Thursday, January 12, 2012

Infuse Energy Into Your English Language Class

Well-motivated students learn better. This fact has been well-established for years and has compelled educators to develop different motivational techniques to improve learning outcomes in classrooms. If this is the case in a typical classroom dynamic, it is the same or even more so in the teaching of English as a second or foreign language. As it is, learner motivation is a crucial component in the success of any given ESL/TFL course--whether basic, intermediate, or advanced--because the learning curve that is needed to be hurdled is usually steeper, especially in basic level classes wherein the teacher has very minimal or no proficiency in students' primary language. Without the linguistic connection with their teachers, learners with low motivation will have very low success rates in developing acceptable proficiencies in spoken or written English.

In many countries, the objectives for learning English are clear. Following the tacit acceptance of English as the default language in global discourse, governments around the world have already mandated the teaching of English in early-school curricula. But even beyond this mandate, private citizens and organizations are unilaterally employing native English speakers to further develop the English skills of students, artists, scientists, diplomats, professionals and other segments of the population to keep it abreast with global developments. It is the responsibility of ESL/EFL teachers to identify the learning objectives in each of their classes and discern their students' level of motivation in relation to these objectives. For example, business professionals in Asia and Continental/Eastern Europe would want to learn English because it allows them to collaborate on a global scale, effectively giving them an edge over language-restricted colleagues in the corporate ladder. On the other hand, world travelers need a rich sampling of English conversational phrases in addition to the local language to be able to effectively engage native populations.

Knowing the students' purpose in studying English as a second or foreign language is the first step in developing the appropriate strategies for motivating them to achieve their goals. Without the proper motivation, language students will just waste money, time, and other resources without really developing the linguistic skills they are aiming at.

If you are an English language teacher or tutor who want to succeed in the field, you need to generate value by engaging both driven and under-motivated students. Self-driven, well-motivated students learn fast and often under their own volition. On the other hand, under-motivated learners intermittently encounter cognitive blocks that prevent them from fully appreciating the lesson concepts, much less apply these concepts in everyday communication. It is therefore, the responsibility of ESL/EFL educators to make their lessons sufficiently interesting in order to draw in as much involvement from all learners as possible.

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