Motivation and Language Learning

 

Well, I know that this topic has been discussed many times before. However, I feel that I should start my blog with some thoughts about motivation because I find it essential to learning a language.

Motivation to learn languages changes with age. Young learners feel motivated to learn a language because they like the language or the culture that it represents. Older learners find it important for their career growth or they just want to communicate during their travels.

At the International School Manila, I work in an environment where English language learners are immersed. They want to learn English because it allows them to be part of the social group that they are playing and learning with. In a way, students are pressured by their environment to communicate. Foreign language teachers are in a much tougher position. They have only a few hours a week with their students, plus the students don’t feel the external pressure to learn that the English learners in immersion programs feel. It is proven that students’ motivation to become proficient in another language is higher in immersion programs than in foreign language programs. As a result, they become proficient much faster. That doesn’t mean that students shouldn’t attend foreign language programs. It simply means that they will need longer time to become proficient.

No matter, what program we teach in, we ESL and EFL teachers can definitely boost students’ motivation and their progress as well. You might ask then, how? I think that we can start by making our lessons creative and fun for our students. We have to establish a non-threatening, relaxed environment where everyone is not afraid to speak the target language. We should definitely take advantage of all new technology tools that are available to us including iPads, iPods, interactive boards, computers and online resources.

This might sound overly simplistic, but I’ve found it to be the thing that really matters!

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