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How an English Teacher Can Help Their Students Increase their Level of Motivation

How an English Teacher Can Help Their Students Increase their Level of Motivation | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Intrinsic motivation is the type of motivation that comes from within a person. An intrinsically motivated student who is highly motivated will always, all things being equal, outperform the less motivated one. These are the students who simply enjoy what they are doing. They just like learning English.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Scott C.

Create a learning environment

It is the task of the English teacher to create an environment in the classroom which will maximize the opportunity to learn English. The English teacher is the one person who exercises the greatest influence on the student who is engaged in learning English. Once the student is in the classroom it is the teacher's attitude and approach to teaching English that will have the greatest effect on the student’s level of intrinsic motivation.

For a variety of reasons, students come into the classroom with differing levels and varying degrees of motivation. Some students are highly motivated from within, intrinsically. Some are also greatly affected by outside influences such as family and friends, extrinsically. Whatever the students level of motivation is, be it intrinsic or extrinsic, when they enter the classroom it is the students' teacher who is ultimately going to have the biggest effect on how motivated that student is going to become.

Also read: Getting Student Placement Right - The Best Desk Arrangements for EFL Students

Have an upbeat, positive attitude

It is the English teacher with an upbeat positive attitude that can make the difference as to whether-or-not the student achieves a high level of success in mastering English. How well the student masters English depends more on the attitude of their teacher than any other outside factor. It’s the wise teacher who knows how best to spark and grow the level of the student’s intrinsic motivation.

Increase verbal communication

One way the skillful teacher can increase intrinsic motivation is by increasing verbal communication in the classroom. The more that communication amongst the students is encouraged the more enjoyable the students will find the experience and the more motivated they will become as they begin realizing their language study goals.

Praise consistently

Whatever the students' ultimate goals, the success experienced on a daily bases in the classroom will magnify and increase as the student progresses. This daily achievement will cause the student to become more highly motivated to experience a feeling of self-fulfillment resulting in a student who is better prepared to learn.

Group activities are key

Group activities are an excellent way to make the class more communicative. The students can use the language which they already know as a means to work together between themselves as they accomplish each small task and basically continue learning from each other. This positive interaction between the students will build confidence and increase their motivation. A cheerful teacher interacting with the students in a positive manner will synergistically work real magic when it comes to improving motivation in the students.

Encourage classroom conversation

Beginning each class with a low key chat that comfortably engages the students in a welcoming non-threatening way is an excellent method which motivates the students to participate and learn in the process. Each day the teacher can give them a particular topic to discuss and other days just let the conversation flow naturally on its own.

Creating a “safe zone” type of environment is a method which maximizes creativity and motivates students to freely participate. The teacher should make their way around the room and into every conversation in order to steer the students while being available to answer questions.

When the class is begun in such a friendly and welcoming manner the students are motivated to want to learn thereby making it easier to move smoothly into the study or activate phases in a way that opens up the student both emotionally and mentally to positively participate in a productive class of learning English.

Focusing the class discussion on the practical issues and daily problems which the students face every day is an excellent way in which to elicit positive motivation from the students. An example of this is for the teacher to begin the discussion by asking the students questions regarding everyday problems faced by the students. If the students are motivated it will lead to a lively discussion concerning these practical concerns. With their interest level raised the intrinsic motivation will also be raised. This increased motivation will open the students' minds and lead to an enhanced amount of learning among the newly enthused classroom.

Create a fun class

Making class fun is a great way to increase intrinsic motivation levels. It’s just human nature when students are having fun their minds are more open to learning English. Here the motivation is intrinsic and comes from them rather than the teacher. It is the teacher's job to discover ways to make the classes more enjoyable for the students.

Some of the different possibilities include:

  • Using different types of social media is a great way to get the students to use their English while having fun. Speaking on platforms such as Facebook the teacher is using a strategy for learning both fun and practical.

  • Using various forms of pop culture is another method used by many teachers. Movies, magazines and contemporary music are three ways to introduce new vocabulary to the classroom. Integrating these medians into the curriculum is a fun and motivating way to involve the students in learning English.

  • Giving students the right amount of feedback is an important activity of the skilled teacher. The right quantity and quality of the feedback are critical for developing the right relationships with your students.

  • It's important to give positive feedback like compliments and encouragement as well as necessary criticism where it’s deserved. Teachers must remember that when they have to criticize a student’s work that they make sure that they serve up a compliment at the same time.

Also read: Top Online Lesson Plan Resources for New and Advanced Teachers

Are you ready to teach English abroad?

The skillful and effective teacher will be one that understands the importance of their students' motivation levels. They know that it is the attitude which they themselves bring into the classroom which is the most critical factor in determining just how successful a teacher will become. The teacher’s number one objective, therefore, must be to always be focusing on improving their own attitude each day so as to improve the motivation levels of their students.

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