This article is about motivating young learners in teaching foreign languages, especially English language. Here is given types of motivations and how to use them in teaching young learners.
Key words: demotivate, motivation, incorporate, visual and aural channel, extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, failure, reprehension, cyclical, attractive, determination, elate, curiosity, provoke.
Эта статья посвящена мотивации молодых учащихся к обучению иностранным языкам, особенно английскому языку. Здесь приведены типы мотиваций и способы их использования в обучении молодых учащихся.
Ключевые слова: демотивация, мотивация, нераздельный, визуальный и звуковой метод, внешняя мотивация, внутренняя мотивация, неудача, понимание, циклический, привлекательный, определение, поднимать настроение, любопытство, провоцировать
“Children’s motivation and enthusiasm can be raised by selecting interesting activities, for example; it can be lost easily: monotonous, apparently pointless activities quickly bore and demotivate young learners. I would be more accurate to say that younger learners’ motivation is more likely to vary and is more susceptible to immediate surrounding influences, including the teacher; that of older learners’ tends to be more stable” (Ur 1991: 288).
However, there are other factors, which can influence learners on the way to their loss of motivation, for example, inappropriate choice of activities, that do not keep children’s interest for a long time and they become easily bored. The environment in which children spend a considerable part of the day as well as the class equipment should offer pleasant conditions so that the learners do not feel uncomfortable, distracted or under pressure. The tasks and activities must be easy to understand because feeling confused by abstract concepts of grammar rules can discourage learners from trying to solve the problems.
Teachers should be careful of over-correcting pupils so that the children do not lose the interest to express themselves.
As Harmer claims “however much we do to foster and sustain student motivation, we can only, in the end, encourage by word and deed, offering our support and guidance. Real motivation comes from within each individual, from the students themselves” (2007: 20).
Teacher should be aware of personal conditions of each child. In which family does the child grow up, what kind or friends and people is the child surrounded by, also environmental condition should be taken into consideration. All these factors have a great influence on learner’s motivation. Teacher can raise the children’s desire to work by bringing things that relate to children’s personal experience and interest them into the learning process. For children such a lesson will be much more interesting and stimulating. For instance, any hobby the child has can be incorporated into an English lesson (Underwood 1987: 27).
For example children can tell the rest of the class about their favourite things or toys or pets, they can also write about them. Such a discussion or describing a thing could form the basis of practice for adjectives, comparatives, superlatives, question forms, and so on.
What children really like and is interesting for them are pictures, stories and games. Pictures are colourful and attract the eyes — they are kind of visual stimulus. Both visual as well as aural stimuli provide stories. Children can either read them themselves or they can just listen to the teacher’s voice. According to my experience games are the most favourite activities. Children use both visual and aural channels and moreover they need to speak and come to an understanding with others in order to get what they want. Body movements and physical activity are essential when incorporating playing games.
To be able to deal with a task or an activity successfully children need to master appropriate skills and knowledge. Children need to see the reason for doing an activity, e.g. to look up a piece of information to figure out the sense, put a puzzle together to find a hidden message or to perform a story to demonstrate the reality. The end product of such activity is very motivating and supports children in their further work (for further information see Phillips 1993: 38).
In agreement with Ur, “extrinsic motivation is that which derives from the influence of some kind of external incentive” (1991: 279).
As it was mentioned earlier, children can enhance the extrinsic motivation by the wish to please parents or the teacher. Anyway the teacher can affect learner’s motivation by many ways, e.g. he/she can reward learners who successfully fulfilled the task. Moreover succeeding in an activity creates enthusiasm and effort for the next work
Nobody wants to fail when trying doing the best. Failure in general is viewed as something unwanted. Learners should be aware that they are failing if they have done significantly less than they could have done or if they are not making satisfactory progress.
Anyway learners can be similarly motivated by teacher pressure. They want to do their best because they were told to. However, nowadays the older learners are not as afraid of teacher’s reprehension as the younger children do.
Written or oral testing is a competent way to motivate learners to study. In some way, they are forced to do that because the resultant mark is important for them. In addition they will study more carefully than if they had simply been told to learn it.
Children will often be motivated to do their best in order to beat their opponents in a competition. If the competition is not taken too seriously (it can have negative effect and be stressful for learners, who are not very good at language), and if scores are at least partly a result of chance, so that anyone might win, positive motivational aspects are enhanced and stress lowered.
According to Harmer, motivation can be defined as “…some kind of internal drive that encourages somebody to pursue a course of action” (2007: 20).
Ur reports two different types of motivation: intrinsic motivation — which brings the incentive of the learner to engage in the learning activity for its own sake (Ur, pg 276). This motivation is created in the classroom and it can be influenced by teacher’s methods, the activities that learners take part in or their perception of their success or failure. Ur further mentions extrinsic motivation — motivation which is derived from external incentives; children already come to the classroom with this type of motivation.
Ur further discriminates between ‘global’, ‘situational’ and ‘task’ motivation (1991: 276). We speak about global motivation when concerning the learner’s willingness to learn foreign language as a whole. Situational motivation has to do with classroom conditions, atmosphere or type of work or the total environment. It considers also the way the learner approaches the specific task
As a Young Learner teacher, you have a very important role. You are responsible for activating learning. Children will learn if they understand what they are doing. They must understand the message in order to develop a new language. Consequently, when you are planning your classes, you must use materials that are appropriate for the children’s age and reality. Experience is very important. For example, if you try to teach 6 year olds language for ordering food in a restaurant they will have trouble. This is because the language is not related to their lives. How many 6 year olds have you seen ordering food in a restaurant?
Can you think about things that children do have experience of that you can use in your classes? The best example would be games. It is essential that you include games and fun in the classroom to help Young Learners learn in an environment appropriate for their age.
Also, we must remember that learning is cyclical. This is especially important for the Young Learner teacher to remember. What children know today, they may forget tomorrow, and then remember again next week. You, as the teacher are in charge of recycling the content of each class. Don’t think that because you taught some words today your Young Learners will remember them easily!
You are fundamental in the child’s development. You will help and guide the child in every class. You will ask them to talk to their partners, to work in groups, to speak to other teachers. This is the social function of language, since language is for communication.
The teacher can hence the motivation and interest of pupils by giving further interesting and attractive information and activities concerning the language and its background.
By no means teacher plays very important role in activating children’s motivation and there are many factors that influence the learner’s determination. Teacher should provide interesting materials that are attractive for children, full of pictures and lively activities. As far as materials are concerned it is better to bring more additional materials to class, so that children do not become bored with just one book. Also praising and rewarding can help. Each child in its early age wants to please the teacher or parents, do its best and achieve the goals successfully. By giving rewards to children they will be elated in doing other tasks. According to Ur, intrinsic motivation is more important and valuable than the extrinsic motivation. When the child is interested in the learning activity, mostly the success in learning is guaranteed. The elements of success are intensified by incorporating speech or movement activity (Ur 1991: 288).
By young learners it can be very difficult for teacher to keep up their motivation. Children often want to find or discover something so it should be provided such activities that excite their curiosity and provoke their participation. The level of challenge must be considered so that the tasks are neither too difficult nor too easy.
I completely agree with Harmer, that children need to feel that the teacher really cares about them; if they feel supported and valued, they are far more likely to be motivated to learn (Harmer 2007: 20).
Creativity as an attribute belongs to the significant features not only of the teacher but also of the learner and the whole learning process. To manage a creative classroom activity learners should be offered enough time and space so that they can make the best of their imagination and originality. The principal is that children should feel free when solving the task and they should be aware of many valuable solutions possible.
The teacher should not interfere in the learning process as an authority — if possible — or should rather act as a helper or facilitator.
Learning activities provided to children must be purposeful. Language should be used as a tool of communication by means of which the activity objectives should be achieved.
Evaluation is an important element of creativity. The more varied it is the more stimulating and formative it is for children.
- Penny Ur A course in language teaching — Cambridge University Press, 1991. — 288 p.
- Phillips S. Young Learners — Oxford University Press, 1993. — 38
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- Brumft C. Communicative Methodology in Language Teaching. –Cambridge University Press, 1992. –166 p.