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Teach English in Dahe Zhen - Enshi Tujiazu Miaozu Zizhizhou
I find student motivation to be one of the most interesting elements of success in second language acquisition. I am particularly intrigued by the idea of how our students’ “possible selves” influence their motivation to study English, and the various factors and contexts that can affect both their level of motivation and their level of success. In my own experience, I have always been most motivated to study or work hard when I have a distinct future self in mind to which I am aspiring. In this way, I can empathize with my students who have made the decision to study English as a way to make available a range of educational and vocational opportunities both domestically and abroad. In Vietnam, the typical wages are very low and are often not enough to support a family. On the other hand, international firms – both domestically and abroad – offer much higher salaries. Of course, English proficiency is a basic requirement for most of the positions with an international firm, especially abroad. Cultural and social factors also influence the aspirations of Vietnamese people who wish to study English. Learning English is seen as one of the best ways to position oneself to be able to better provide for the family, and many Vietnamese will readily sacrifice large amounts of money, time and comfort to be able to study English and move abroad. One of my primary career goals is to help encourage and enable Vietnamese students to utilize the English language proficiently to become global citizens as well as contribute to the development of their country, whether by studying abroad and acquiring valuable insight and experience or by collaborating internationally on auspicious research or professional initiatives. It is my habit to develop good rapport and understanding between myself and the students in my classes but also amongst the students in each of my classes. Most usually, my students and I end up looking forward to our weekly or twice weekly lessons, and the classroom is a comfortable space where each student feels able to share a great deal about himself or herself. With my adult classes, we often participate in social activities outside the classroom together. We develop a genuine compassion for each other’s goals and an understanding for how learning English relates to these goals. I think this helps me to better tailor the lessons to my students’ needs and visions of their “most promising” possible selves. Norton & Kanno suggest that “imagined communities can ‘expand our range of possible selves’ and open up possibilities for language learners that may not exist otherwise”. This makes me think about my teaching practices in an intriguing way. Perhaps by creating such a comfortable social environment amongst my classes, I have created an imagined community amongst these English learners: a community that serves to reinforce each student’s own motivation. In any event, I plan to continue studying possible selves and the relation to English learner motivation, as I feel it is very much related to – and can help augment – my instruction with Vietnamese students as I help them try to realize their dreams of studying or working abroad or domestically for an international company. References Kanno, Y. & Norton, B. (in press). Imagined communities and educational possibilities: Introduction. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education.