Tuesday, 12 May 2009

1st Discussion Topic: "Learners & Learning, Classroom & Contexts."

Discussion taken from "Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom." (Tricia Hedge, Ch. 1)

Context: at the beginning of teaching a course with a new group of adolescent or adult students.
Objective: create activities (a) to find out their reasons for learning English and (b) to motivate them towards their language learning task.

(a) I would ask them to create a chart called: "My Top Five Reasons for Learning English." If the students are beginners or pre-intermediates this will be carried out in their mother tongue (keeping the English title, of course) because I want them to feel free and be able to write whatever they want.
When it's finished, I would ask them to carry out a survey to find out which are the Top Five Reasons in the class and, finally, I would encourage a short debate about why they think those are the most "popular" reasons in their group.

(b) I would ask them to read the Seven Rules of Motivation (taken from http://www.motivation-tools.com/elements/seven_rules.htm) and encourage them to discuss if they think they may be useful for improving or helping their learning:

Seven Rules of Motivation

  • Set a major goal, but follow a path. The path has mini goals that go in many directions. When you learn to succeed at mini goals, you will be motivated to challenge grand goals.
  • Finish what you start. A half finished project is of no use to anyone. Quitting is a habit. Develop the habit of finishing self-motivated projects.
  • Socialize with others of similar interest. Mutual support is motivating. To be a cowboy we must associate with cowboys.
  • Learn how to learn. When we learn the art of self-education we will find, if not create, opportunity to find success beyond our wildest dreams. Ask your instructors to provide you with tools to enhace your learning.
  • Harmonize natural talent with interest that motivates. Natural talent creates motivation, motivation creates persistence and persistence gets the job done.
  • Increase knowledge of subjects that inspires. The more we know about a subject, the more we want to learn about it. A self-propelled upward spiral develops.
  • Take risk. Failure and bouncing back are elements of motivation. Failure is a learning tool. No one has ever succeeded at anything worthwhile without a string of failures.

Seven Rules of Motivation - Copyright http://www.motivation-tools.com

I deeply believe that encouraging students to talk about motivation (especially with adolescents and adults who are ready to analyse their objectives and goals in language learning) is an excellent way of showing them that, without their really wanting to do it, without any motivation, attending an English lesson will inevitably become pointless.


  1. Again WOW ale!!! you never cease to amaze me!!! I just loooove the idea of asking sts their top five reasons to learn a language and the seven rules are excellent!!

  2. The "Rules of Motivation" are certainly worth remembering, Alez! Now, what do you think might motivate teens attending high school to study EFL? And how would you face the fact they might just feel "forced" to take the course?

    See you around!

  3. Hi Gla!
    Yes! The rules are very encouraging indeed!
    As regards adolescents, I think that the only way to make them find a reason to speak and understand English, i.e. to "communicate" ;), is to make them realise that it is an excellent bridge towards other worlds which, at the same time, are theirs. I mean, many teenagers enjoy listening to music and watching films in English, so what about teaching them the tool that will help them get in touch with what they like without asking online translators for help? I do believe that adolescents love feeling they can do something on their own and starting to interact with what they look up to (music, singers, rock bands, actors) is an excellent trigger for their wanting to learn English or at least for giving it a try!
    They can find lots of sites on the Net in which they can get in touch with other teens in the world with the same interests.
    It's a huge challenge, I know, but it is worth trying, isn't it?

  4. Hi there!!!

    I totally agree with your view on teens loving the feeling that they can do something on their own and starting to interact with what they look up to. Now, what I am really afraid of is the fact that they may look down on our way of teaching considering that a waste of time (in the end, they "don't go to school" to listen to their favourite band or watch their favourite movies)
    It is a huge challenge for us, to be able to "sell" them our motives for doind that....

    Keep on blogging... really love ur posts....



  5. Yes Yohi! It's a HUGE challenge!
    But I still think that there is always a way out!
    There are hundreds of reasons for learning English so, at least, there should be one that fit our students! ;)