This article can give you some guidelines on how to increase the level of motivation in your students and the rationale behind it.
On many occasions, English teachers wonder why their students do not take courses seriously enough. In other words, they are not active and participatory enough, and in short, they do not develop their best to their classes. If you have the same students in your class, most probably, your students are not motivated enough.
Bear in mind that an English teacher’s knowledge should not be solely limited to a huge list of English vocabulary and grammar points. Equally (if not most) importantly, an English teacher is expected to develop some meta-linguistic knowledge in terms of class management, establishing rapport, psychology and teaching methodology.
It should be noticed that motivation does not come to your students all of a sudden. It is shaped in an ongoing process. That’s why more emphasis should be placed on the lengthy process of education, rather than the transitory period of final examinations. Some students become easily demotivated when they understand that all of their continuous efforts and performances are assessed solely on the basis of a one or two-hour final examination in which they may not be ready enough (e.g. psychologically). Consequently, an amalgamation of a process and product-oriented approach to education must be implemented.
What’s more, self-confidence, self-esteem and motivation are interrelated. When they are built, they must be maintained. Like a tower, which requires a huge amount of time to be constructed, but just a short period of time for demolition, motivation and self-confidence are so fragile and delicate in the language learners who are in the process of interlanguage (a developmental and quasi-developmental path of gaining proficiency starting from the first language towards being fluent and accurate in a second or foreign language).
If you are teaching the young, remember that they need to be encouraged again and again and immediately after they do something right in the class as their motivation level is just limited to an extrinsic or external version. Accordingly, anticipation of rewards can help young students to boost their motivation level.
However, when it comes to the adults, we have a rather different scenario. Adult students’ motivation and expectation level is more intrinsic and abstract by nature. It means that it is more complicated for the teacher to boost the level of their motivation, yet it’s not impossible.
First of all, adult students need to be informed of the benefits and advantages that are derived from learning English as an international language. Sometimes, they already know many of these advantages, yet they don’t consider them enough. As a teacher, you can ask your students to write essays on the importance of learning English as an international language in the 21st century. They might also be asked to deliver lectures on the same subject. In so doing, they exchange a lot of information and ideas that they already know with their peers, and their motivation level will go up dramatically.
In addition, English texts and sources play a major role in boosting the level of motivation in English learners. When the students realise that the materials are rich in helping them to use their English knowledge to learn something beyond English (i.e. whey they learn English to live better), they will become more motivated in learning English. As a result, it is really worth spending some time choosing right English materials which are genuinely in fit with the age, gender, social and cultural conditions of the students. Furthermore, authenticity of the materials is really important. It means that the materials should be on the basis of real-life situations.
Encouraging the students to assume some responsibilities in the class can raise the level of motivation in them. In this case, a negotiated curriculum or syllabus design can prove to be helpful. That is to say, in intermediate levels or above, the teacher can ask for the students’ feedback in terms of curriculum development, the sequence of the class, class objectives and expectations, and the modes of assessment. When the students notice that the class is personalised according to their interests and goals, they will become more enthusiastic and motivated.