Dec 12, 2012

More on motivation

(cont).......... So, methodology has a role: a classroom method that seems appropriate, relevant and respectful to intelligent individuals is likely to enable the right conditions for ‘fertile learning’.
Language has to be presented in the right modality; for example, learners who identify speaking as their priority are more likely to respond positively to a spoken modality rather than work primarily from books or become passive members of an audience in a lecture style format.

Relevance of content is important of course -- language has to be related to what learners perceive as being useful in practical language-using situations. The course also needs to be accessible and learning has to be manageable.
Approaches diverge on this point, but I believe that structure is something that many learners approve of - the randomness, eccentricities and originality of language are not aspects that should be emphasised in the language classroom, certainly not at most levels (I want to differentiate between ‘language’ course and ‘cultural’ courses which deal with literature or creative writing etc. – combining the two things has caused more harm than good for generations of school students worldwide).
I'm not suggesting that the life be squeezed out of the language, but if the course is well-thought out enough to allow students to be aware that things do connect up and that simple things do lead on to other things (which, in turn, will be more straightforward to learn having grasped the preceding simple things) students will feel empowered - they will feel that they are just about in control of the language that they have so far learnt : it's not some slippery mystery that is constantly beyond their reach.

In this respect the structure of the course should allow constant mini goals -- the chance for students to see success throughout the lesson - as well as setting longer scale milestones which enable students to mark their progress over the months.
Most people need regular reward in order to keep the minute-to-minute motivation that sees them through lessons, but this needs to be balanced with a sense of challenge -- lessons mustn't be dumbed down. The recognition of achieving even small tasks which were unachievable in previous lessons is important – as is acknowledgement of this from the teacher. Constant patting on the back can backfire but giving credit where credit is due will consolidate a sense of self-efficacy when it comes from a respected source.

to be continued ..........

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