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Why is Motivation Necessary in the ESL Classroom?

Why is Motivation Necessary in the ESL Classroom? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Motivation is a special ingredient in achieving goals. It is a necessary factor that urges us to act. A person is motivated when his or her activities are positively focussed on a certain end.

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

There are two forms of motivation:

Extrinsic motivation is the kind of motivation stemming from an exogenous influence.

The goals to achieve have been set by school, teachers, or parents. Also avoiding punishment can be an extrinsic motivation. An example of extrinsic motivation is when a student does his or her homework to avoid trouble the next day in school and that the student can play football with his friends after homework.

Intrinsic motivation is the kind of motivation that stimulates activity from an impulse within.

Things we are interested in or are attractive to us can be highly motivational. An example of intrinsic motivation is when a teacher can motivate students to read because they are interested in the subject. The problem with intrinsic motivation is that it doesn't apply in every situation in the classroom.

We could state that intrinsic motivation is a goal of education which is initially based on extrinsic motivation.

But not every student is the same motivation type. The teacher has to bear in mind that students bring different experiences, motivations, and behavior to the classroom. In general, among students there are four different motivation types a teacher should be aware of:

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Peer-dependent motivation type

Most of the younger students belong to this group. These are strongly influenced by their friends and classmates.

Teacher-dependent motivation type

The teacher has a great influence on their enthusiasm for learning.

Peer- and teacher-dependent motivation type

The quality of the relationship between teacher and classmates is important.

Peer- and teacher-independent motivation type

Motivation not dependent on the influence of classmates and teachers. This type does not fit in the traditional school system and is by far the rarest type of student.

At the beginning of their school career children absorb much new information.Inquisitive as they are at the start, they ask many questions and want to explore correlations and tell enthusiastically about their new insights.

Their intrinsic motivation is at a high level and this creates the best condition for learning. As soon as students enter secondary school motivation becomes one of the most important factors when it comes to success.

When children socially evolve they internalize values, rules, and form a habit of behavior. This also means that they develop their way of thinking, feeling, and acting. This is the stage where rebellion, apathy, isolation, and avoidance can be of great danger. Apathy can generate different behaviors in a demotivated student who may be difficult to manage. The natural curiosity decreases and the frustration begins.

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Therefore, it is important to motivate students, especially when they become teenagers with more and more different interests other than school.

But motivation can help by being inspirational.While adult learners will usually have made their own decision to attend classes and as such will be quite motivated, young learners, however, have rarely made this decision for themselves and maybe somewhat lacking in motivation.

The relationship between learners and teachers is a very relevant and complex issue. An enthusiastic, sensitive, motivated, and caring teacher is much more likely to have successful students who enjoy their learning and will want to continue classes.A good teacher also should be kind and patient. He or she should be able to involve all students equally throughout the lesson and should know their weaknesses, trying to give help and individual attention where necessary.

There are many kinds of motivation-methods and techniques a teacher should know and support. At the same time, the teacher should be aware of appropriate techniques for the students ́ different ages and language levels.

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Research in this field has suggested that more project-based work and learning content relevant to everyday life can help ensure the students' willingness and desire to learn. Also, using a greater mix of media is helpful and effective to involve students in the lessons. When the learning content is wrapped in thrilling stories, for example, students will happily engage themselves.Differently stressed senses activate different regions of the brain. Let the students learn with the brain, heart, and hand. Students process what they have learned more intensively this way and will remember it longer. By treating students as individuals and showing interest in each of their needs, the teacher can build up a good rapport.Encourage students to be curious by teaching lively and entertainingly. Using mime, gesture and voice effectively can help enormously.Eventually, a highly motivated student builds up more self-confidence than an unmotivated student.

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„Teachers should focus on students'efforts and not only on their abilities. When students succeed, teachers should praise their efforts or their strategies, not their intelligence. When students fail, teachers should also give feedback about effort or strategies which the student did wrong and what he or she could do about it. In other words, teachers should help students to value the effort.“ (from an interview on "education world" with Carol S. Dweck, professor of psychology at Columbia University, USA, is a leader in the field of motivation, personality and developmental psychology)

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