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.