Motivational strategies

Teachers agree that motivation is key in second language learning, but how does what we do in the classroom influence students’ motivation?

A recent study by Moskovsky et al. (2012) indicates that the following strategies increase motivation:

1. Break the routine of the classroom by varying learning tasks and the
presentation format.
2. Show students that you care about their progress.
3. Show students that you accept and care about them.
4. Recognize students’ effort and achievement.
5. Be mentally and physically available to respond to your students’ academic
needs in the classroom.
6. Increase the amount of English you use in the language classroom.

7. Make learning tasks more attractive by adding new and humorous elements
to them.
8. Remind students of the importance of English as a global language and
the usefulness of mastering the skills of this language.
9. Relate the subject content and learning tasks to the everyday experiences
and backgrounds of the students.
10. Consistently encourage students by drawing their attention to the fact that
you believe in their effort to learn and their capabilities to succeed.

Many of these points appeal to common sense, but it’s great to see empirical research starting to confirm the positive effects of what we do in the classroom.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses in these areas?
  • Are there any strategies which you think you should pay more attention to in your teaching?
  • For the strategies which you feel you do well, do you have any advice, techniques or activities to share?

7 responses to “Motivation

  1. I love this article- it is so true. Unfortunately, for me, the itty bitty details that arise during a school day seem to cloud my achievements in each of these 10 areas. I am going to print this and put it on my ‘Motivation Board’ that I have in an area where I get ready each morning so that I am gently reminded by this! Thanks for the post 🙂

  2. Maybe the weakest point of Spanish speakers is that they avoid by all means expressing themselves in a different language. They are quite good at understanding but they are shy, particularly teenagers. They think they can’t afford that other students laugh at them when they try to pronounce.

  3. I wish I’d known of your site when I was English-teaching in Thailand last year! This is an excellent resource. Thanks for recently following my blog and bringing me to yours. I look forward to using this when I get back into the classroom : )

  4. I have recently taken over a group of ‘mature’ business English students. The previous teacher described them as a lovely chatty bunch. I reaiised in lesson one that they needed to work on pronunciation, accuracy, business skills and most of all confidence. I structured the lessons around business skills raising the bar each time so that they were challenged and used plenty of reinforcement and praise. I let them know that I took them seriously as ‘life-long’ learners and that my expectations of them were high. The chat fizzled out as we got to grips with giving presentations.I wondered if I was being too driven but the results were amazing and as they realised how serious and commited I was to them succeeding so they started to really commit to the course.
    At the end they told me that my teaching had been so different from the previous teacher, my heart sank, she had been very popular. However they went on to say that they had learnt so much and been inspired. The point was that I am sometimes that ‘popular’ teacher and that works too but I really think that expecting greatness is the secret to motivation.

  5. Great and knowledgeable blog, even for non-teachers. Thank you!

  6. I totally agree with this post! Without motivation of your teaching will be an uphill battle. I encourage students to attach all new learning to their current store of knowledge, experiences and memories. Then never give up on their ability to learn! Learning a language can be so slow and frustrating that if the teacher doesn’t believe in you, it can become just too hard.

  7. How about motivating students with rewards like prizes and money? I’m curious what research says about this. After all, from the time we leave school, this type of reward is what motivates many people in their day to day decision making. Some friends and I have started a project, the National English Spelling Competition of Georgia, that rewards students and teachers with public recognition and prizes for excellent performance. We’ve had success, but we don’t have much research guiding our project. Would be nice to hear your thoughts.

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