5 Winning Strategies for Motivating English Learners

Motivation is one of the most important factors in language learning. And just like any other skill, it can be developed. That’s why having some super engaging activities, ideas and strategies in your back pocket is always a good idea. If you are trying to come up with ideas for inspiring and motivating your English learners, here are some proven strategies!

  • 🔖 Gaining knowledge by experience

  • Have you ever noticed the buzz of excitement when children in a science class do experiments and projects? Well, all students enjoy hands-on learning and creative activities!

When we hear the word ‘experiments’, our minds go immediately to subjects like physics and chemistry. And when we think of the word ‘creativity’, we usually imagine art and music classes. But hands-on, creative learning activities can be brought easily into all EFL classrooms. Just motivate your students to create something new: an essay, a story or a poem, a stimulating piece of art or an attention-grabbing construction project!

🔖 Embracing pop culture  

Imagine that you want to help your students practise the past simple tense. Will they be more interested in a boring gap-filling exercise or in that outrageous outfit their favourite actor chose to wear yesterday? Will they eagerly focus on a poem or on the lyrics of a popular song?

Bringing pop culture into the equation will help you to keep your students engaged and willing to learn. When keeping English learners focused on what you’re teaching seems like a herculean task, grab their attention with pop culture elements that will help you to build a bridge between what is taught in your classroom and what happens in life.

🔖 Using digital tools

All children, teenagers and adults can easily view English learning as a necessary step in order to access the digital world. In other words, they are motivated to learn English because they want to use technology.  

So, pull out the big guns: smartboards, computers and smartphones! Making use of technology and combining text, image and audio can always make a lesson much more interesting. And online activities are great allies when teaching English. For example, a WebQuest can motivate all learners (whether they are 8 or 28 years old!). You cannot expect your students to be motivated if they only do endless grammar and vocabulary exercises. Technology can be much more empowering! 

🔖 Taking advantage of the competitive spirit

No matter how old we are, we all love competitions and games that help us to beat our peers! That’s why including an element of competition will motivate your students.

Fun educational board games, quizzes, crossword puzzles and other fun activities transform learning into play and help your students to revise what has already been learnt and practise their skills in an effortless and motivating way. 

🔖 Creating a friendly environment

Avoid overcorrecting and undermining students’ confidence. Bear in mind that praise can work wonders in your classroom. That’s why you should celebrate all the small achievements of your students. Positive reinforcement is essential!

Creating a high-quality classroom environment can also spur creativity and help students to feel more motivated to engage in the learning process. Rethink your classroom design, create a horseshoe-shaped formation or flexible clusters and add a splash of colour and motivational posters with success quotes. Even the smallest of changes can make a big difference in a classroom environment!

And don’t forget to share your enthusiasm! As Steve Jobs once said: ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do.’ Think back… When you were a child, how did you feel about a boring lesson and a demotivated teacher? If you get excited about your lesson, your passion will motivate your students. It’s as simple as that! 

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