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Classroom Motivation & TEFL

Classroom Motivation is concerned with getting your students involved in the lesson and enthusiastic about learning.

To be motivated the students must be engaged. This means that they must feel personally involved in the lesson. If they are not involved then this opens up a distance between them and the material, them and you, and oftentimes, them and other students.

A number of factors influence motivation in the classroom. Some are internal (i.e. from the student themself) others are external (i.e. from the environment). This article gives a few good practical ideas on motivating your class.

Confidence & Positivity in the Classroom

If a student feels fearful about speaking out in class or does not feel confident in doing certain exercises it may well be nothing to do with the task itself but the state of the student. Perhaps they have been continually told they are not a good student or been put down by others either at home or in the classroom.

Your classroom should be a safe place for students to be. This means any student can feel free to experiment with the language and able to make mistakes without fear of being mocked by the teacher or the other students. Quite simply never, ever mock a student for a mistake but instead put a positive spin on everything. It is not a matter of:

No, that’s wrong. I’ve told you a thousand times, the right answer is…

but rather:

Oh, that’s really close! Try saying this instead…

These may seem small changes to make but they can make a huge difference with the students.Likewise praise good work; let the students know that they have done well but don’t overdo it. Heaping praise on everyone whether deserved or not devalues it.

Interesting Material in the ELT Classroom

The importance of getting the students engaged with the material cannot be overestimated. Quite simply, if the students aren’t interested in the material then they get bored and lack motivation making your job harder!

So how can you make sure they are interested? The first step is to make sure the material is of the right level; it can’t be too easy or too difficult for the class. Secondly it must engage the class which means getting the subject matter right: teaching a class of teenagers about the present perfect continuous‏‎ is never going to work. Getting them to read a text about sheep farming in the outback probably won’t be much more interesting to them. But having them watch a video of the latest music sensation or blockbuster and then working on that will probably engage them.

On this tack, make the material related to the real world of the students. Make it something they can understand and want to know about.

The Right Level in ELT Material

The material you give cannot be too easy. That’s boring. And it can’t be too difficult or students get disheartened and de-motivated. Ideally it should contain enough known language to make it understandable but several pieces of unknown language that will get the students thinking.

Choices in the EFL Classroom

Quite simply, when people feel involved in the classroom they work better and have increased motivation. Giving students choices can raise the level of involvement. If you, as a teacher, dictate every exercise and action then the students have no choice but to follow. However if you give them choices – however small – they have a stake in the situation.

  • Allow students to choose partners or groups (unless you have a specific reason not to)
  • Offer alternative assignments or homework to choose from
  • Allow students to suggest their own alternatives to the homework or assignment

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