Author Topic: Motivating students through their interests and hobbies  (Read 700 times)

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Offline Emily Doehring

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Motivating students through their interests and hobbies
« on: April 25, 2017, 02:59:23 PM »
Student motivation
Motivating students can be hard, especially if they aren’t interested in the subject you are teaching. Looking back at my own experiences as I student, many of the teachers that I found to be the most motivating in college paid attention to the students’ personal interests and tried to incorporate those interests into class.


Get your students excited about learning English by asking them about their favorite movie, book, video game, sport, hobby, celebrity, musician, etc. Some might feel that it’s a little “unproductive” to spend class time talking about entertainment, but if gets your students to enjoy speaking/listening/writing/reading in English, not only will they have more fun, but perhaps they will be more likely to pursue those interests in English outside of class on their own in the future.
For example, suppose your students are all big music fans. Try to figure out what kind of music the majority of your class likes and find a English couple of artists or songs that might interest your students and play them in class. Showing them a popular English-speaking musician is also a good route. Just make sure that what you show them is classroom/age/level appropriate! Also, if you can find a song that features some of the vocabulary, grammar, or culture points that you are currently studying, this can help remind students that what they are learning can be useful.
Continuing with the music theme, have your students read an article about a popular English song or musician. Discuss the article together, and have your students go home and write you a short article about their favorite singer/musician based on the format of the class reading. If motivation is your main goal, give them as much creative freedom as you can without sacrificing structure too much, so they can really explore what interests them.
Depending on your students, you can alter this activity to be about literature, film, sports, or whatever hobbies your class is into. No matter how you alter these activity suggestions, just remember that the main goal is to show your students that learning English is worth their time and can even be fun by exposing them to English content that truly interests them.

Offline Emily Doehring

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Re: Motivating students through their interests and hobbies
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2017, 03:09:30 PM »
The activity suggestions above were mostly reading, writing, or listening-based, but you can motivate your students to speak in English more too! For the extroverts in your class, try finding them a language exchange group, if such a group exists at your school or in your community. Your quieter and shyer students might be more interested in a one-on-one language exchange partner.[/size] This might be more difficult in an EFL context where L1 English speakers may be harder to come by, but at the very least, always be available and willing to speak to your students in English outside of class. Make sure your students know your office hours and that you would be delighted if they ever wanted to stop by and practice a little English. [/size]As a language learner myself, one of the most rewarding and motivating things I can do is to actually use my language knowledge to communicate with real native speakers, and I've seen my foreign language abilities grow exponentially by just setting up weekly meetings with a teacher or with friends who speak the target language.


Offline Nathaniel Anleitner

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Re: Motivating students through their interests and hobbies
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2017, 12:22:05 AM »
Hey Emily,


I couldn't agree with you more. One of my favorite lessons in a high school foreign language class incorporated a song that really put the grammar point on center stage. However, I think that if you want to incorporate a song into a lesson to reinforce a grammar point, a handout with the lyrics really help for a number of reasons. Personally, I even find understanding lyrics in my native language tough, and for people like me, it can only become more difficult when trying to understand lyrics in a foreign language. Additionally, it lets the students know where the grammar point is in the song, so they know when it is coming up and not miss it.


I think being able to talk about pop-culture is an important skill to have in a foreign language- one of the first things you ask someone when you're getting to know them is their favorite movies, music genres, etc. Additionally, talking about your interests can be very intrinsically motivated, and I think intrinsically motivating students to use the material is one of the most powerful things a teacher can do.