlimited supply to select from; this makes it easier to pick materials that would appeal to your specific students.
Choosing Learning Resources
Selecting materials that are of an appropriate difficulty level is another essential aspect of ensuring students are motivated. If materials are too easy for students, they will quickly become bored and feel that going to class is pointless. Materials that are too easy may make students feel like they are not learning anything, and may prevent them from seeing the progress that they want, which could deeply damage their motivation. Similarly, choosing materials that are too difficult can have a damaging effect as well. This is a danger that must be considered when using authentic materials. For example, if you ask elementary level students to read an English newspaper, they will likely become discouraged by how little they can understand. This will make them feel like all their hard work was somewhat pointless, and that they will never reach the level of fluency they hope to. To combat this, it is important to give students materials that are challenging, but still understandable, so that they can feel good about how much English they do know.
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While some students already have strong motivation to learn English, others are only doing so because they are obligated to. In any case, a good teacher has the power to motivate any student by making sure their lessons are fun, interesting, and level-appropriate. Students who are motivated are more likely to succeed and have a good experience learning English, so a lack of motivation is not something that should be ignored.
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