What is the most important thing that makes a student a better english
learner than others? It may be accused of being a controversial issue to have a specific answer, yet I strongly believe that most english teacher
s would somehow agree that motivation plays an important part, if not the most, in the student’s progress. That leads to a crucial question, is motivation only born or can it be made? Due to the nature of this small-scaled report, the scope is mostly limited to my experience of english
teaching with some references to existing literatures. Thus the suggestions might only be applicable within vietnamese
During my teaching, most of the time I have seen a ubiquitous typical case in which the student had learnt english
since high school but when he came into my english
class, he could barely apply
(or even recall) what he had learnt at school. The reasons that he came to outside english
class might be various: as a recreational activity, his parents forced him to, he wanted to find a good job… Needless to say, for the most pushing needs i.e. born motivations (for example, he is going to study abroad in 3 months and he needs to get an IELTS bandscore of 6.5), the students can make extraordinary progress in an unbelievable short time. Unfortunately, in the not so ideal world, english teacher
s can’t get a whole class of fully-charged and highly-motivated students. In this case, we need a way to “make” motivation.
As (Covington, 2000) defined, theories of motivation in the classroom try to seek factors that affect how an individual choose, perform and persist a specific activities. Of course the first thing that comes to our mind is to call out the traditional motivations to learn in the students i.e. teacher
s desperately trying to remind the students how important english
would be for their future/ they need to concentrate on the lesson if they want to have good job/ good grade, forgetting that it is exactly the same thing that their parents have been doing without significant results.
One of the best lessons that I have learnt from teaching english
in different learners class is that no one prefers studying to relaxing. What it means is that everytime I come to the class, I forget that I am teaching the students english
; instead, I act as a friend who encourages them to apply
and enhance what they already know. I have also come into conclusion that vietnamese
learners are particularly competitive-minded, thus apply
ing games and racing activities vigorously stimulate their learning skills. To illustrate, I usually divide the class into 2 groups at the beginning and for every activity during that session the groups will work together to compete with the other group. In the end, the winning group will receive stickers that they can accumulate and trade for nice souvenirs later.
In additional to group games, I also integrate pair works during the study stage and activate stage since these can ensure that all students have enough exposure to the language application
during the opitimised time (Dörnyei & Kormos, 2000). Discussing in pairs or small groups also break the ice for shy students (often the case in vietnamese
class) and is a good chance for the teacher
to go around and take notes. At all times, I always keep in mind that motivation itself is enhanced from the satisfaction feeling of the students knowing that they have improved or achieved something. Thus, I always praise the students appropriately and if I need to give comments on their homework, I would always try to find the good points that they have really improved from the previous classes and then some constructive comments on how they could make it even better (Dörnyei Z. , 2000).
In summary, I have learnt that to organise effective language class, the teacher
needs to not only devise appropriate lesson materials but also incorporate learning activities so that the students stay motivated and interested. This requires careful observation of the characteristics of the learners, from their english
level to their cultures.
Covington, M. V. (2000). Goal theory, motivation, and school achievement: An integrative review. . Annual Review of Psychology (51), 171-200.
Dörnyei, Z. (2000). Motivation in action: Towards a process-oriented conceptualisation of student motivation. British Journal of Educational Psychology (70), 519-538.
Dörnyei, Z., & Kormos, J. (2000). The role of individual and social variables in oral task performance. Language Teaching Research , 4 (3), 275-300.
Guilloteaux, M.-J. (2007). Motivating language learners: A classroom-oriented investigation of teacher
's motivational practices and students' motivation. University of Nottingham . Nottingham: University of Nottingham .