Motivation and Effectiveness in ELT

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How can I motivate my students? How can I make my students think about what they are doing and not just focus on getting the job done? How can I get my students really understand and appreciate what they are learning, not just pass the test?

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Motivation and Effectiveness in ELT

  1. 1. Motivation and Effectiveness in ELT By Biljana Pipović, Gimnazija “StevanJakovljević”, Vlasotince Key words: motivation, teacher behaviour, student behaviour How can I motivate my students? How can I make my students think about what they are doing and not just focus on getting the job done? How can I get my students really understand and appreciate what they are learning, not just pass the test? I believe these are not only my concerns. Many teachers find these questions very important because as pointed out by Dimitrios Thanasoulas in his article Motivation and Motivating in EFL "teacher skills in motivating learners should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness". To put it bluntly, the correlation between students‟ motivation and teaching effectiveness is significantly correlated with each other and they are interdependent. However, this is not the only reason. As stated in the article Student Motivation “Teachers have a lot to do with their students‟ motivation.” The truth is that we, teachers and educators, must be aware of this and must place a large emphasis on enhancing students‟ motivation. In order to answer the question „How to enhance motivation in the EFL classroom?’ we are to start with a cause and effect analysis. Namely, people in many professions (educators, scientists, historians, doctors, journalists…) spend a lot of their time and effort to understand the causes and effects of human behaviour. If we apply this analysis to the classroom environment, it means that the better we understand the consequences of our behaviour, the better we can modify it in a way that will allow us to make the most of it in the classroom and for our students. Therefore, we come to the conclusion that whatever is done by a teacher has a motivational, formative, influence on students. In other words, teacher behaviour is a powerful "motivational tool" (Dornyei, 2001). Everything the teacher does in the classroom has a motivational influence upon students. For example, effective teachers are the ones with enthusiasm for their work; effective teachers are highly motivated educators who want every student to succeed and reach his / her maximum potential, intellectually and socially; effective teachers will create a positive climate for learning by challenging students‟ ideas, inspiring them, being more innovative and focusing on students‟ abilities and interests where appropriate; effective teachers will make sure that students know why they need to learn the language that is the target of the day‟s lesson;
  2. 2. effective teachers will provide not only knowledge but also support to meet the individual needs of their students focusing on building self-confidence and mutual trust and respect. To sum up, “… motivation to learn is a competence acquired "through general experience but stimulated most directly through modeling, communication of expectations, and direct instruction or socialization by significant others (especially parents and teachers)." (Jere Brophy, 1987). However, students‟ motivation can also be seen as personal investment, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral engagement in school activities.1 Some students are intrinsically motivated - their desire to learn springs up from their personal interests, self-fulfillment and enjoyment when achieving mastery in learning. Based on my experience, these students are real treasure in the classroom as we can always rely on their enthusiasm, curiosity and willingness to do the task. What is more, we can use them as peer models – a very powerful tool in my opinion as teenagers tend to identify with their peers, so why not with someone who is successful at performing tasks in the classroom? Teaching English in Serbia is a very challenging task. On the one hand, there are highly motivated students who are absolutely aware of many benefits that come with learning and mastering it. They see it as an advantage in this modern world – if we want to become globally competitive, we need to learn English. On the other hand, there are many students who learn it simply because it is a must – an obligatory subject starting with the grade one of the elementary school. I often hear them saying that English is very difficult to master – it is easy to pick up at the start, but later many students find it hard to reach the very high levels, because there are so many exceptions to everything and so many (little) rules. Just like all teachers, I know that if I want my students to be motivated, I, as their teacher, must be motivated in the first place, no matter how challenging the task is. I keep myself motivated by the activities I choose to do in the classroom – if I am not excited and motivated by the activities I have planned for my students, how can they be?! For me, teaching is fun – I enjoy playing with my students, telling jokes, using humour. It serves to keep a fun and happy learning environment, and this alone can motivate students. If your students can laugh with you, and if they like you, they‟ll be interested in what you‟re doing up there in front of the class. When I enjoy, my students enjoy. It‟s as simple as that. 1 http://www.education.com/reference/article/motivation-affects-learning-behavior/
  3. 3. I also strongly believe that variety is the spice of life, so why not the spice of ELT?! ‘Teaching should be full of ideas, instead of stuffed with facts.‟ (Anonymous) If we approach teaching in that way, we can prove that some, for students boring and rather dry activities, can bring a lot of fun and be not only interesting but highly educational. If I see that the students in one class don‟t respond to an activity, I avoid it in the future and stick to the ones they like. I tend to give them a variety of activities and always keep changing them. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that, makes my classes more interesting and my students more motivated. References: Thanasoulas, Dimitrios. 2002 Motivation and Motivating in EFL. English Club : Teach English : TEFL Articles Student Motivation To Learn. ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Management. http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content2/Student_Motivatation.html Student Motivation http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/affective/motivation.html http://www.education.com/reference/article/motivation-affects-learning-behavior/ Dornyei, 2001, Motivation and Motivating in EFL Jere Brophy, 1987, Student Motivation To Learn
  4. 4. ***** Biljana Pipovic is an English teacher, born in Leskovac, studied in Nis, employed at Gimnazija ‟StevanJakoljevic‟ in Vlasotince with working experience of 15 years. She has also been working as a language instructor in private schools for eight years teaching teenagers and adults of all language levels, both general and Business English. Since 2006 she has been a mentor to talented students, the members of the Regional Talents‟ Center in Vranje and two times award winner in the Republic Competition for Talented Students. She is the author and a teacher trainer of two seminars recognized as a form of professional development by the Ministry of Education, trying to make teachers change their approach to teaching, showing them that variety is the spice of ELT. The accredited seminar Variety as the Spice of ELT intends to provide some guidance on this interesting and challenging idea. Her present interests include teaching FCE, CAE and CPE exam classes, international school projects, classroom interaction and working with gifted students in a mixed-ability classroom.

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