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The Art of Motivating EFL Students

The Art of Motivating EFL Students | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Most lucky people have had one or two teachers who inspired them to be better in both their educational careers and in their personal lives. Depending on the number of students a school has any teacher has the opportunity to be that “special teacher” for a student because every student is different, so teachers should always be looking for new ways to motivate their students.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Sean M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Reasons to Motivate

Motivation in the classroom is integral to a student’s success in their educational career. If a student is not motivated to achieve their goals then they will not apply themselves in their coursework. A student’s level of motivation can rely heavily on the teacher's influence in the classroom; and whether or not that influence is positive or negative. There are two types of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation comes from within the student; they do well because they want to or because they love the topic being taught. Extrinsic motivation comes from sources external to the student such as good grades or praise. Every student has different motivators so it is up to the teacher to help find a general set of motivators to help students achieve their dreams.

high school students

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Types of Motivators and Students’ Age

These motivators can and should change with the age of the students; however, some good examples of extrinsic motivators are stickers, announcing a good grade in the class, writing kind messages on papers/ tests. Intrinsic motivators are harder to pin down because that type of motivation comes from within a student; however, a way to intrinsically motivate a student is to show them that you are genuinely, fully committed to their success, giving the students choices in the classroom and their learning experience, and by creating relevant lessons to the students age and interests. (Kirk, 2007)

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Internal Motivation

The act of communicating in a new language can be motivating to s student because there are endorphins that realized when a person can do so; students then seek out new a more complex way to achieve that rush again. There are ways for the teacher to tap into this intrinsic motivator and that is by making the class more communicative. The more students have the chance to speak the more they can get the rush of using their new language abilities. This can be accomplished by limiting teacher talk time, arranging the room in pairs or groups, limiting the use of the native language, by “flipping the classroom”. Flipping the classroom is when a teacher gives the study portion of the class as homework and allows students more class time to practice and activate their language skills. By giving students more time to practice in a safe environment students have the opportunity to master fluency techniques that can bolster their confidence in real-world situations; the information taught in class then becomes more practical.

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A great way to increase the amount of practical information a student is taught is by having students translate and work with real-world materials such as newspapers, advertisements, short stories, songs, television clips, radio programs, and YouTube videos. These materials are easily acquired by the teacher and do not use language that is graded for the students' language level which can and will make the exercises more challenging yet more applicable and fun. Students need to have fun to be motivated to learn and try new concepts in a classroom setting so it is up to the teacher to create a fun learning environment. (Verner, N.D.)

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