Motivating Students Students? motivation is central to
Students' motivation is central to their learning; it can drive them through or diminish their confidence, so needs to be addressed with as much importance as the actual subject matter.
Motivation depends on a number of factors including age. Older students often have chosen to learn English, whether it be for future career prospects, business purposes, travel for study or life in an English speaking country or simply out of interest. As it is a decision they have made of their own accord, older students are often naturally highly self motivated. Children and younger learners often require more encouragement as it has not necessarily been their decision to learn the language, although the thought of studying in an English speaking country and school success are valid motivation for them. Usually younger students are learning English due to their parents or a school syllabus so the motivation isn't directly theirs. Children tend to retain the language quicker and easier though, so this is useful as a means of encouragement to turn into motivation.
Motivation however is important for all students. If a teacher is enthusiastic and appears motivated then it also encourages the students. Rewards are good for increasing students' motivation but needs to be monitored closely and consideration must be taken as to the ability of the students individually. Their own achievements may be varied, due to their different abilities, but they still must be recognised. Rewards can include vocal praise, written acknowledgment, merits and material gifts. If the students are given something that they take pride in then they can take more pride in their own work.
To motivate students, teachers need to make their lessons enjoyable. This can be achieved through variation and fun activities. It is also important to make sure the activities are relevant to the students interests as a group, and individually. The teacher must be sensitive to the needs and interests of their students and plan lessons accordingly. It has been suggested that children stay more focussed on a task when it is centred around them.
Sometimes a lack of confidence can drag a student's motivation down and effect their interaction with their peers, and the subject. Teachers need to build confidence through recognition and praise and make them understand that they shouldn't fear making a mistake.
Sometimes peer intimidation can affect a learners motivation, this can be overcome by seating arrangements in the classroom, or pairs and group work. Orderly rows can ensure control but sometimes the students dynamic can be improved up by a horseshoe seating arrangement.
Confidence is closely tied to motivation so students who are unsure of themselves often flourish through being paired with a stronger member of the group. When they realise their abilities their confidence grows along with their motivation.
As you can see, motivation can be effected by a lot of factors. So long as a teacher can give the time and sympathy to get to know their pupils, and their individual needs and interests, they can see what it is the student requires and motivate them.
Source: TEFL Online Teaching Modules
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