Motivation in the ClassroomAccording to Lile (2002), ?Motivation is the key to all learning. Lack of motivation is perhaps the biggest obstacle faced by teachers, counselors, school administrators, and parents.? A lack of motivation causes the most intelligent of students to underperform and underachieve. Therefore, teachers are responsible for creating an environment that fosters student motivation in the classroom. This is especially true in the TEFL or ESL classroom, in which students may already be feeling a considerable amount of anxiety due to the daunting task of learning a new language or being thrust into an unfamiliar culture. Motivating students in a TEFL class is not rocket science, though. TESL teachers have a wealth of tools at their disposal to make learning English fun for their students.
?First, at the beginning of the lesson, build a context where the target language might be used. Then ? when building a dialog or structure chart on the marker board ? attempt to elicit as much of that language as possible from the students,? (?student Motivation in the EFL Classroom.?). This first step depends on a precursor: effective lesson planning. Lile (2002) points out the importance of good lesson plans in creating a classroom environment that is conducive to motivation. Building a context around each lesson helps the students anchor the language learning in meaningful, real world activities.
Material used to teach must also be highly relevant for the students. ?Adults need to talk about adult things; kids
need to talk about kid things; teenagers need to talk about teenager things; all to build their interest in the lesson,? (?student Motivation in the EFL Classroom,? n.d.). students are highly motivated when they talk about themselves in the classroom, using the target language. Because of this, teachers should build lessons around the ability of students to share about their backgrounds or their favorite music. Teachers can also bring objects that make lessons more meaningful and interactive. ?Realia, the use of authentic items in lessons, also builds interest,? (?student Motivation in the EFL Classroom.?).
According to Clément, Zoltán, & Noels (2006), students are more motivated by ?xenophilic? classroom activities: classroom activities that are culture-positive and diversity-positive. Thanasoulas (2002) and Lile (2002) also claim that teachers are better off creating means by which to develop students? internal, intrinsic motivation. Using systems of reward and punishment are not as effective in the TEFL classroom, at least in the long run.
Activities such as cooperative learning can be helpful in increasing student motivation. Group processes involving the four-stage process of forming, storming, norming, performing are important to develop in a TEFL classroom (Thanasoulas, 2002). Moroever, the teacher needs to buld rapport between student and teacher and also between students and their peers. A supportive classroom environment is one that does not tolerate bullying and other anti-social behaviors. students who feel more supported in the classroom are more likely to be motivated to learn (Thanasoulas, 2002). Lile (2002) adds that teachers who are self-confident are more likely to motivate other students. Their enthusiasm and energy will be infectious, leading to an enthusiastic group of students. Richards (n.d.). claims also that teachers who keep the central goals of their TEFL instruction in mind can help students also keep the goals of their learning in mind. Goal-setting naturally encourages student motivation because the classroom lessons and activities are personally meaningful. As Thanasoulas (2002) puts it, the teacher can ?increase the group's goal-orientedness, that is, the extent to which the group tunes in to the pursuit of its official goal. This could be achieved by allowing students to define their own personal criteria for what should be a group goal.?