AusELT Chat: 30 August, 2012: Tips and techniques to motivate your students

Our first AusELT Chat took place on August 30and it was a lively and exhilarating start to this new monthly event for the Australian ELT community (and indeed anyone else who wishes to join in.) The topic was ‘What are your tips and techniques for motivating students?’ Many thanks to all participants as well as Kyle Smith (@elkysmith) & Michael Griffiths (@trylingual) for moderating. Please find below an overview of the chat, a link to the full chat transcript, and some links you may find useful for further reading.

The chat started with definitions of a motivated student. Participants volunteered students with enthusiasm, clear goals and those who are self-funded. The chat then turned to how we define an unmotivated student. A lack of ability, fear of failure, a lack of direction, unrealised and/or unrealistic expectations were all cited as possible reasons students manifest as unmotivated. We were reminded of Chuck Sandy (@chucksandy)’s observation that students often have a host of personal reasons for being disengaged at a particular time. Phil C (@TESOLatMQ) questioned the tendency for teachers to feel they have to ‘nail down a student’s needs.’

Next we moved on to tips and techniques and there was some debate around intrinsic and extrinsic motivations. Unsurprisingly, this also saw some discussion around the ‘lolly prize technique’ used in many ESL classrooms. The jury seemed to be in favour of rewards being more intrinsic with Paul Forster (@forstersensei) noting ‘chocs just don’t cut it.’ Phil C intervened with a nugget from Jim Scrivener (@jimscriv), namely you can’t bring motivation in to a classroom, you can only stir up what is there. Food for thought, which led on to some tips and tricks for motivating students.

Please see below a list of ideas generated from the chat:

  • Make lessons memorable, take students outside the classroom
  • Win over the ‘transmitters’ & influencers in the group – work on positive class dynamics
  • Allow students to have ownership: e.g. utilise students’ interests, students can lead a lesson on their fave song/topic/video/You Tube clip etc.
  • Integrate authentic materials & allow students to see beyond the classroom
  • Invite locals in to the classroom to meet students (e.g. kids, friends, relatives)
  • Integrate cross cultural events and opportunities for students to share their background
  • Incorporate well-planned, challenging, student directed projects
  • Challenge students! And ensure students can see immediate reward for their efforts
  • Don’t blame the student! Teacher-student interaction, personal connections and teacher motivation are important
  • Adapt course book materials
  • #classdojo/awards e.g. canteen vouchers
  • use ‘high quality talk’ in the classroom (see Interaction and learning blog)

Full chat transcript

For further reading:
Motivation’ Ushioda & Dornyei
Think Tank – some ways to motivate your students
Motivating our students Chiew Pang

Many thanks again and any suggestions for the next chat are very welcome 😉

@Eslkazzyb

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