The Secret Strategy on ESL Learner Motivation
I feel that this is a very important topic and part of the teaching experience, one of my biggest worries is that I won't be good enough at creating a classroom where the students feel encouraged, motivated and comfortable participating, of course, there are a lot of things that go into this, such as the way you teach the material and what you choose to teach, the way you maintain discipline in the classroom, how to create good rapport with all the students in your class, how to make the class "fun" and interesting for the students without trying to be TOO fun and derail from the point of the lesson, so I worry about a lot of these issues.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Marlon J. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Why is it necessary?
But, I think a very important part of this is knowing how to best motivate them, how to encourage them to participate, feel like they are integral to the class and that they have some sense of control, not always trying to guide them too much, especially young students are probably very curious and is important to encourage and nurture that curiosity.
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Ideas to motivate students
These are some of the ways I feel I could help my students feel motivated to keep learning and participate in class:
Setting up goals
By defining clear objectives at the beginning of the year, laying out a clear set of objectives and expectations of the students so that the students don't feel confused and have goals in mind to keep striving for. I feel that the students might feel frustrated and unmotivated to do their work or maintain discipline in class if the teacher doesn't set some boundaries and goals for the class to follow.
A very good way I feel that the students might feel better while working towards the objectives set at the beginning of the year is by not using threats in the class, I think a threat-free environment is key, while of course, the students need to be shown that their actions have consequences, it is probably a lot better for the students to treat them with positive reinforcement rather than with threats.
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Establishing a positive atmosphere
By creating a safe and supportive environment for students, encouraging them by believing in their abilities and not keep reminding them of the consequences of not doing their work, students might feel much more motivated to participate in class, do their work, their homework, be more likely to want to take responsibilities in the classroom which will definitely help them with their motivation. I feel like the student is more likely to meet the teacher's expectations when the teacher is good at communicating with the students and believing in the student's abilities.
Competition might also help increase the classroom's motivation, I think very often competition can be used in the wrong way and can end up hurting the students by shaming them for not doing as well or by simply creating an environment where other students might feel it's okay to bully the students who don't do so well. Using group games could foster a healthy spirit of competition with the students, that way the students might feel a lot less pressure because the activity is shared among others, and might free them to want to show off their abilities and knowledge a little bit which is always good.
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Learning about THEM
Which is one of the many reasons why getting to know your class is very important, being able to know their personalities, preferences and how they react to certain activities will be of tremendous help when it comes to the time to choose what fun group competition you might want them to do? You can also encourage further class interaction and student's sense of control over the class when you allow them to choose which activity they would prefer, I think it's important for the students to feel like they can steer the class at least a little bit and have a little fun, why not? I think allowing the students to choose which activities or assignments they would like to choose (among the choices you give them, of course) would be fun and make the students feel more encouraged by the teacher.
I lack teaching experience, but from my days as a student, there was something that always worked best when it came to motivating me and that was getting praised by my teacher when I did a good job. We all crave praise and recognition from others, even adults, so students are no different.
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I feel that when a teacher is very involved in the class, has taken the time to get to know the students, the teacher knows when a student has worked hard, and that is when this extra recognition after a job well done is a huge boost to the student's motivation, a simple great job is always nice but the teacher can further show their recognition by rewarding their success in public or just in front of the classroom or by sharing your amazing work with others, all these things help shape the student's psyche and motivate them to keep doing well in the class.
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