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What Drives Students in the Classroom

What Drives Students in the Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

How can a teacher motivate an EFL classroom? Motivation is a major part of learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL). There is more to motivation in the classroom than knowing English is a useful language to learn.

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

Importance of Motivation

Students should be motivated to attend and pay attention in the classroom. Each student should be constantly reminded of their own, personal reason to learn English. Finally, the best motivation comes from instilling a drive into students to have a goal which requires them to learn and understand English well. By keeping students motivated in each class, motivated in their reasons for attending the course, and motivated by a goal which requires them to master EFL, students will remain attentive in class and work hard to succeed as EFL students.

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Ways to Motivate

How are students motivated to attend and pay attention in an EFL classroom daily? The first step is to ensure the classroom is a pleasant place to be. The layout for desks and presentation materials (whiteboards, displays, teacher placement, etc.) are set up for student ease to eas see, hear, speak in the classroom. Hanging posters and learning materials not only related to EFL but also related to your student’s motivation to learn EFL throughout the classroom will always be more pleasant than bare walls and remind students of why they are attending the class. The teacher should always have a positive, energetic attitude when in the classroom and spend more time working with the students than simply presenting the information.

A method of motivating students to pay attention is to constantly keep them involved in in-class activities. Ask questions for the students to answer throughout each day’s lesson, remembering to name the student who will answer at the end of the question to encourage listening. Use games and other activities requiring direct action and input from the students to complete. By making the classroom a pleasant place where students are constantly engaged will motivate students to remain focused on learning EFL.

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Constantly remind EFL students of the reason they are learning English. During the first class, have the students fill out a questionnaire of the reasons they are taking the course and what their individual goals are. Then, incorporate the students’ reasons and goals into lessons and class activities. The Engage and Activate stages of the class should always be related to the student’s motivation for learning EFL. If the class is learning EFL because they need to understand English to do their job, use scenarios (business meetings, contract negotiations, etc.) they will encounter in their job and how the day’s lesson can help them succeed at work. If the students are learning English to better enjoy travelling to English speaking countries, have the students make a brochure of a place they want to visit. Using the students’ motivation and goals in the lesson and activities will show them a direct relationship between what they are learning and how they can use it to achieve those goals.

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Types of Motivation

The best type of motivation in the classroom is the hardest to develop in students but is also the most effective. This motivation goes beyond the motivation to simply learn English and inspires students to master EFL. An example is teaching business students EFL and motivating them to become not only good enough to be comfortable with the English language, but to be expert in the English language to expand their company into a primarily English-speaking market. As the Greek philosopher, Plutarch said, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”

Motivation in the classroom is very important in the success of students to learn. Motivation can be driven by the teacher's attitude and the environment of the classroom itself. The student’s individual motivation to learn and attend the class needs to be reinforced throughout the course and its lessons. Finally, the ultimate motivation to foster is the kind which drives students to not only succeed in EFL but to become experts in their studies, allowing them to reach achievements beyond their original goals.

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