TEFL Motivating young learners

Although, at the beginning of an English course, students can be very excited and enthusiastic when first confronted with their teacher, the person who will introduce them to a new, fascinating, foreign language, as time goes by the sense of novelty and curiosity that seemed so strong at the beginning, seem to gradually subside in the eyes of the pupils, especially those of young age, leaving the teacher with the sometimes difficult task of re-building their general interest in learning and not least, their level of motivation, which in nearly all warps of life, is the key to success. Motivation, in the field of learning, is a quality that can be more practically viewed by splitting it into three values:

?XPure love of and interest in learning.

The more fun and exciting the activity used to teach students is, the more the students seem to find the natural need and confidence to gain further knowledge, strive harder and generally put more effort into their work. In regards to young students, who in many cases, tend to be, literally, thrown into English lessons by their ambitious parents against the children??s will (obviously, this is not true in all scenarios), the teacher holds a very important responsibility: that of creating the most pleasant and comforting environment, allowing the youngsters to learn and fully appreciate the joys of learning a new language.

?XReaching goals.

At the moment that students hit certain targets or achieve a goal in learning the English language, the pure satisfaction and pride that these events create, tend to become the fuel that burns inside of them throughout their development as learners and that gives them the urge to succeed in gaining more and more accomplishment. In order for this to have a recurring effect, the teacher needs to set his or her students realistic goals, according to their individual level of ability. To simplify this process and make it more straightforward to accomplish, the teacher can split the pre- goal phase into smaller targets for the students to hit via engaging and fun activities (this is a very convenient way of dealing with younger students). All achievements must be met with the right amount of praise, appreciation and recognition for their efforts, at all times. A nice way of making this more visible and official is to display the work of young students in the classroom or other spaces in the school. Also, notifying the students parents of their children??s newly acquired skills can be a motivational booster.

?XRewards and incentives.

Children seem to be very effectively motivated to learn in general, when they see rewards such as sweets, toys and other prizes as a light at the end of a tunnel. Many teachers march on this aspect, as they see it as an easy way to get their pupils to finish their work and gain new skills, however, children??s natural cravings for these kinds of premiums can push their genuine pleasure of learning into the background. The teacher must, first of all never make a promise that he/she cannot keep, judge carefully what he or she considers a reasonable reward for a certain achievement and most important of all, whether the reward should be of materialistic significance or moral. The simple yet rich pleasure of gradually learning a language, itself, is a reward of infinite value, for both young and old, and it only costs the care, stimulation and fun that the teacher puts into every lesson.

My source for this article was an extract of Mari Nakamura??s ??Motivate Students, Accelerate Learning??.

Author: Edward Zanazzo

Date of post: 2007-04-10