Published 13th September 2017
Motivation in the EFL classroom is a tricky thing. Students need to be motivated to want to learn English. They need to be motivated to come to class, concentrate in class, and then do their homework after class. They need to be motivated to use their English outside the classroom and expose themselves to the language even when they are not in the classroom. That’s a whole lot of motivation. And that’s not even taking into account those students who are not learning English by choice but who are there because it is a school subject or their parents are making them learn a language – that’s a whole different kettle of fish.
The reality is, motivation is an essential factor in learning a language. Learning a language takes dedication and hard work, so if you’re not motivated, your chances of learning to speak and understand English are minimal.
On the flip side, being motivated means you will be interested in the language and engaged in your lessons, making your English journey a much more enjoyable and successful experience.
So how can we promote this elusive motivation in the EFL classroom?
There’s no point in trying to pretend you’re someone different. Your students will pick up very quickly if you actually don’t know anything about football or if you don’t actually like Justin Bieber. Your students want to get to know who you really are, so let them. Design activities that will let your students find out about your family, your lifestyle, your interests. Ok, so we’re not saying tell them EVERYTHING, but letting them into your personal life a little will go a long way to building rapport.
Let Them Talk
This is not as easy as it sounds. Being a teacher, you may be inclined to take the lead in lessons. After all, you’re the teacher. But, in fact, what you should try to do is make your classrooms as student-centred as possible. Give your students the opportunity to speak and they may surprise you with what they produce. And not only during activities either: give them space to ask questions at any time in the lesson and just to make general chitchat. Whatever they say, if it’s in English, you’re winning.
Get down off your teacher horse and let your students see you as a person. Be the staff member that they feel comfortable enough talking to about everyday matters that don’t relate to the classroom. If your students trust you enough to chat to you as a friend, they’re more likely to feel comfortable in your lessons and, ultimately, more likely to speak English, mistakes, and all.
Promoting motivation may not be as simple as teaching irregular verbs but it’s worth the hard work in the end. Cultivating motivating classes will result in hard-working students who appreciate the English language and are not afraid to use it. What’s more, having motivated students will ultimately motivate you!