sábado, 2 de julio de 2011



To make students eager to actively participate in the class or to be willing to follow instructions for some activities is what instructors, teachers, and professors have been looking for through the time; however, this has become a very difficult task in the teaching – learning process due to lack of interest in the subject matter, perception of its usefulness, general desire to achieve, self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as patience and persistence. Also, of course, not all students are motivated by the same values, needs, desires, or wants. And even worst, some of the students will be motivated by the approval of others, some by overcoming challenges. Motivation has been a topic related to frustration for some teacher, and a step stone for others. The question, then, is how to overcome these situations in the classroom to be effective as teachers.

Some students seem naturally enthusiastic about learning, but many need-or expect-their instructors to inspire, challenge, and stimulate them: "Effective learning in the classroom depends on the teacher's ability ... to maintain the interest that brought students to the course in the first place" (Ericksen, 1978). Whatever level of motivation your students bring to the classroom will be transformed, for better or worse, by what happens in that classroom. Unfortunately, there is no single magical formula for motivating students.

Let us first define what motivation. Sue Lintern (2002) defines motivation as a desire to achieve a goal, combined with the energy to work towards that goal. Students who are motivated have a desire to undertake their study and complete the requirements of their course. Bruner (1994) defines it as the extent to which you make choices about (a) goals to pursue and (b) the effort you will devote to that pursuit. Gardner and Lambert (1972) introduced the notions of instrumental and integrative motivation. In the context of language learning, instrumental motivation refers to the learner's desire to learn a language for utilitarian purposes (such as employment or travel), whereas integrative motivation refers to the desire to learn a language to integrate successfully into the target language community. In later research studies, Crookes and Schmidt (1991), and Gardner and Tremblay (1994) explored four other motivational orientations: Reason for learning, desire to attain the learning goal, positive attitude toward the learning situation, and effortful behavior.

The term motivation is link to two aspects that interfere or affect the teaching – learning process. One of those aspects is the intrinsic motivation. The main idea of motivation is to capture the student's attention and curiosity and channel their energy towards learning. Intrinsic motivation is motivation from within the student (Lumsden). An intrinsically motivated student studies because he/she wants to study. The material is interesting, challenging and rewarding, and the student receives some kind of satisfaction from learning. On the other hand, extrinsic motivation deals with those extrinsically motivated student studies and learns for other reasons. Such a student performs in order to receive a reward, like graduating or passing a test or getting a new shirt from mom, or to avoid a penalty like a failing grade (Lumsden). This means that when intrinsic motivation is low or absent, extrinsic motivation must be used. Although extrinsic motivation can, and should, be used with intrinsically motivated students, too. If students aren't given a reward or credit for their efforts and no feedback is given to the student, then most students' intrinsic motivation would begin to decrease.

Motivation is the backbone of any classroom. When the students are motivated, the teacher can perform his/her job the best. A teacher can do a lot to improve the students' motivation, and the effort involved is an essential part of the teaching profession. So that, we have to state what sort of activities can be brought to the classroom to motivate those students who lack of it and to keep motivated those students who are already motivated in the classroom.

Motivational Activities in the English Classroom

Teachers can help keep students academically on track at the year's end. Planning classroom activities that keep students interested and involved requires creativity. The end of the school year is challenging for high school teachers on many levels. They need to organize their classrooms, prepare for final exams and plan ahead for next year. Many teachers do not know if they will have the same class preps next year, so determining how to store teaching materials is another concern. Most importantly, however, teachers must devise lesson plans that ensure students continue to learn through the end of the school year.

School can become quite a bore, if students are not able to stretch and move during class. Too often students sit and sit doing work and their work suffers because they are not engaged in the activity anymore. Students of all ages are better learners if they take periodic rests. Energizers, also known as motivational activities, are great ideas for students to rest from their activity or to boost their brain for a new activity. Motivational activities can be used throughout the day and after some practice, it will only take 5-10 minutes to energize the students. Energizers engage all students and are a strategy that fosters cooperation.

Here there is a list of different motivational activities that can be applied in the classroom in order to keep students motivated.


Everyone sits in a circle. The objective is to create rain by copying what the person to their left is doing. Teacher begins rain by slowly rubbing her hands together, the students to her left copies her. Other students only join in once the person to their right has begun the rubbing of their hands together. Teacher changes her sounds and the student to her left responds and students slowly join in.

Rain Sequence

Rubbing hands together back and forth

Snapping fingers

Hand Clapping

Thigh Slapping

Foot Stamping

The teacher reverses the sequence and places her hands in her lap once all sounds are completed. Students follow until all students have their hands in their laps and sitting in silence. After the energizer, the teacher can begin a discussion or mini lesson in the circle.

Make them Laugh

Divide the class into two teams. Teams line up and face a person on the other team. A member from each team walks down the opposing team line. The opposing team members try and make the volunteer smile or laugh. The members in line are not allowed to touch or talk as the volunteer passes by. If the volunteer smiles or laugh they join the opposing team. The game continues until each member on the team is a volunteer. The winner is the team with the most players at the end of the game. Great energizer to use when there is stress in the classroom or students need a break from working.


Divide the students into two or three groups depending on the class size. Each group creates a circle. Students grab two other students in the circle. However, students are not allowed to criss cross, grab a hand of a student on either side of them or grab the hands of only one student. Students must work together to untangle the knot and make a circle.


Students are to think of an animal and must line up in order of size without talking. Students are allowed to make gestures and the sound of the animal to line up. After the students have lined up, go down the line and each student reveals the animal to the class.

Example: mouse-elephant-lion-dog-duck-horse

Students make the sound of the animal and a gesture such as moving one arm and up and down to symbolize an elephant nose or gallops on the spot.

Last Word

Students will create a story by having each student add a sentence in sequence. The only rule is students must use the last word of the previous sentence.


· Last Saturday night I went to a movie with my friends.

· Friends of mine that went were Corey, Justin, and Liam.

· Liam sat at the front of the theatre.

· Theatre Woodbridge is very dirty and smelly.

The story continues until all students have a chance to add. If a student is unable to come up with a sentence they have the option to pass and to join in for the next story.

Ball Toss Brainstorming

Teacher reveals the topic of the day. Teacher throws the ball to a student and the student shouts out something related to the topic. This activity can be used to activate prior knowledge or to check for understanding. The teacher tosses the ball after she has conducted a lesson and students will review the concept.

Semantic Web

Before giving students an academic reading on a topic like the AIDS virus, create a semantic web on the board. This involves writing the word “AIDS” in the center of a circle and then branching out from that with related words connecting to the original word or to each other. So, for example, the word “virus” might connect to “AIDS” and then “communicable” to “virus.” Students call out words they associate with the word “AIDs” or other words connected to it. This is a good way to review or develop vocabulary related to the topic; in addition, at the end students will be primed to read on the topic having gone over related concepts.

Of course there are many other motivational activities which can help us make students more approachable and actively participative; so that, here there is a list of links from which teachers can find very useful activities to bring to the classroom. Remember “Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.” ~William Haley.



Harmer, Jeremy. How to Teach English. Pearson Education, 2006

Lintern, Sue. Template prepared by the Flexible Learning Centre. University of South Australia Disclaimer, September, 2002

Internet Sources


Gardner. Motivation and Second Language Acquisition 1 University of Western Ontario, 2008

DeSpirt, Debbie


Busy Teacher


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