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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
Motivating Students Motivating students, particularly in a classroom setting can be very challenging as each student brings different backgrounds, cultures, interests, and reasons for deciding to learn english. Many differing personal factors with students can affect their motivation, such as their desire to achieve, self-esteem and self-perception, as well as patience and persistence. This can make it difficult to employ motivational strategies which suit each student’s personality and needs, and can prove to be a challenge for many teachers. The learning environment is critical to how students perceive their lessons and hence learn english. It is important to create a fun, open and relaxed environment in which the class can develop a strong work ethic. If a student feels comfortable in the classroom and is enjoying him/herself then it is going a long way to maintaining their interest and the initial reasons they had for learning english in the first place. By creating an open and positive atmosphere, the class can adopt a culture of being confident and outspoken. This can be a major barrier for ESL students. If the students are feeling positive and confident, then they are more likely to actively participate in the class and in activities which will be encouraging for them. Being a valued member of a learning community can also be very rewarding and give the students a sense of belonging, when they may at times be isolated in their living situation. A large part of creating such an environment is how the teacher presents to the class and interacts with the students. If the teacher is personable, friendly and enthusiastic in class, then it will more than likely make the students feel welcome and valued. It is important for the teacher to display genuine interest in the students – not only in their classroom work and progress but also in their personal lives. The structure of the lessons and how the material is presented can also have an impact on motivation. It is crucial that the work is at a suitable level for the students. Tasks and activities must be achievable and realistic, but at the same time must be challenging and engaging. It is important that the material and work in class stimulates the students, and allows them to put into practice what they are learning in an achievable manner. At the same time is also important that the work progresses throughout the course regularly, so that the material does not become boring or monotonous. Although there are many different dynamics to consider in relation to motivation, they can be managed effectively with frequent re-evaluation. It is important for teachers to give regular positive feedback to the students, to be well organised and present the material clearly and progressively, but to also have the personal qualities which can create a fun and positive learning environment such as energy, enthusiasm, friendliness and genuine interest in the students.