Ways to Develop Students’ Positive Attitude
Our goal as EFL teachers is to get our students to learn to communicate through a second language; therefore we should try to make them want to learn it actively. For this, it is necessary to take into account several factors which affect the learning process, analyze how to better motivate students and encourage them towards positive attitudes in EFL competences; other student’s learning feedback, the classroom, the teachers, the English language and its culture.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Vicror L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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All of the aforementioned factors will affect our student’s motivation and as a consequence their way of learning. However, sometimes and as we know, previous or inherited attitudes can affect negatively creating inhibition and shyness among students. Generally, such attitudes are usually due to:
- Low self-esteem
- Family problems
- Environmental resistance towards the learning of a foreign language
- Rejection of the foreign language and its culture
- Learning difficulties
- Attention seeking behavior
Whatever the case and scenario, the teacher can analyze the different causes, show interest towards the students’ circumstances and schedule compensating activities of their interest when possible. Motivation rest on our part as teachers and has to do mainly with the attitude towards the accomplishment of a task.
Motivation is achieved through a combination of efforts, will to learn and a positive attitude. Therefore, motivation and attitude are directly related factors, since if students have a positive attitude they usually feel motivated.
Types of motivation
These factors, motivation, and attitude can be modified either by the students themselves or by external stimuli outside of the class or teaching institution; which is why I would like to highlight some differences between these types of motivations.
External motivations: They are triggered by factors related to aspects outside the classroom. For example, show interest in native people and their culture or have a desire to learn a foreign language for practical reasons: learn English to find a good job. This type of motivation is more oriented towards adults needs, but teachers must help students discover English culture and to develop in the positive and genuine attitudes towards speakers of the English language.
As seen external motivations are very important factors that affect a student’s performance. However, as a result of the lesser degree of impact teachers have on them I am going to concentrate a bit further on the Internal and personal motivations.
Internal and personal motivations: Have to do with factors related to what happens inside the classroom or teaching institution, student-teacher interaction and their impact on students’ motivation.
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Some of these factors
Physical conditions of the class
Lighting, number of students, the spatial disposition of the desks, decoration or heating can alter the motivation of students too. So, if the room is not sufficiently heated, ventilated, or properly lit and students are not comfortable they will probably not pay due attention to the teacher.
A methodology focused on the needs and interests of the Students reinforces motivation. Methodology should be sufficiently up to date to student’s mood and reality.
When teachers positively reinforce the students, they feel highly motivated and classes will be more productive and competence will increase.
If the student perceives that he obtains positive results while completing the activities, they will motivate even further. So as teachers, we must establish real objectives and plan activities adapted to the level of competence of the students.
Teachers must know if their students are outspoken, introverted if they have a high or low level of competence and self-esteem, and what their general tastes are. Also, we must take into account if they have a brief attention span, sense of curiosity or if they are or not dynamic. These aspects change according to nationality or social background and are aware of them, we can design appropriate activities and make them fit into our group of reference to increase student’s motivation levels.
Family, environment and social relations
This is perhaps one of the most important factors that influence motivation, especially with children and younger learners. If a student has parents who think that learning English is something useful and helpful, they will most likely encourage their son or daughter when presented with positive results, thus they may participate emotionally from something that the student learned. If, in addition, they are used to watching movies in English or with subtitles, or they already have bilingual dictionaries at home, or enjoy listening to English music or use the internet to work with the English language, they will have a deeper contact with it and will consider English as something that is already and naturally part of their life.
Paying due attention to all these factors will make the students feel more motivated in class and best encouraged to learn English. On the contrary, for reasons of location and cultural barriers we can also meet parents who think that English is not very useful, that will make your students feel apathetic with English and as a result, they will show little interest in learning.
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When it comes to teaching a foreign language we should keep in mind not only that we have to teach words, sounds, and grammatical structures but we also have to teach how to use the English language appropriately and fluently in contexts and situations of ordinary daily life. This implies to motivate the students and encourage in them an interest and a positive attitude towards the language: if they feel motivated they will want to learn it and include it in their work and daily life. To summarize, we should do that our students feel happy and comfortable when learning English.
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