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Unveiling the Motivation Map

Unveiling the Motivation Map

Motivation is a pivotal force in every aspect of life, whether in daily activities or in an educational setting. It is this power that fuels our every step towards achieving our goals, driving us to go extra mile along the way.

Normally, when adult learners are just starting their learning journey, they share their aspirations and reasons for studying the language. These often include career advancement, travel, exam preparations, and relocation abroad among other goals. Frankly, I rarely delved into the specifics of their plans. Initially, this kept my students engaged, but as they progressed, I noticed a decline in their motivation, like lack of interest, missed classes, or postponed studies.

Through observation, experience, continuous training, and insightful conversations with colleagues, I've come up with some strategies educators can employ to not only sustain motivation but also nurture its growth.

1. Setting Achievable Milestones

Breaking down the language learning journey into attainable steps provides learners with a clear roadmap. Defining timelines towards each milestone allows them to plan their study routines, make necessary life arrangements, and shape their study plans by the end of the course.

For example, with beginner-level students, we use a timeline in their notebooks, marking a two-month period with a flag. Withing this timeline, we use spots which mean some significant accomplishments: mastering basic vocabulary for self-introduction, practicing introductions with notes, and finally, being able to confidently introduce oneself without relying on any notes. These little breakdowns help them track their achievements and feel proud.

2. Celebrating Progress

Each completed lesson marks a milestone. I seize these moments to recap their achievements and encourage celebration when they master specific skills—whether expressing themselves fluently using various tenses, mastering nuanced vocabulary, or structuring essays. For instance, a fun and motivating activity might involve a word bank challenge. Learners create flashcards showcasing the vocabulary that they have learned. Then they engage in a game where they explain the meaning of these words, or write some sentences using these words. I offer specific and personalized praise to each student, recognizing their achievements. Acknowledging their successes and praising them fuels their inspiration to conquer new heights.

For more insights, dive into this blog on 6 Strategies to Build Student Engagement.

3. Providing Meaningful Feedback

Crafting meaningful feedback is akin to holding a key to unlocking students' full potential. Relying on teacher’s feedback, students can perceive it not only as a source for areas needing improvement, but also as a means of reflection and motivation when encountering positive comments about skills they master well. I take into account learners’ levels and preferences when receiving comments, and then I tailor my feedback according to their needs.

To explore fresh ideas and hone new skills, take a look at this blog about 10 Key Factors on Delivering Effective Feedback on Students’ Speaking.

4. Embracing Authentic Resources

While classroom learning holds its value, integrating authentic podcasts, TED talks, or reading materials enriches the language exploration journey. I study German, and what comes from my experience, there is an undeniable thrill in delving into local newspapers or watching news broadcasts in German. Not only does it ignite my interest, but also evokes a sense of nearing fluency, bringing me closer to achieving my goals.

5. Returning to Initial Goals

In addition to understanding my learners' individual goals, I actively engage in discussions about their aspirations with them. Reminding students that by dedicating themselves to language study, completing courses, and consistent practice, they're not only achieving goals but also drawing closer to their dreams. For example, discussing their long-term goals and envisioning how the language can help in their journey helps them visualize their dreams. This serves as a tuning mechanism for their motivation.

In cultivating learners’ motivation, teachers pave the way to not only master a language but to embrace it as a tool to achieve their dreams. By employing tailored strategies, the journey of language learning becomes a source for personal growth and goal realization.