Teaching English effectively: with special focus on learners’ interests
There are several ways of enhancing students’ motivation in the EFL classroom but an important one is to create the lesson on the basis of the learners’ interests. Everyone who looks back on former school days, might remember that learning was more enjoyable when the topics were interesting and furthermore, when they were handled in an exiting way.
The intention of this study is to present several ideas of improving the general motivation in the classroom. In addition to that, the current interests of students from German secondary schools and the consideration of the interests in the common English classroom will be presented with the help of a questionnaire.
Part one gives an overview of the terms interest and motivation in its psychological context and in relation to their meaning in the English classroom. The second part mentions the importance of incorporating students’ interest in the learning classroom.
Further, the third part deals with several possibilities of creating motivational conditions in the L2 classroom. Part four presents the results and the evaluation of a research which was conducted on the basis of the theoretical aspects. Part five deals with the content of the Lower Saxony Core Curriculum and the way it considers the students’ interests. Finally, the author sums up the results of the research and draws a conclusion.
Chapter 3, Creating motivational conditions in the classroom:
Before motivation can be effective in the EFL classroom elementary conditions are
needed which are created by the teacher, the learners and their environment. Thus,
this section brings the motivational influences of the teacher and of the group in the
language classroom into focus. The environment in the classroom is another important
factor that will be dealt with. Depending on whether these specific conditions
exist, motivation or demotivation will be the result.
3.1, Focus on the teacher:
Usually, the common language lesson is designed by the teacher. She/he decides
how the lesson is structured, which materials and methods are used, which topics are
discussed and when the lesson starts and accordingly ends. In a nutshell, the
teacher plays the leading role in the classroom.
The behaviour of the teacher influences the learning process and the motivational
conditions of the students for the most part. Dörnyei (2007:31) stated that a selfconducted
survey showed that ‘the participants considered the teacher’s own behaviour
to be the single most important motivational tool”. Concerning the motivational
effect of the teacher, Harmer (2007:20) stated that ‘one of the teacher’s main aims
should be to help students to sustain their motivation”.
Now, what are the behavioural factors of the teacher that effect students’ motivation?
The following paragraphs will present the main three aspects of teacher behaviour
that have great impact on the general student motivation. These are: The teachers’
personal characteristics, teacher closeness and classroom management (Dörnyei
3.1.1, Personal characteristics:
As mentioned above, the behaviour of a teacher in class is one of the most effective
factors for creating motivation in the language learning classroom. It is understood
that an unmotivated teacher is unable to affect the learners’ interaction in the classroom
positively. An unprepared and boring teacher will not create a motivating
atmosphere in the classroom.
It is necessary to help the students to be interested throughout a longer period in the
subject, so that they will acquire the learning aim (see Section 2). Csikszentmihalyi
(1997, cited in Dörnyei 2001:177) stated that popular teachers have the most influence
on the students’ development, because they behave in a way that is motivating
to the students. Outstanding characteristics of a popular teacher are enthusiasm and
emotions. Enthusiastic teachers are interested in their own subject and are able to
infect the students with their interest by showing dedication and passion ‘that there is
nothing else on earth they would rather be doing” (Dörnyei 2001:178).
In order to motivate the students to learn, the teacher must be aware of the value of
the curriculum’s content and the methods she/he will use for implementing it (Brophy
2010:214). Then, the teacher might be able to explain why this specific content of the
lesson is important for the students.
According to Brophy (2010:215), most students will learn better if they understand the
value of activities and the importance of learning English, for example: ‘Speaking
English enriches life in many ways” (Dörnyei 2007:33). Of course, a teacher would
only clarify the importance of the subject authentically if she/he believes in it as well.
Concerning this theory, Csikszentmihalyi (1997:77, cited in Dörnyei 2001:178) stated
If a teacher does not believe in his job, does not enjoy the learning he is trying to
transmit, the student will sense this and derive the entirely rational conclusion that the
particular subject matter is not worth mastering for ist own sake.
Now, if a teacher wants to enhance the general motivation in the EFL classroom he
needs to share her/his own interest with the students (Dörnyei 2007:33). According
this, the teacher should not to be too emotional regarding to the own subject or to a
specific topic of the lesson. It might be funny for the students if the teacher, for
example, begins to cry while dealing with Romeo and Juliet or if she/he cannot
control her/his anger (Dörnyei 2007:33). If a teacher is not able to deal with own
emotions she/he might make a fool of her-/himself and he probably will lose the
students’ respect (Dörnyei 2007:32).
A further factor of the teachers’ personality is: competence. According to this, Pintrich
and Schunk (1996:167) stated the following:
Perceived model competence aids observational learning because students are more
likely to attend and pattern their actions after models who perform successfully than
those less competent.
According to Pintrich and Schunk (1996:167), the factor competence depends,
consequently, more on the function of a role model. Of course, competence of a
teacher would not necessarily cause motivation (Pintrich and Schunk 1996:168) but
students might take a competent teacher more seriously than one, who performs
Katharina Okon was born in Brunsbüttel, a town in the North of Germany, in 1985. She obtained a bachelor's degree in science in 2009, and a master's degree in education in 2010, both from the University of Hildesheim, Lower Saxony. During her studies, the author gained wide experience of teaching English in a modern way. With regard to the change of teaching English in the foreign language classrooms, she decided to focus on this topic.
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- Artikel-Nr.: SW9783954895809
- Artikelnummer SW9783954895809
- Wasserzeichen ja
- Verlag Anchor Academic Publishing
- Seitenzahl 65
- Veröffentlichung 01.02.2014
- ISBN 9783954895809