MOTIVATING ESL STUDENTS
Most of my work as a teacher involves inspiring interest in the subject for my students. I find it really helpful to tell stories to them. At the beginning of my class, I try to describe the settings and later make use of characters they feel identified with. The contents I must teach are included in this story- telling approach. I try to develop ideas and ask my students for more details, depending on the story plot. After I tell the ending, I give instructions for next day's homework so my students are supposed to collect similar information based on their own research. When they learn the most is when they have the chance to choose one of some given topics and work on a presentation that can be discussed in front of the class. It is important to make use of their creativity and let them have some fun.
An example of a motivational class I've recently worked on, is this one:
1) Elicit vocabulary related to local EDUCATION
2)Advantages and disadvantages of different local teaching styles.
3) Story telling: Kathy´s Experiences on an" EXCHANGE STUDENT PROGRAM: A foreign student in UK". I tell her story and show images about this girl from Chile who decided to go on an exchange student program and studied in a British High School for some months.
4) Difficulties Kathy had to go through? Dissapointments?.
5) Achievements in her new school.
6) Social Life and Roommates activities.
7) Conclusions: Education is different in UK.
8) Homework: Research on one of the following topics: Distance Learning-Studying abroad - Outdoors learning - Online learning -Multiage classes - Homeschooling, etc.../ Power Point Presentation based on a similar story.
Nowadays students need to learn by doing, be able to show how creative they can be, and share their thoughts at the same time they are practicing the new language. But, in order to create an appropriate environment in class, teachers need to have the greatest quality and that is empathy, I mean create a bond with his students. Once students open up, they will show a better attitude towards learning.
The teacher must be strong enough and show a smile on his face all the time; positiveness and mental control is mandatory if you have groups that show attitudinal and behavioral problems. A teacher's attitude is contagious, so it's necessary to see the bright side, even in tough situations.
In order to have a motivational effect it is relevant to have the ability to keep your students focused and interested during classes. We inspire by using emotion, passion, visual contact, body language, students must know you are doing your job because you love what you do. Classes must be well prepared in advance and your talk must be convincing.
All this work is necessary because our students deserve respect, we should treat them as intelligent individuals. We have to make no difference in color, race, religion, etc... On the other hand, we have to understand their differences on learning styles, apply different strategies and let them be creative.
In conclusion, I realize that it's easy to say but hard to be done: we need to overcome our thoughts. We tend to judge or put our thoughts first, we easily turn upset about some students attitudes, therefore it's necessary to be mature enough and see what is behind that bad behavior to understand what the student is trying to say.
Our profession is really powerful, our words and example could mean helping those students realize their full potential and make a positive change, or stay the same way believing ours was just another boring class.