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How to Motivate High School Students in the ESL Classroom

How to Motivate High School Students in the ESL Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Motivation in the classroom is the biggest reason why I teach students in a high school setting. I am a public-school teacher and I get English as a Second Language students all the time in my classroom. I am a 10th-grade teacher but my students' ages range from 14 years old to 19 years old. The number one factor that I teach is for motivation. My students are already matured and have seen things they probably should not have at their ages. Once they get to my classroom, they are mine to teach. I do my utmost best to teach my students. I have students from all over the world, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Egyptian, Asian, Africa, to name a few countries. I now have wonderful scores. I also have a high likability rating from my students; the reason being motivation: but that wasn’t always the case.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Chandra L.

"My students were not motivated to learn."

When I was a teacher new to teaching ESL, my students were not motivated to learn; they sat and talked with someone that had the same language. They were not interested in learning from books but did want to learn English for getting and maintaining a job. My scores as a teacher were horrible. I couldn’t get my students to learn anything. The parents could never come to meetings because they were always working. The children were babysitting younger children and/or siblings. I didn’t have any relationships with my students and they didn’t care about building a relationship with me. They just wanted to obtain enough language to speak to get a job to help with the bills for their family.

"I start asking questions what do they want to do in life; what are their life goals, what do their parents want for them?"

The students that I teach come into my classroom not knowing much English they are a beginner to low intermediate students. I start talking about college and universities and I start getting their parents involved as well. At school, we have college day, which I have my students heavily involved in.

I start asking questions what do they want to do in life; what are their life goals, what do their parents want for them? I ask many, many questions and I start building that relationship, not just with the students; but with their parents as well. I show students how to get that better life; and it is through education. I first explain they need to graduate high school; and then we go over the exams and what all they need to do to graduate high school.

Also read Great Ideas for Teaching Writing Skills in the ESL Classroom

By the end of the year, we are writing college essays for them to apply for colleges. I was told by one student they didn’t know he could go to college; it was never an option for him; and when I told his parents that yes, that was a very real possibility his father cried. His father explained he only had a fifth-grade education and he would love for his son to graduate from a university. He applied and was accepted in college four years ago and has one year left. That got around, and now all the ESL students want in my classroom; my scores are just rocketing, I have even applied for Distinguish Teacher program this past year. My students are now very motivated to learn and get into the college environment.

"Anyone who is teaching students that are learning English as a Second Language should also be TEFL or TESOL certified."

I have turned my classroom and teaching environment around. I also have learned a great deal more with this course. I further understand more the intricacies for bridging the language and now feel that anyone who is teaching students that are learning English as a Second Language they should also be TEFL or TESOL certified. I have relationships with my students, I have relationships with my parents. My students have reason to be in high school and know they can further their education if they want to. A few of my students have not wanted to go to college, and that is o.k., it's their choice now. Before my students didn’t know it was a choice; now they do. I make learning relevant to my students; and in return the students let me learn from them and teach me about the world.

I can see the world from my classroom and the WORLD IS BEAUTIFUL.

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