Teach English in Anfeng Zhen - Lianyungang Shi

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‘In second language learning, as in every other field of human learning, motivation is the critical force which determines whether a learner embarks on a task at all, how much energy he devotes to it, and how long he perseveres it’ (Littlewood, 1987, p53). One of the teacher’s main aims in the classroom should be to help students sustain their motivation, promoting a positive, growth mind-set and safe learning environment, leading to intrinsically motivated students. Learners of English entering the classroom will have differing motivations for doing so depending on factors such as age, culture and life experience to name a few, and it is the teacher’s job to take on several roles to engage and encourage motivation to continue from within the student (ITTT, 2011). First and foremost, when it comes to establishing a safe learning environment which will motivate, it is key to establish rapport with students, ensuring that each is familiar with both one another and the teacher themselves to allow for a relaxed yet enthusiastic learning environment (ITTT, 2019). This can later lead to strong communication between one another aiding in language development and support, as well as personalised learning and student input to occur in future lessons. Throughout lessons, a teacher can take on several roles, such as manager, organiser, prompter and facilitator (ITTT, 2011), to ensure that the best strategies for learning are provided. In addition to this, the way in which a teacher plans a lesson is crucial to ensure that there are activities that provide both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation in line with the learning objectives as ‘student motivation is influenced by both internal and external factors that can start, sustain, intensify, or discourage behaviour’ (Reeve, 1996). Extrinsic motivation is ‘the motivation that students bring into the classroom from outside’, whereas intrinsic motivation is ‘the type of motivation that is generated by what happens inside the classroom’ (Harmer, 2007). The teacher’s role is vital here in achieving the latter: ‘Many students’ attitudes and beliefs are malleable…teachers and parents can positively influence attitudes and beliefs, particularly when those beliefs hinder achievement’ (Hattie, Anderman, 2019). Whilst sustaining motivation can sometimes be problematic due to extrinsic motivation, through the Engage, Study, Activate (ESA) model (Harmer, 2007), teachers can provide opportunities for learning which are not only structured and organised, but also interesting and engaging, leading to motivated students. When planning for learning, all lessons should start with the Engage Phase, to ‘arouse the students’ interest and engage their emotions’ (Ellis, Shintani, 2014). Engagement can be provided through activities such as those that are centred around games, images, music and stories that are linked to the language which is introduced later in the lesson (although not always essential) (ITTT, 2011). Harmer states ‘unless students are emotionally engaged with what is going on, their learning will be less effective’ (Harmer, 2007), thus by beginning the lesson with the Engage Phase, it encourages students to go into the following phases of the lesson intrinsically motivated, as mistakes are not highlighted here: instead it is an opportunity to involve learners, building that much-needed rapport. The Study Phase of the lesson focuses on the language point being covered and its construction. Here, it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure engagement is held as elicitation needs to take place, as well as the presentation of the language point and sometimes drilling exercises. This will then in turn influence the students’ engagement with the following activity which will see them working on a task (independently or in small groups) to check and reinforce their understanding. It will also impact the Activate Phase of the lesson which activates the understanding and language competence. During the Study Phase exercises and activities should be considered in line with students’ learning styles and language levels – tactile, kinaesthetic activities such as word scrambles and matching pairs, verbal activities such as tongue twisters, or activities presented as games such as word searches and hangman could be used to engage. Gap fill tasks and analysis tasks are also key. To generate student interest and keep motivation high, tasks should vary from lesson to lesson regarding topics covered in the Study Phase to avoid lessons becoming predictable. The Activate Phase provides students with the opportunity to use ‘language as freely and communicatively as possible’, with a focus being on fluency rather than accuracy, using ‘any/all of the language they know’ (ITTT, 2011). Here, teachers can discover learning needs and gaps allowing for intervention and future planning to be considered accordingly. Thus, student motivation needs to be high to encourage participation in activities such as role play, communication games and individual tasks such as story writing, so that the display of knowledge and understanding is accurately represented to the teacher from the student. Of course, extrinsic motivation regarding praise and recognition is key in any learning environment and can be provided in each phase of the ESA structure. As no real teaching takes place during the Engage Phase, teachers can ensure that each student is involved in the activity, addressing them by name and ensuring that verbal praise is given for even simply participating. In the further stage of the Study Phase, extrinsic motivation can be achieved during feedback, whether this verbally delivered or provided through written feedback. Depending on the student and their motivation, extrinsic motivation can also be linked back to the reminder of potential upcoming external exams, the need for travel or job opportunities and rewards, from the teacher. This serves as an important reminder as to the need to build a rapport with students, getting to know and understanding their needs, wants and motivations in the first lesson, as well as each week during the Engage Phase, to provide opportunities for both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Works cited: Ellis, R. and Shintani, N. (2014). Exploring Language Pedagogy through Second Language Acquisition Research. London: Routledge. Harmer, J. (2007). How to teach English. Harlow: Pearson Longman. Hattie, J. and Anderman, E. (2019). Visible Learning Guide to Student Achievement. London: Routledge. ITTT (2011). Unit 1: Teachers and Learners. International TEFL and TESOL Training ITTT (2011). Unit 3: Theories, Methods and Techniques. International TEFL and TESOL Training Littlewood, W. (1987). Foreign and Second Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Reeve, J, (1996). Motivating Others: Nurturing Inner Motivational Resources. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Riva, F. (2019). The Ways a TEFL Instructor Influences Their Learners. [online] Teflcourse.net. Available at: https://www.teflcourse.net/blog/the-ways-a-tefl-instructor-influences-their-learners-ittt-tefl-blog