TEFL Tips – Motivation

It’s a sad fact that an awful lot of English teaching is a complete waste of time. There are several factors for this, but a major one is when a student has unrealistic expectations and goals. A fellow teacher once suggested that 80% of all he does is a waste of time. I looked back at my students of the last year and found he wasn’t far off with that percentage. So how to encourage, motivate and take the students to the next level, without them falling into a depression because they haven’t become fluent speakers in the first three months?

Right from the outset, explain fully and frankly what they are letting themselves in for. Make sure they appreciate that their level of English is not going to shown any sudden improvement from an hours class once a week. They need to commit themselves to three hours weekly as a minimum. Make sure they understand that learning English is a long term thing. Significant improvements become most clearly visible, months and years into a course not days and weeks later.

But also make sure that they know that if they stick to it, they will get there. Encourage them to do the fun things – reading poetry, watching the Simpsons, chatting on the internet – in their free time. Make sure they know that every minute of practice, no matter how trivial it may seem, is of value.

Set quarterly targets. Test them, show them where they have improved. Point out things they get right that they used to get wrong. Don’t rush through course books, which is often a temptation. Ensure they understand that progress isn’t measured simply by the number of pages completed. You do sometimes need to be a motivational leader of sorts –  one of the big issues with many students is confidence, and their lack of it. One of the most significant and most sudden improvements you can get from a student is if you are able to instil in them a little confidence in their ability.

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