Short Stories ‘Not This Time…’

He had no home, no family, at least that’s what he wanted people to believe. Jack was from nowhere and from everywhere. He sat on the filthy pavement of the park’s south entrance, watching. The loc…

Source: Not This Time…

How to Plan for a Successful Lesson with your Young Learners

Motivation is one of the most challenging tasks for any teacher, regardless of the subject and area of study. Imagine the dreaded scenario of a teacher walking in to a classroom full of students who would rather be anywhere else but in that classroom. Not very encouraging is it?

This is even more true when faced with young learners, who have probably had no say in the matter-their parents having chosen for them. An adult is motivated to learn because in most cases, he or she has paid for the course, where as a young learner does not have this financial motivation.

Therefore, when dealing with young learners, stimulating motivation is one of your major goals if you wish to achieve progress in the language and not least of all enjoy yourself too!

It is up to you as a teacher to create a motivational environment, make your young learners feel stimulated, at ease and of course show them that you are in control of the class and can run the activities successfully.

The use of appropriate discipline strategies is fundamental when dealing with young learners. The way we behave in a classroom will pave the way to a effective and pleasurable class attitude and progression.

As a teacher you should be able to organize and manage a classroom in order to create an effective learning place. You will hardly be able to teach in a chaotic environment, so keep these key points in mind:

  • Establish a good rapport with your class as well as a dynamic exchange
  • You need to be an ideal and effective role for your class
  • Be enthusiastic about your activities-this will in turn lead to enthusiasm

Some Useful Tips to Motivate Young Learners

The first issue to keep in mind is that you MUST plan your lessons-and that these should be planned keeping the children’s activities not the teacher’s.

Each activity should not take up too much time-the concentration span of a young learner is limited. With the smaller children 5 to 10 minutes is the ideal time lapse, although it can be longer depending on the task and how much they enjoy it. Keep in mind that although you have planned the lesson, you should be attentive and open-minded to their needs.

The different activities can be divided into:

Stirrers: these involve activities such as singing, moving around, and will motivate and excite the learners.

Settlers: activities such as drawing, writing, reading

Head down activities: when learners are concentrating on a book or drawing activity.

Head up activities: when they are looking at you or the board, or even at other children in the class.

It is important to plan for a varied and uniformly composed lesson, using all the activity-types mentioned. If you don’t vary, this will lead to frustration and de-motivation.

It is also important to organize your activities in pairs and small groups, as children need to relate with others too-this is stimulating and socially motivating.

Plan for your lesson time and for the tools you need. Having prepared everything before hand will avoid unnecessary and distracting time gaps. Think carefully about how you will organize this phase of the lesson as it could lead to an unsuccessful lesson.

Your young learners should be aware of what you expect from them. Make sure you tell them what they are going to do during each lesson, you will be surprise how cooperative they can get!

Motivating Learners Using Creative Activities

Creativity1Have you ever stopped to think about the role creativity plays in our lives? Isn’t creativity a fundamental tool as a survival strategy? How many times have you used your creativity to get out of difficult situations or come up with solutions to immediate problem?

Creativity is a naturally ingrained trait we have-a force that builds up our individual development. It enriches both the quality of our life, as well as the process of learning.

Creativity plays an essential role in any learning process, and as teachers we should encourage learners to explore the English language through creative activities. Not only does it heighten the development of a student, it is also fundamental for the personal development and fulfilment of a teacher.

Why are creative ideas an important part of teaching?

Encouraging learners to explore a language through creative activities will provide them with the necessary tools to produce words and sentences more efficiently. When learners are at their first attempts, using compensation strategies, such as miming, drawing and paraphrasing, allows for imaginative strategies which compensate for the lack of language skills.

Learners need to have an objective when learning a language. It is important for them to be able to visualize a purpose, outcome and product of their work. Creativity is the perfect way to achieve this-a means by which they can express their language use. The more challenging a task is, the more motivated learners will be. Creativity also goes hand in hand with self-esteem, for learners can visualize their final product and relate to it as a progression in their learning.

Group Creativity

Creativity is also important as a group task, rendering activities more enjoyable and allowing learners to try out multiple activities, giving free thought to individual talents and ideas. Unfortunately, nowadays education tends to stifle the creative aspect of learning, with the obsession towards objectives, forgetting that there are other wider aims when learning. The focus is directed to testing of progression and achievement of marks and exams, leaving little space to creative and balance of individual learners.

It is therefore important to promote a more balanced and creative environment if, as teachers we wish to bring out the creativeness in all learners and establish a more positive class environment. Everyone is creative in different ways, and it is this creativeness that will lead to a better quality in the learning and attainment of a new language.

Motivation – The Key to Success in Learning English as a Foreign Language

Motivating English Learners

Helping Teachers

Helping Teachers

I think that most of us, whether we are teachers searching for stimulating classroom tools and techniques, or individuals in quest for further personal development, will agree that motivation is essential if we wish to achieve any benefit or objective in any given field.

In fact, most tasks we perform daily will be all the more successful if motivation is the force behind our actions. Take a simple daily task for example, such as getting ready for the day, work or school.

These tasks can be dreary and repetitive, and often tiresome, unless the day ahead has some exciting prospect, which renders those actions easier, or even fun.

If we agree that motivation helps us get moving, then the same would be true when learning a new language. Unfortunately it is also true that motivation tends to wane as we progress in the learning phase. This can be due to many factors-and these should be closely considered if we want to keep the motivation going throughout the learning process in order to achieve our goal.

The hitch is that most results take time to be apparent, resulting in a slack of our driving force somewhere along the way. This is why it is essential to keep the motivation strong. As a teacher you can achieve this with regular encouragement under the form of compensation of work achieved or effort accomplishment. The learner should be able to see his or her progress in the language. Compensation should be genuine, as a good rapport based on respect and honesty is essential in building a motivating environment.
Why do some learners succeed while others struggle?

Although this question cannot be easily answered, as this would involve a deeper analysis of each learner, what many teachers have found, according to Jeremy Harmer ( The Practice of English Language Teaching 1991 ) is that if a learner really wants to succeed in any given subject, then he or she most likely will despite the difficulties or circumstances of the learning environment.

This result leads to the obvious conclusion that if a student is successful in learning English-although the tools and teaching methods are poor-then it is his or her motivational force that is the main reason for this success.

Why is a Motivational Plan Important?

Most foreign students learn English for exam purposes, work progression in their profession or to get around when travelling for work or fun. Although some do wish to learn English for personal development, this does not include the majority.

The initial driving force that motivates the learners to progress, tends to wear out as they proceed with their learning. A motivational plan is needed to keep the motivating factor going as the students progress. This eventually turns out to be problematic without the help of a motivational plan.

Initial motivation for wanting to learn a language is the easier part in learning and teaching. A student who chooses to learn English on his or her own accord has done so because it is what she or he is interested in. The difficult part is keeping the fire burning during the whole process of learning up until the student has achieved the aim.

There are two strategic factors to keep in mind when devising a Motivational Plan:

1.Ability to Generate Initial Motivation

During this phase a teacher should be able to establish a positive rapport with the students, by creating a comfortable and pleasant environment in the classroom. The next step is getting to know the students in order to be able to adapt to their needs and anticipating their interest areas when planning a lesson.

The programme should be relevant to their aims and capacity. This will allow for successful achievement and provide them with self-confidence as they progress. Encouraging self-evaluation in a positive way is also motivating for the learner, who becomes aware of his or her individual capabilities. Emphasizing and praising effort rather than ability will enhance the learner’s satisfaction thus spur on motivation.

2.Maintaining and Sustaining Motivation

Once the positive and motivating learning environment has been establish you should keep it that way. Allow your learners to set their own personal goals as they progress in the language. Help them find other fields of interest within the course or at home. Make sure you provide them with regular and genuine praise for their efforts and achievements.

Reducing the level of anxiety will stimulate a more favourable and pleasurable learning environment.Encourage autonomy and self-evaluation. The more independence a learner achieves the more self-assurance in the language he or she will have. This will keep their motivation high as they realize that they are now walking on their own two feet. They can now function alone and are ready to go.