Teach English in Madian Zhen - Huai'an Shi

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“A motivated student has a greater chance of success than a student without motivation.” (TEFL-120 Hour Course Unit 1, p.9) The key to effectively motivating students in the classroom lies in understanding human motivation as a concept. According to Brophy (1983), motivation may be internally and/or externally formed. It may be assumed then that student motivation in the classroom is comprised of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. This essay will focus on intrinsic student motivation and its contributing factors, as well as extrinsic student motivation as a result of teacher behaviour, coursework and learning environment. Lumsden (1994) maintains that, in order to maximise student motivation in the classroom, a teacher should cultivate existing intrinsic motivation in addition to acting as an extrinsic motivator. Intrinsic student motivation Student motivation is primarily intrinsic, in that a student enters the classroom with a pre-existing level of motivation. This is based on a multitude of reasons inclusive of their age, their reason for attending the class and their existing level of English proficiency. For example, an adult beginner student who has made the decision to study English would have higher levels of intrinsic motivation than an adolescent student who is obligated to complete an English course. Intrinsic motivation has been linked to self-determination theory, which is concerned with a student’s motivation as it relates to their “interest in learning, valuing of education, and confidence in their own capacities and attributes” (Deci et al., 1991). While some students may begin their studies with a high level of intrinsic motivation, others will develop their intrinsic motivation through self-determination. Additionally, a student's emotions and beliefs play a role in their intrinsic motivation and according to Seifert (2004) may “elicit different patterns of behaviour such as the pursuit of mastery, failure avoidance, learned helplessness and passive aggression”. However, it is worth noting that, each student will have their own degree of intrinsic motivation and it is thus important for a teacher to approach the motivation of students in a multifaceted and adaptable way. The teacher as an extrinsic motivator One of the traits that define a good teacher is the ability to motivate learners. It is also beneficial to be able to correct a student without affecting their motivation. Students will begin with varying degrees of intrinsic motivation and the role of a teacher is to encourage the existing intrinsic motivation and build upon it through extrinsic motivation. There are certain actions that a teacher should avoid in order to maximise student motivation. A teacher should not overcorrect students and should not constantly have the coursebook open. Students will be motivated by a teacher who is sensitive to their emotions and praises and encourages their achievements. In order to motivate students, the teacher should respond to students individually and ensure that each student feels relaxed and supported. While specific actions can be taken to encourage and possibly increase student motivation, the most effective approach is not through singular actions but rather a holistic motivational teaching technique. It may be assumed that student motivation is only controllable by the teacher to an extent, however, an effective teacher will attempt to maximise motivation. Course content as an extrinsic motivator The contents of the work being taught may serve to motivate students provided it is engaging, reasonably challenging and relevant to the course. If the course content provided is at the appropriate level, its completion may instill confidence in the student and ultimately increase their motivation. If a student can see a tangible improvement in their ability throughout their coursework, it will further motivate them through a feeling of accomplishment. However, if the set work is too difficult and students are unable to complete it or understand it, it may serve to demotivate and disillusion students. Additionally, varied and compelling lessons will serve to build student motivation. Interesting topics chosen by the teacher could serve to motivate students through engagement and cultivated enthusiasm. It is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that the work given to the students is well balanced between constructively challenging material and material that is appropriate to the student’s proficiency level. Learning environment as an extrinsic motivator The learning environment plays a large role in the motivation of students. A poorly designed classroom space may serve to demotivate students through discomfort or inability to focus on the lesson. Ideally, the learning environment should be open, comfortable and allow each student to adequately see and hear the teacher. Seifert (2004) writes that learning environments that create feelings of self-determination and competence amongst students often result in more adaptive and constructive learning in the classroom. It is clear that an open and encouraging classroom space is ideal for motivating students. Consistency as an extrinsic motivator Motivation in the classroom is a continuous process and should be actively pursued by the teacher. Intrinsic student motivation will vary from day-to-day as a result of fluctuating emotion and non-academic events. As such it is difficult for a teacher to control any aspect of a student’s intrinsic motivation. However, a teacher may actively seek to build extrinsic motivation through performing specific actions, the coursework they set and the classroom environment they create. These aspects should be regularly revised and improved, as the key to maximising student motivation is consistent motivation by the teacher. Conclusion In conclusion, it is evident that motivation in the classroom is comprised of both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. While the student’s intrinsic motivation is self-determined, the teacher is able to extrinsically motivate students. This is most effectively accomplished through a multifaceted approach focusing on teacher behaviour, course content, learning environment and consistency. Each of the aforementioned factors will have varying influences on students in the classroom space, therefore the teacher should be aware of how to most effectively motivate individual students in the classroom. Word Count: 987 Reference List Ames, C. (1992). Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84(3), pp.261-271. Brophy, J. (1983). Conceptualizing student motivation. Educational Psychologist, [online] 18(3), pp.200-215. Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2020]. Burguillo, J. (2010). Using game theory and Competition-based Learning to stimulate student motivation and performance. Computers & Education, 55(2), pp.566-575. Deci, E., Vallerand, R., Pelletier, L. and Ryan, R. (1991). Motivation and Education: The Self-Determination Perspective. Educational Psychologist, [online] 26(3-4), pp.325-346. Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2020]. Lumsden, L. (1994). Student Motivation. Research Roundup, 10(3), pp.2-5. Maehr, M. and Midgley, C. (1991). Enhancing Student Motivation: A Schoolwide Approach. Educational Psychologist, [online] 26(3-4), pp.399-427. Available at: [Accessed 5 Feb. 2020]. Seifert, T. (2004). Understanding student motivation. Educational Research, [online] 46(2), pp.137-149. Available at: [Accessed 4 Feb. 2020].