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How to Motivate English Learners
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FROM THE DESK OF THE TEFL TRAINER
When students register for English classes, they are usually excited during their first classes. What can the teacher do to keep the level of motivation high and want them to learn English?
Students look up to the teacher for guidance and leadership. The teacher is the key in the classroom. Here are some guidelines to follow to keep students motivated.
1. Set a personal example with your own behavior.
Classroom application: Come to class prepared and look as if you enjoy your class. Enthusiasm is contagious.
2. Create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in your classroom.
Classroom application: Besides scheduling fun activities for your students, encourage risk taking in your class by emphasizing the importance of trying rather than making mistakes. Check to verify that everyone is following you and don’t hesitate to redo an activity if they didn’t get it right the first time.
3. Present the tasks properly.
Classroom application: Let students know why they are doing it and explain the task in clear, simple language, using the same commands consistently. Don’t forget to check their understanding of what they have to do.
4. Develop a good relationship with your learners.
Classroom application: Learn their names. Give everyone feedback on their performance and help them get ahead. Laugh with them not at them. Listen to their opinions and develop a genuine joy about the job well done.
5. Increase the learner’s linguistic self-confidence.
Classroom application: Give ample verbal and nonverbal assurances to students. It helps a student to hear a teacher affirm a belief in the student’s ability. Also, carefully sequence your activities in the classroom, so the students have to be successful at the end of class. It will help your students establish a sense of accomplishment throughout the process.
6. Make your language class interesting.
Wrong: Today we learn the Passive Voice. That sounds horrible and boring right from the start. And what is that the Passive Voice? I’ve never heard of that before anyway. It all doesn’t make sense to me.
Right way: Today we want to talk about natural disasters. Who can tell me what natural disasters are? Where in the world do natural disasters most often occur? Besides learning about volcanoes in the world, my students also familiarize themselves about the world’s largest volcano eruption in form of video clips and survivor reports. The passive voice comes in when we talk about the devastating results of the volcano eruption in Indonesia. At the end of class, my students talk about a natural disaster in their country and in what way people suffered. Compared to the initial class in which we learn the “Passive Voice,” this makes so much more interesting, and you capture their attention from the beginning to the end of class.
7. Promote learner autonomy.
Classroom application: Learners need to develop autonomy, not dependence. Be careful not to let learners become dependent on your daily praise and other feedback. Rather, administer praise selectively and judiciously, helping students to recognize their own self-satisfaction in having done something well. Help learners to take charge of their own learning by setting goals and utilizing learning strategies.
8. Personalize the learning process.
Classroom application: When you teach language, center it around the life of your students, their experiences and interests. Everybody likes to talk about him- or herself.
FOR YOUR FURTHER READING
Dőrnyei, Zoltàn and Csizér, Kata. 1998. “Ten Commandments for Motivating Language Learners.” Language Teaching Research 2: 203-29.
Brown, H. Douglas. 2001. “Teaching by Principles; An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy” Pearson Education