Teach English in Gucheng Zhen - Huhehaote Shi — Hohhot

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One should note that the simple act of praise is not just about motivating people, it serves many more purposes. In the field of positive psychology things such as appreciation and praise at work or study place are considered highly important. So, if praise is proven to be an important motivating factor, why don’t some teachers use praise enough? I am sure that the answer to this complex problem depends on many things, however the most obvious reason is the lack of training in peer-coaching since teachers that fail to praise students can be generally observed practicing conservative or old school methodologies. However it is now proven that praising people for their efforts as well as for their achievements can not only facilitate building a better rapport with students, but contribute positively to academic learning and social behaviour. (Back to Basics: Rules, Praise, Ignoring, and Reprimands, Robert A. Gable, Peggy H. Hester, Marcia L. Rock, Kimberly G. Hughes). Research also suggests that there is a ratio of positive and negative experiences that guides our minds into understanding how well we are performing on a given task. This ratio is 3:1, meaning that for every negative experience we need just about three positive ones. Especially in teaching new skills to students, it is hugely important for a teacher to be mindful of that statistic. It applies to a very broad range or things : from sport psychology to learning new languages, our perception of how well we are doing directly impacts our confidence, hence the mood, and therefore the efficacy of learning process. In sports psychology it is believed when practicing new skills, if the student finishes practice on a ‘negative’ repetition e.g if a student falls trying to land a backflip, then the brain will very quickly start to develop negative associations between making attempts to perform a particular exercise, therefore this student will become a lot more reluctant to practice this exercise in the next session since student’s confidence has been compromised by the last negative experience. Now, how are those principles true for language acquisition? Let us assume a situation when students took a test and received their results. Before moving onto the next stage of the lesson, it is important to address the students who did well in the test by praising their results. And the younger the student, the more immediate the praise should be. At the high school level, most students can accept delayed praise. For example “I can see a lot of progress compared to your work yesterday/week before” or in case when student has succeeded effortlessly comments like “It is great you have done that correctly, let’s raise the bar for you now.” The point I am trying to get across is that the teacher should not neglect or ignore students’ results regardless whether they are good or bad, a teacher should praise good results and address the progress made by those students who have not succeed in the test or encourage them to try again. This way teachers can prevent deterioration of students’ motivation to learn. Another important factor is the type of praise. Carol Dweck suggests that in child’s psychology the type of praise given matters. She has introduced terms like ‘fixed mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’. A fixed mindset assumes that the output is the result of natural talent, therefore comments like “you are smart!” Would contribute to further development of fixed mindset. In turn, a growth mindset assumed that the performance is the result of effort. Therefore, praising a child on the effort and work by saying “I see that you worked very hard for it!” is proven to contribute to the development of a growth mindset, which is overall more beneficial when it comes to skills acquirement. A study by Li Zhao, Gail Heyman, Lulu Chen, and Kang Lee suggests another reason why the type of praise given is important. Praising child’s ability creates the urge to maintain the image that the child is being praised for, therefore options like cheating can appear attractive to the child since these are considerably easier than putting the work in. To summarise, the study suggests to focus praise on effort or outcomes. (Zhao, L., Heyman, G.D., Chen, L., & Lee, K. (2017). Praising young children for being smart promotes cheating. Psychological Science, 28(12), 1868-1870.) In conclusion, l would like to discuss the effective means of praising students. It includes noticing the effort made by the student, and addressing to the student with sincerity and enthusiasm. Addressing the behaviour that needs to be reinforced, keeping records of efforts so that a teacher is able to comment on the progress that the student is making.