Motivation in ESL/EFL Learning: Who’s Responsible?

Dipesh Kumar Sah

“Motivation- do we need it for effective language teaching?” has become common talk among the teachers worldwide. But potential ways for motivating English language learners vary in the perspectives of the teachers. However, effective strategies and local EFL contexts are also responsible for determining the potential ways of motivation

Motivation in second or additional language (L2) learning is generally defined as learners’ cumulative interests, feelings, and desires which dynamically keep changing throughout the teaching/learning process in relation with a multitude or internal and external factors.Such cumulative trait not only initiates and coordinates the cognitive and motor processes but also assesses, reshapes, and prioritizes initial wishes and desires that drive learners to acquire an L2. In other words, motivation is comprised of the thoughts and feelings that make us to do something, continue and turn our wishes into action as an influence.

Now I would like to share with ELT community how I have used the warming up strategy for teaching English language to my students.I encourage my students to regularly contribute to maintain the display board with some latest events, news, welcome-notes, birthday wishes, humors, short stories and so on. Additionally, I make use of web-based resources to get them concentrated on the content that we deal with in the classroom. For example, I let my students watch class related Ted’s inspirational videos (see they find much more inspiring and that way they are finally motivated for learning the lesson I planned to teach.

In our context, motivation needs to be created and once created needs to be continued too. If not, the learners become silent and show no interests to learn a particular language. But they may feel so interested when the classes are held in the language of their interest. The circumstances of higher classes in some remote areas of Nepal show that the learners completely abide by strict rules set by their instructors. Besides, the teachers are involved in practicing lecture method and developing the note taking system where students have to listen to them and write the notes as if in dictation. Students often feel frightened to learn English, for they argue that they cannot practice autonomy in the English classroom in comparison with other subjects.Besides, the lack of purpose and thus motivation is one of the reasons. Hence, proper motivation and promotion of learners’ autonomy could be the solution to the hesitation for learning English.

Learners’ motivation is affected by numerous endogenous and exogenous factors. Endogenous factors bring pleasure and satisfaction to students and can be the internal inspiration for them. On the other hand, exogenous factors relate to the tangible benefits of an activity such as the role of knowledge gained by learning a language that is required for the communication and for higher education in national and international universities, as well as professional and socio-cultural circumstances. I believe in making learners enjoy the classroom, for which learners’ motivation is crucial. To promote learners autonomy, interactive activities like role-play, pair work, and group work can become good icebreakers to overcome the classroom drudgery. It is also important to appreciate learners’ effort and the feeling. The abstract nature of motivation makes difficulties for classroom practitioners to gauge learner motivation by using a measurable instrument; therefore, practitioners/teachers can rely on their critical observations about learners’ motivational patterns during the course of an academic program. It is the fact about language teaching that motivation of language learners fluctuates and practitioners need to factor awareness of this reality into all curricular stages.

Learners’ autonomy, an intriguing phenomenon for the motivational part and one’s ability to decide the laws for oneself, is inevitable in all stages of learning. The learners really need a motivational strategy that lets them play with English in the environment.

Here comes the question: who is responsible for learners’ motivation? You may have different answers that may not concur with mine. I strongly argue that it is the teacher who is solely responsible for creating motivation in the classroom. I think that the work of a teacher is complete only if the students are able to acquire knowledge that is applicable in the real contexts. And it is only possible when the learners are interested to learn and teachers are successful in motivating them.

The concept of motivation derived from ‘movere’, a Latin word,means‘to move’. Therefore, the idea of movement is reflected in different commonsense ideas about motivation as something that keeps us working, gets us going, and helps us complete tasks. It is a process rather than a product. Therefore, we cannot observe it directly but we can infer it from actions and verbalization  The interactive methodology gives the students a supportive environment for effective learning.The purpose of sharing this blog entry is to suggest teachers like me to focus on the learners’ motivations and feelings as well as the course contents together so that students’engagement gets better. We should respect the feeling of the learners and try to know their psyche before they are given any tasks in the classroom. This provides untrue insights to learn the ways to motivate the learners.

The author, an M. Ed. in English from TU, Nepal is working at Tinpatan Education Campus, Sindhuli. Besides being a member of NELTA, he is currently involved in carrying out a research on Inclusive Education under the guidance of University Grant Commission.


2 thoughts on “Motivation in ESL/EFL Learning: Who’s Responsible?

  1. Obviously, it is the teacher who has sole responsibility for learners’ motivation. The article has presented the importance of motivation in language teaching and learning in an effective way based on how the author has been practising it at his college. It is said, “well-begun is half done”, similarly when the teachers begin teaching language with proper motivation to the learners, the teaching and learning activities become effective. Therefore, the teachers need to design appropriate strategies, tools and techniques for creating motivation in the class as it plays a significant role in an ELT classroom.

    I could just recall a teacher’s motivational activity during my studies at masters’ level in Birgunj. I do not know if he did the activity for the purpose of motivation but I realised he did that for the same. What he did was that he wrote a thought of the day on the board before he began teaching the lesson. The thought we felt was motivational in itself and also inspiring. In this way, we were motivated to learn in the classroom. It was his own style of motivating the learners. Why I shared this fact with you all is to reveal that every individual has their own distinctive capacities. Here they need to explore and translate them into action for motivation purpose with content and context friendly activities. The creativity of the teachers also helps them a lot to develop such tasks that can enhance motivation in the language classroom. That is to say, more creative teachers, more effective their motivational activities.

  2. Thank you Praveen sir for your good compliment.Thank you once again to declare the context the teachers who are facing the challenges in rural areas to get the resources of the motivational aspects. Anyway, motivational aspect is the inevitable part for an effective teacher. I just tried to explain my experience and context I am facing with my students in the classroom. I promise that I will have a good research on the this topic in future and I am planning a workshop during the upcoming NELTA International Conference 2013

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *