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Motivation in the Classroom Everyone has a basic need to
Everyone has a basic need to communicate. This necessitates a common language so that communication can succeed. We are all born with the roots of a language and usually achieve fluency in that language in a few short years. Coming into a new language later in life is a little more difficult, but is becoming more important to everyone as we enjoy a more global community. For students learning a new language, one of the most difficult problems to overcome is a lack of motivation to learn. The effective ESL teacher has the tools to build a framework for language acquisition and can make them available to each student who desires fluency, and can motivate students to learn and help them overcome fear and frustration by offering praise for any success and incentive to continue.
The best way to achieve this is by creating a non-threatening, exciting atmosphere and offering opportunities for success to each student. From the first, the teacher must get to know the students well enough to be able to gauge how certain motivational efforts will be perceived. When the teacher is aware of the different cultural backgrounds of the students, a general guideline for activities can be mapped out. A game or activity should be appropriate for the entire class, not too difficult or too easy, and must grab the students' attention, and be, of course, an activity that doesn't cause discomfort for students when they participate. The dynamic of a classroom has a direct relation to the sincerity and genuine motivation of the teacher to lead the students to conversational proficiency.
Posting maps, alphabets, pictures and art on the walls - objects that have some meaning for the students - can create a stimulating learning space. Whenever games are introduced, instructions should be clear and easily understood by all. When a teacher has a desire to see her students succeed, that energy will be transferred to the students, and the means to success will be clearly presented. Playing games is an effective way to encourage the class to incorporate the lesson ideas into use. It is much more palatable learning how to use the future conditional tense when it is part of a role-play exercise, for instance. This is an important time also to introduce real materials into the classroom so that the students can appreciate why they need to learn grammar and vocabulary words and where they'll use them in the real world.
An effective ESL teacher should provide motivation for a student; however, noted English professor Jeremy Harmer suggests that, 'Teachers are not, however, ultimately responsible for their students' motivation. They can only encourage by word and deed. Real motivation comes from within each individual' To keep the student connected to his own motivation the lessons must focus on the language basics: reading, writing, speaking and listening, with emphasis on repetition and exposure. Use of textbooks, real materials, music and games can keep the lessons lively and prevent boredom and predictability. Care must be taken to regularly reinforce the importance of what the students are learning and how it is relevant to their goal. Everyone needs to feel that what they are doing has purpose and the teacher can help make sure the students can see their progress and feel proud of their efforts.
Communicating is essential to everyone. Knowledge of a common language is something we all need, as stated by Anne Curzan and Michael Adams, professors of English and Linguistics: 'Sometimes language serves a concrete purpose; sometimes it defines us as social beings; sometimes it elevates the spirit or provokes thought; sometimes, it's just plain fun. Most of the time it's a combination of purposes, sociability, learning and play. Can you imagine that anything deserves our careful consideration more than language'' It is this inspiration that makes me believe that to keep a student focused on learning English the teacher must be able to communicate the benefit of language acquisition and be prepared to help each student achieve it, motivating them to attain true language independence.