How to spark motivation in teenage EFL learners?
Diary submitted by Lorena R. Madrid
What are the most efficient methods to keep teenage learners interested and engaged during classes? How can teachers influence and change student’s negative attitude towards learning?
First of all, motivation is one of the most important factors when it comes to successful learning with regard to all age levels. It is not false to assume that learning outcomes are, therefore, defined by the initial attitude learners develop towards the subject and to which extent they are willing to pursue their goal. Teaching teenagers, for example, can be a challenging task for EFL teachers. This is due to the fact that teens are in the age of transition, confusion and growing and it is often necessary to build up their self-confidence and stimulate their motivation in order to encourage them to speak in the classroom. In this journal, we are going to explore what are the most efficient methods teachers can use to motivate teens and influence their attitude towards learning English.
Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are equally essential elements that should be considered when teaching teens. Despite a longer attention span, students’ engagement and concentration is reported to be decreasing at this age and they develop negative attitude towards learning. I would say that one of the key issues is developing a positive and enthusiastic approach yourself. I always try to start my classes in this manner, but also while presenting new content or introducing grammar. I believe this has a high impact on teenagers and makes them more comfortable in the classroom. Another point, is trying to appeal to their interests. For instance, explaining some abstract grammatical points by using examples they are familiar with or those they can relate to. Furthermore, I have noticed that most of the teenagers are more willing to participate in class when you ask them questions such as what are their favourite movies, actors, what type of music or which instrument do they like to play, what sport do they practise etc. Setting personalised examples and showing and acknowledging their interests can make a great difference.
What is more, teens are easily bored if we apply the same drilling techniques, so what I like to do to make the lesson more interesting is to challenge my students to discover the rules and principles by themselves. In this way we are giving them autonomy while nurturing their independence. Creativity is one of the advantages of teaching and applying various techniques alongside with activities in my classroom I can feel that students are more motivated. Another way to change their negative attitude is to develop a good relationship with your students. However, I never forget to give them feedback about their work and progress, praise is crucial in this age group since their self-confidence is fragile. Apart from that they are able to understand the goals of learning, for this reason I like to talk to them about the importance of English and what significance it has on their future. Especially if they are reluctant when it comes to speaking and coming to classes. In order to make the lessons more entertaining, I prefer to familiarise my learners with the target culture by introducing interesting facts related to the topic we are discussing.
Including these methods in my classes I have noted that teenage learners are more interested in English and more willing to speak and express themselves. In fact, some of them have even asked me to give them additional materials or sources they can study at home to improve their reading or listening skills. That is why teachers have an immense role not only as facilitators but also guides who lead their students on the right path helping them to maintain the interest and remain motivated.
- Brown, H. D. (2001). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. 2nd edition White Plains, NY: Longman.
- Macklem, G. L. (2015). Boredom in the Classroom. Addressing Student Motivation, Self- Regulation, and Engagement in Learning. Springer International Publishing, Switzerland.