One of the most difficult problems faced by teacher
s in any classroom is motivating students. This can be especially true in the esl
classroom, where students often not only lack the motivation to study a foreign language, but they may also be afraid to speak or use the language because they are afraid of losing face upon making mistakes. While there are some students who are intrinsically motivated to do well, extrinsic motivation is often needed. This latter type of stimulus can only be provided by the teacher
One way to encourage students to participate is by use of rewards (Harris). Some students simply lack the internal drive to put forth the effort required to learn a foreign language. In these cases, the teacher
must provide an incentive for the students to engage in class and participate, so that they may learn. Students at any age level will continue to repeat actions that help them earn rewards (Harris). Obviously, the rewards used differ depending on age level. Young students are satisfied with stickers, stars drawn on the board, or even high-fives. Older students may require more meaningful rewards, such as extra points towards a final grade, classroom supplies, or other material items.
Another way to motivate students is to create a warm environment. Students must first feel comfortable before wanting to participate, and this is true of any age level. teacher
s can get students to speak and use the foreign language by making students aware that their classroom is a safe place where the students and teacher
can work together on the path to learning the new language. When students feel that they have no enemies in the classroom and that everyone is supportive and will give them praise for trying, students are much more likely to actively practice the new language and ultimately become more proficient. teacher
s should also show concern for the students' interests and needs to develop a strong rapport and make students feel comfortable (Harris).
Games are also critical in student motivation. teacher
s can lay out material for students and present it in a very clear and logical way, but if the students lack drive to put the new material to use, they won't learn how to use the new language effectively. The use of games is almost always successful in motivating students to participate and use their language. Students love to compete, and so what better way is there to encourage student motivation than to design games that practice the new material and ‘force' students to use the newly-learned language to achieve victory?
Another way to encourage student participation is to use fun activities in pair work and group work situations. From a peer pressure standpoint, having learners engage in activities with only one other student or a few other classmates can be very inviting. Whereas students can feel very self-conscious and be unwilling to speak in large groups, they are generally much more open to participation in the more comfortable setting of a small group. Regarding activity content, there is a plethora of activities that teacher
s can use. Information-gap, role-plays, surveys, task-based learning, and many other activities can stimulate students. Information-gap activities are great because they force students to ask their partners for information, role-plays are fun for students because they get to act as other characters, surveys are fun as students can compare answers and learn about each other, and task-based learning allows students to use english
to work together towards a common goal.
There are a number of ways to motivate students in the esl
classroom, and by effectively using them, teacher
s can create an atmosphere of effective learning. All students are capable of learning a new language, though some of them lack motivation. It is up to the teacher
to stimulate participation so that students will ultimately become fluent in the english
Harris, Robert. “Some Ideas for Motivating Students.”
VirtualSalt. 14 October 2010. Web. 4 Oct. 2011.