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How to motivate English language learners

Iain MTEFL Contributor
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As an ESL teacher, motivating your English language learners (ELLs) is crucial for their success. Motivation is the driving force behind learning a new language, and without it, students may become disengaged and struggle to make progress. Here are some tips to help you motivate your ELLs.

Set Realistic Goals

Setting realistic goals is key to keeping your students motivated. Goals give your students something to work towards, and when they achieve them, they will feel a sense of accomplishment. However, it’s important to make sure that the goals you set are achievable for your students. Setting goals that are too difficult can lead to frustration and a lack of motivation. Similarly, setting goals that are too easy may not challenge your students enough to keep them engaged. Therefore, make sure to assess your students’ proficiency levels and set goals that are appropriate for them.

Make it Relevant

Making English language learning relevant to your students’ lives is another great way to motivate them. When your students see how learning English can benefit them in their daily lives, they are more likely to be motivated to learn. For example, if you have a student who wants to work in a restaurant, you can create lessons around restaurant vocabulary and phrases. Similarly, if you have a student who wants to study in an English-speaking university, you can create lessons around academic vocabulary and essay writing. By making the language learning relevant to your students’ goals, you can keep them motivated and engaged.

Create a Positive Classroom Environment

Creating a positive classroom environment is essential to keeping your students motivated. When your students feel safe and supported in your classroom, they are more likely to engage in learning. Creating a positive classroom environment can be done by greeting your students warmly, using positive reinforcement, and providing a comfortable and inviting classroom space. In addition, it’s important to be approachable and available to your students. When your students feel comfortable approaching you with questions or concerns, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated.

Use a Variety of Materials

Using a variety of materials can help to keep your students motivated. While textbooks and worksheets are important resources, they can become monotonous and boring if used too frequently. Incorporating other materials such as videos, music, games, and real-life materials can help to keep your lessons interesting and engaging. When your students are interested and engaged, they are more likely to be motivated to learn.

Encourage Collaboration

Encouraging collaboration among your students can also help to keep them motivated. When students work together, they can support and encourage each other, which can help to build a sense of community in your classroom. Additionally, working in groups can help to make learning more enjoyable and engaging. You can encourage collaboration by assigning group projects, pairing students up for activities, and creating opportunities for students to work together.

Provide Feedback

Providing feedback to your students is essential to keeping them motivated. Feedback helps your students understand what they are doing well and where they need to improve. When providing feedback, it’s important to be specific and constructive. Instead of simply saying “good job,” try to provide specific feedback such as “I really liked how you used descriptive language in your writing.” Additionally, it’s important to provide feedback regularly and consistently, as this will help your students to track their progress and stay motivated.

Celebrate Achievements

Finally, celebrating your students’ achievements is a great way to keep them motivated. When your students achieve a goal or make progress in their learning, take the time to recognize and celebrate their achievements. This can be done by giving them a certificate, sharing their achievement with the class, or providing a small reward. Celebrating achievements helps to reinforce your students’ motivation and encourages them to continue working towards their goals

Iain MTEFL Contributor
Iain has over ten years of experience as an ESL/EFL instructor, teaching students of all ages. He has operated and managed an English language school and is now dedicated to creating teaching material.

Disclaimer  We aim to provide useful ESL and EFL teaching resources and educational ideas. Our articles are written by educators with extension TEFL experience. They contain only general information about teaching English as a foreign language and are meant purely for informational purposes.

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