Will motivated students learn more English?
2019-04-29 Linda Dunsmore Alumni Experiences
There is little doubt that students who are interested, involved and motivated are easier to teach. Motivated students are forthcoming and attentive, the class flows easily, and there is more response and creativity during activities. So, with a class full of motivated kids, we find our English class is more fun. But does that mean the students can learn as much?
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Melanie S.
The level of motivation is tied to the teacher’s response.
In many countries, in fact, in many traditional schools across the world, grammar drilling, memorization and recitation are primary methods of teaching. Some students learn the rules and memorize all the lessons. Their motivation is fanned by the praise and good grades earned by their success. Other students ‘tune out’ and fail, or graduate but remain largely ignorant of how to write or even read, and assume they are stupid. In this case, the lack of motivation is reinforced by disapproval and poor marks. In both cases, the level of motivation is tied to the teacher’s response. The problem is, armed only with facts, memorization and rules, even an honor student might be at a loss if required to create, reason, innovate.
Motivated students are more eager to learn.
It is my belief that a student whose motivation is nurtured, who interest has been aroused by the topics, methods, opportunities to create and to choose introduced in class, will develop creative and reasoning skills enabling him or her to have a much greater command of English by the end of the course. Where there is some actual desire, reason or motivation to communicate in a foreign language, the excitement and interaction will soon create greater fluency, leading to full sentences, ideas and conversations from just a few vocabulary words. Admittedly one’s grammar and knowledge of the rules may not be precise at first but this can develop with practice in speaking, listening, reading and writing rather than memorization of grammar points.
How to motivate your students
So we are left with the question how, exactly, to motivate. That answer seems to be rather well addressed by the Engage, Study, and Activate formula introduced in this course. The flowing pace and many possibilities for engagement, creativity and variety will grab many students who otherwise might fall by the wayside and learn little in a traditional English class.
Needless to say, a teacher must start by being interested in the students, finding out a little bit about them and what they care about. This information then can be the basis of the subject matter covered in material taken from books, videos, songs class vocabulary, and class activities and games. But topics that already interest the student might not carry a teacher through all of the course material.
So a teacher will need to choose some topics that are common to most people, bearing in mind that there are topics such as travel, classic literature, Christmas, shopping malls, which could alienate students who may never have left their hometown. But nearly every student has some form of a family, wears clothes, has a daily routine, uses some form of transportation and buys something at a shop. Used in the service of interesting activities - like role-plays or word games, creating daily schedules, taking surveys – even these more generic topics can be motivating. What I am saying is, a perceptive teacher might use nearly anything to create interaction, and interaction is intrinsically motivating.
Are you ready to teach English as a foreign language?
We have seen that motivated students will learn more English. In fact, we can see that motivated people are responsible for all human achievement in every field. So our job as teachers seems to be to create environments and opportunities which motivate students to communicate extensively in our English classes and proficiency, or at least genuine learning, will follow.
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