How Can a Teacher Enable an Environment that Will Encourage and Motivate Students?
Motivation - It can be a bugbear for students & teachers alike. When someone is motivated, a future of endless opportunity is not only visible but achievable and a tiresome task no longer seems as such, but more of an alluring challenge with fruitful rewards along the way!
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Robert D. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Although when motivation’s lacking, taking on the challenge of learning a foreign language can be a daunting one. A colossal amount of unfamiliar vocabulary, intonations & irregularity could swamp even the best of learners. Having spent over a year in Spain studying Spanish as a second language, one can empathize with an overwhelming feeling one may initially succumb to. Nonetheless, when an educator creates an environment where students can pursue a subject in a structured, engaging & productive way, pupils will not only learn but have the chance to excel in the process.
Also Read: Can I choose where I teach English abroad?
Student’s Genuine Interest
Something that a teacher has no initial control over is the appetite a student has to learn English. Motives and desire will differ student to student, some will be driven by intrinsic motivation, with a key goal in mind whereas some will need a little more nurturing. There are, however, many factors that a teacher can control that have a resounding impact upon their pupil's overall learning experience.
Applying Abraham Maslow’s theory of a pyramid-shaped hierarchy — physiological needs, personal safety, social affiliation, self-esteem, and self-actualization — to education can be an ideal way to assess students' progress and achievement.
‘In this theory, Abraham Maslow suggested that before individuals meet their full potential, they need to satisfy a series of needs.’
Some say that students can only be motivated and encouraged if the above needs are met. Therefore, in my personal experience, I feel a baseline element of assessing students will need to happen before any encouraging and motivating can actually take place. Going through Maslow’s pyramid allows the educator to be a humanistic teacher, taking in all students outside factors and ultimately, in my opinion, helping them on the personal journey through education.
Teaching to Make Mistakes Painless
Something a teacher can provide is a ‘fail-safe’ environment, giving students the freedom to fail, but acknowledge it as more of a step in the right direction. Something that can burden anyone's motivation is a failure. Failure in understanding the method, failure in grasping the reasons why failure in knowing the answer. Enough setbacks can extinguish the spark for a subject entirely. That's not to say, however, that with a change of perception and the right environment, a positive and productive spin can be put on ‘failure.’ If a teacher can subtly guide their students down the right path, giving them all the tools required to eventually get to the answer by their own accord, the genuine sense of personal achievement & progress should be enough to turn the spark, into a fire. Enabling a pupil to realize they can achieve their targets, with keep it fuelled. Learning a Language is a beautiful process with an enriching outcome, there should never be a ‘fear to fail’.
A teacher also has the control to relieve themselves of some of their powers and distribute it amongst the pupils themselves. What I mean by that is, open up the classroom for a more relaxed and communicative environment. Whether a teacher would care to admit it or not, students will generally build a more natural relationship with their peers as opposed to the teacher themselves. The result of this is pupils invariably want to engage more so with their classmates. This can, if managed correctly, work in the educator's favor. If a teacher can establish a good rapport with their students where respect is mutual, then teachers and students alike should benefit from a more communicative and engaged class. An educator can use this time to get to know their pupils, their desires and their weaknesses.
Something I can take away from spending a considerable amount of time learning a foreign language abroad was the chance to integrate with my peers during the learning (or study) stages, instead of fathoming out material individually, with great uncertainty.
Having the chance to experience the camaraderie with my classmates, knowing you are one of many on the same journey together, was enough to keep me motivated in every class. Implement the right formula, with decisive pairing between students and a structured, engaging class that should keep the pupils enthralled with the subject. This is language, after all. Its entire purpose is to enable communication. Allow students to enjoy the process and reap the rewards of hard work.
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A classroom where pupils feel comfortable with the process of failure enables a pupil to never fail, or see it as such. When a teacher takes away the daunting enormity of language and constructs engaging and structured classes, pupils feel confident to progress. When progress is shared, acknowledged and rewarded amongst students, the reasons ‘why?’ become ever more clear. A teacher that can create an environment that enriches students with confidence & self-belief, keeps the process stimulating and can keep the class engaged with you and one another. A classroom like a classroom doubt will allow an environment where students are motivated for the journey of learning a language.
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