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As A Language Teacher, How Do You Motivate Your Students?


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A lot of the children I would teach would respond well to images. If I showed them flash cards with picture or we would use a CD Rom with videos and images then they would remember a whole lot more. I guess they were visual learners.

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  • 5 weeks later...

A lot of the children I would teach would respond well to images. If I showed them flash cards with picture or we would use a CD Rom with videos and images then they would remember a whole lot more. I guess they were visual learners.

Our better English teacher did that, as well as involve us in board games and other interactive activities during class. This may be the only English teacher who really got me to study English well. I think you need to find what the group you are teaching can be interested in (more games if they are smaller and so on).

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To encourage teaching, all you need to do is appeal to their human nature. Tell them what's in it for them. What many teachers fail to remember is what you want in life is not necessarily what your students want. Find out what one individual student wants out of their new language skills and encourage that idea until they become self motivated. Do not tell students what you think they should do with their learning skills, ask them what they want first.

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I'm not a teacher, but I'm a student, so I can help I think. What's working best for me is real life examples, something that connects to me on a personal level. My teacher rarely does something like that, but when she does, I really do remember the lesson from the first time, and can talk about it whenever needed.

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The TOESL course I took focused on making lesson plans that keep your students interested. To do that, they recommended short tasks that focused on the lesson and then a game or two that reiterated what was being taught. Your lesson plans had to keep everything as interactive as possible.

It definitely worked when I started teaching actual students. For example, when the day's topic was numbers, I had my students play Bingo. It was fun for the students and helped them learn their numbers. Soon enough, I realized that Bingo never got boring, for them, and started to incorporate Bingo into other lesson plans; especially, ones that focused on vocabulary.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I'm a student, so to give you my certain perspective about this, I would definitely enjoy learning English on a field trip. Try taking your students out of the classroom so their excitement in learning would be stronger than usual.

Another way to motivate your students is to create a game for your students to play.

Good luck!

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It might sound horrible, but when I taught ESL in Seoul the big motivators for the students were: candy, free time and special prizes from the treasure box. I found that giving the children some kind of reward for all their hard work taught them that if they're good, they will be rewarded.

I also found that if the students respect you and like you, the candy and other little prizes are only seen as a bonus. The students will work hard and behave if they like you and they think that you deserve their attention. Having fun classes and being an animated speaker definitely helps with this. Show that you care for the students, and they will care for you.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My older students are very motivated by challenging (but not too difficult) authentic English texts.  The majority of their reading practice comes from inauthentic exam practice tasks, so giving them a quick article or story makes them feel like they are using English like an Englishspeaker and not just for an exam task.  I still haven't gotten great at motivating younger students--my four and five year olds are sometimes a bit wild.  If anyone has any tips I'd really appreciate it!!  :smile:

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If I were a student, I'd want to do something fun when learning. Back then, everyone at class loved quizzes and  riddles. Our teacher will have quizzes where the group that won gets free of homework. I think what's important is to find things that the students can relate to and love to talk about.

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  • 3 months later...

I am not a foreign language teacher , but I do teach. Find out what appeals to you student and take advantage of it, find ways to work your student's interest in to lesson plans.  Find some simple games that you student can play to prevent boring memorization by repetition . Don't forget to offer up a few simple prizes like candy and stickers. Complement them when they are successful.

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I used to be a Russian teacher and I noticed two main factors that made the learning (and teaching ) much faster and much more efficient.

First thing is, when you have an exam and you know there is a deadline, you just learn. Learning for an exam might sound stressful, but it actually makes it less abstract. Try to encourage your students to sign up for an exam FCE or any other.

Next thing is, we all like listening to interesting things, and manuals and regular books are not always like that. I was using Russian newspapers, Russian short (really short like 2 min) videos and songs. Of course you need to know, what your students are interested in, but I guess that is not an excuse. anyway I am so much into experimental teaching, because it has worked :)

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For me, my students must have their own motivation, other than that why would they learn the language, i support them and help them to get the motivation that they need cause they might feel down someday and i just show where they're now.

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  • 1 year later...

I know this is for teachers, but I want to share something as a student.  I have always been interested in foreign languages, so I never needed much motivation.  However, I had many classmates speak to me about a teacher we once had.  They told me he made learning French enjoyable when they thought they would hate it.  They only took it because they were forced: their parents wanted them to take it, no room in Spanish, language requirement, etc.  But they left his class with such a love of the language that they would sometimes use it outside of class or ask me to help tutor them.  He used to make games for the class, like he would say the name of a character or actor or some very specific object and we would have to flip through our French books and find it/him/her.  The we would have to say the page number.  He wanted us to say it in French.  If we didn't know how, we could say it in English and he would tell us in French and have us repeat it until we said it properly.  He had one big rule that resulted in big trouble if broken:  DO NOT MAKE FUN OF ANYONE.  You could gently tease or make jokes to put the person at ease, but you couldn't be mean.  That resulted in a peaceful class where everyone got along and helped each other.  He would also make little ungraded quizzes to see where everyone was and fashion lesson plans around what the majority didn't seem to know. 

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I teach English in Japan and the kids here are super unmotivated. There's not much I can do. Sometimes I plan games, but they don't always work. Instead of getting them interested in the language itself, what I've learned to do is make them interested in me. I make jokes in class (even if they can't understand it), I (playfully) tease them, and I try to create a "friendship" with them. That makes it easier for me to control the class so even if they hate English (which they do), they'll go through with the lesson. Developing a "friendship" with my students also makes it easier for them to come up to me to have casual conversations. I can't motivate them to actually open their books and study the grammar, but at least I can get them to attempt to talk to me in English. 

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All the answers on this topic have been great so far, I agree with them all! 

My personal approach has always been:

- to get to know my students and what they are learning for (for conversation/travel/exams/writing skills/speaking skills etc.)

- to stay dedicated to the learning goals (pass exam, speak to a foreigner... whatever it may be)

- for my students to get to know me (if they like you and respect you, more get's done)

- to deviate from the textbook (to find reading, writing, exercises or games with different topics, especially more popular themes)

- to reward (age appropriate rewards; my adult classes enjoy having "free" discussion topics, watching a movie clip or discussing travel/music or culture issues. The children love story time where I read to them or the usual candy/sticker rewards or I would teach them an English song or nursery rhyme, anything loud and fun to say (Dr. Seuss works)

- to make sure my students and I are having fun with the lessons so that no matter how tired they are or how long their day has been they know I will be waiting for them, excited to see them and help them learn.

 

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  • 2 months later...

Well, as a teacher of English as a foreign language, I understand that confidence is the key. A person might know tons of things about English (grammar, vocabulary, idioms, general rules, ect.), however he/she might be suffering from the fear of failure. Some students want to speak the language that perfectly, so people could never guess that they actually are not native speakers. That's totally fine. However, this idea of such perfection, the obsession with that idea is rather a negative thing than something good that fuels them to do things better. As a result, people have a weak confidence when it comes to talking in [language] with a native speaker/non-native speaker who speaks the language they are learning but doesn't speak their native one. That's no good!

To raise/solidify confidence in people, I usually compliment their achievements. Even if they fail so badly, I explain that it is okay. It's completely normal. And go back to complimenting their stronger links.

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I usually focus on their strong sides and complement them instead of criticizing them too much. The latter will only break their confidence which is not the right thing whatsoever. Grammar is fine but they should speak with confidence, in my opinion. It also means they won't be afraid to fail, as failure is a normal thing when you're learning.

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For me, what has always been motivational with any lesson I am learning is how it would apply to my daily life in the future, which unfortunately my schools didn't really focus too much on for me growing up, so I ended up just getting bored with all my subjects when I was younger. The ones I did end up getting high grades on were the ones I understood how they would apply to my life outside of school, so that's what I would suggest which is to explain how certain phrases could be used or why they are important, instead of just putting out lesson plans and having everyone memorize them without knowing the reason why they are important. 

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There are a variety of ways but tailoring your lessons and approach to suit the needs of the people you are teaching goes a long way to help keep them motivated. It also helps to be realistic and keep an eye out for signs that motivation may be low. On low motivation days, you can change the structure or pace of a lesson in order to help keep students motivated in the long run. Humour also helps students through tough times and keeps them interested in going over similar themes repeatedly. 

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  • 2 months later...

I simply write a sentence down on the board in a language which they want to learn and the first person to decipher it wins something, whether it is good grades or gifts or something else.

 

This usually does the trick as students often rush through the books in order to actually find out what it means and thus ensuring that it becomes easier for you to actually spark their curiosity to understand the language and the context of the language as well and come with the meaning themselves.

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I'm not a teacher, I am a student, but reading through the posts here has helped me think of more ways to motivate myself and keep myself on track when learning new languages. I think if I had to add something I would say use stories. Especially when teaching children. Everyone loves a good story and I think it would really make a positive impact with the kids. 

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Getting extra learning materials like recordings can motivate your students. Learning can not be enjoyable if students can't get the necessary learning materials. Teaching them proverbs in the languages they are learning can also motivate them since they get to know the deeper meaning of such proverbs. 

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To make learning more fun and interesting, our Japanese language instructor uses visual aids as well as teaching with the use of flash cards. She even gives us various exercises which we do at home.  We also read our materials in advance to make learning more interesting.  When I was starting the language, I was initially a bit lost as I was having some difficulty trying to remember the subject matter.  But as time passed I eventually got the hang of it and I got quite high marks in my midterms.  Family problems and distractions have slightly pulled down my grades in the finals, but I was still passing nonetheless.

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