A lack of motivation from students can sap your enthusiasm for work. This problem is found most commonly when students are forced learners; a company rule, or a school requirement means they have to learn English.
Unmotivated students come in a variety of forms, from the lazy ones who would rather sleep/stare blankly into the ether, to those whose motivation takes them in the opposite direction: disruption of other students.
Solving the problem
There are several ways to handle this problem. For one thing, it’s important to recognize that the student may just be lacking in drive on that particular day. Don’t push them too hard if this is the case. If it is a regular problem, though, you will want to address it. Encouragement is a prime motivator. This doesn’t mean being false. Praise them for good work, and help them to find the answers if they’re struggling. A bit of patience and attention from you can increase their desire to learn.
Failing that, get out the old GMTV Mr. Motivator tapes.
Dimitrios Thanasoulas identified some key issues surrounding the topic of motivation in an essay published on TEFL.net. The essay is well worth a read, but in summary it pointed out the need to create a motivational classroom atmosphere. “Appropriate teacher behaviour and good teacher-student rapport” is essential in the quest to create the right classroom conditions. This means being enthusiastic, trustworthy and respectful of the students.
Once this has been established, it is a matter of maintaining and increasing the motivation levels. How can this be done? Confidence is linked to motivation on many levels. A student will feel empowered if they are confident in their English ability, which leads to learner autonomy. In this case, the student will feel responsible for his or her own development and will be motivated to study more.
The English classroom
Teaching English as a Foreign Language presents a special challenge in this regard as you have both language and cultural barriers between you and your students (this can create be either a hindrance or generate rapport depending on various other factors). Try putting the above tips into practice, though, and you are sure to see an increase in motivation.