|Dressing up/taking on roles|
is a great way to increase motivation
There are Two main types of motivation and an additional two that are specific for language learning.
Motivation for Language Learning
Instrumental meaning that the students are using the language to perform an outside task or duty. Perhaps they need to improve their language to complete a test for university or for their job or because they need have to travel somewhere. Integrative involves them learning the language because they have an affinity for the culture or people of that language and want to be more involved with it.
What does this mean in the classroom?
Every student unless they are forced to attend your language classes are learning the language for one of these reasons or a mixture of both. Find out WHY your students are taking the class and it will help you motivate them during the course. If you have a student that you know is only in the classroom because he needs to pass a test, focus on that. Make a passing comment that your specific activity is important because it will help him do better for x or y reason. Likewise, if you are a native speaker and know that your students are interested in your culture, get into the specifics. Bring up funny cultural things that they would not be aware of.
Two main types of Motivation
I think we all know what these mean. Intrinsic coming from the inside or internally and extrinsic coming from an outside force.
What does this mean in the classroom?
You need to be using both at all times. Students naturally come into your language classroom (most of the time at least) with some intrinsic motivation. I mean, they've usually paid for the course...so there has to be something there. The English language has a lot of built in benefits of learning that most other languages simply don't have. Let's take a look at some of the ways that learning English can benefit your students
1. The ability to travel
English is still the most common language in the world. If your students can speak it, they can essentially communicate and travel wherever they want. If they can't, it makes even leaving their borders a confusing and difficult task
2. The ability to make international friends
I have friends from all over the world. We usually communicate in English.
3. An enormous amount of media, entertainment, books, movies and music that are all in English
It doesn't mean that most of this stuff is good, but it's out there. Wherever you go around the world, you're exposed to English. Understanding it and being able to decipher it is important.
4. Worldwide job opportunities
If you can speak English well you simply have more opportunities in terms of employment
Bring these up every now and again to your students
Aside from the above, what YOU do as teacher is what really can motivate students to come to class and enjoy their time with you. Some general things to think about are...
1. Are you making your lessons as engaging as possible?
2. Is your pace brisk and void of lag periods?
3. Have you found interesting content for your students?
4. Do you vary your teaching technique, style, dress?
5. Are you aware of how your students feel about you and your lessons?
6. Does you classroom function as a community where students feel comfortable talking to each other?
7. Are you trying daily to add humor to your lessons?
Deals with external things that keep students motivated.
1. Token Economy works great
2. A friendly nod
5. Fun punishments if your students speak L1 or are late or something like that
6. Actually recording your students' progress so they can see their improvements
7. Using competition
8.Having clear goals and objectives each lesson that students can reach
9. Being firm with what you want and not giving into students' bad behavior
Motivation and how your students feel about you, your lessons and learning English is your responsibility, or at least you should look at it that way. Many teachers never really look at their own abilities and ask how they can be better or what they should do differently. Instead they blame the students. They complain that they don't show up or do homework or don't' participate. Blaming students isn't going to help your classroom.
I've had hundreds of classes and taught thousands of students. It is true that you will sometimes run into the truly regrettable student that simply doesn't care at all, every now and then, but most of your students can be shaped. Most students have the potential to be great language learners if given the right push. YOU just have to be willing to do what is necessary.
I had a teacher trainee on our Language House TEFL course in Prague years ago who simply couldn't engage a class and it was hurting his grade and student evaluations on the course. Technically, he was good. He did everything he was supposed to. He had sound lesson structure, good activities and adequate error correction. He just couldn't get students motivated and they simply didn't want to be in the classroom with him. His next lesson was on the emergence of Somali pirates and how it was effecting trade.
I told him that the most important thing he needed to do was break the pattern of his presentation and how he related to the class. I wanted him to do something to keep the students on their toes and get him out of his personal bubble that he had created between himself and his students. He needed to do something to face his insecurities in the classroom and his natural shyness that these students confused as being resentment.
So I told him to dress up as an old school pirate for his next lesson.
It would surprise the class completely and whatever image they had has him as being an uptight teacher would vanish immediately. It made sense to the lesson and it was something that he COULD do and do instantly. Changing someones personality in the classroom would take a lot of time, this would be immediate. All he would have to do, would be to put it on.
Well he didn't. He said he would, but when it came time to actually teach, he made an excuse and taught without it. The lesson was technically fine, but when it came to the students reviewing him as a teacher he got low scores. Why? Why wouldn't he just put it on? I knew that he respected my opinions and training techniques. So why not just wear it on and surprise the class?
The answer is that most people don't want to change. They don't want to go the extra step or make the extra effort. Don't settle for mediocrity. Use your classroom as a training ground to improve and experiment with new things.
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