During my experience teaching english
in Korea, I have come to realize a drastic difference between the motivations of students in the early years of elementary school compared to the later years of elementary school. While I realize that approaching adolescence affects kids
in all aspects of their lives, not just esl
, I can’t help but try and understand why sixth graders are so incredibly uninterested while second graders will fall to tears if they don’t get a chance to practice their english
. I have noticed this semester through teaching at a Korean elementary school, that sixth graders face an incredible amount of pressure as they prepare for middle school. Second graders, on the other hand are just beginning to take their first exams. Is this pressure the reason that sixth graders have lost their drive when it comes to learning english
I have noticed considerable differences between the motivations of second graders compared to sixth graders. Second graders seem incredibly intimidated by the idea of breaking a rule and suffering minor consequences, while sixth graders are un phased by most forms of even drastic punishment set up by english teacher
s. Hence, second graders are constantly improving, putting their knowledge to use, and competing to be the best while sixth graders show little improvements and don’t seem to retain much information at all.
In the beginning of class when I teach second grade, most students are engaged right away. They love to share stories, talk about the weather, and utilize the vocabulary they learned in prior classes. As my co-teacher
and I move on to the study phase of the lesson, second grade students remain focused as we read the textbook and seem to enjoy answering comprehension questions
overall. If some or many students begin to lose focus, we are able to bring them back by rewarding those students who are staying motivated with simple gestures like a star next to their name. If this tactic doesn’t work, we are almost always able to regain their attention with our post activity. Most all of the second graders love being a part of anything competitive, anything that allows them to be hands on, or anything that puts them in the spot light.
On the contrary, I begin teaching my sixth grade students by asking them repeatedly to get out their notebooks and open their books to the correct page. My co-teacher
and I almost always spend an unfortunate amount of time trying to get all of our students prepared for class. I always attempt to engage the sixth graders at the beginning of class with a discussion topic or a review PPT. However, more often than not, no one wants to participate and those that do cannot be heard because their classmates begin having side conversations. As we read and ask comprehension questions
from our textbooks, the students are usually less chatty but only a select few are really attempting to understand the material or answer very basic questions
. Other students are zoned out, distracted, and seem to be completely lost and uninterested when called on. If we ever have time for a post activity, the same students who are engaged in the beginning and participate in the study phase will participate in the activity, but others will not.
and I have tried every angle of motivating and disciplining our sixth graders into improving their english
skills. It is a continued challenge to try and understand what we can do to help them learn. We can only understand that the sixth grade students have come to think of english
class as a time to relax from the pressures of their other, more demanding subjects. This factor, in combination with the lethargy that comes along with early middle school is believed to be the cause of this lack of motivation.