Motivation and motivating in the foreign
This chapter will… .
; summarise the main motivational areas where the 1
conscious enhancement of student motivation is a
realistic option and outline the strategic arsenal F
available for language teachers; r
; present three sets of ‘motivatonal o
macro-strategies’, that is, collections of general m
guidelines to provide orientation when
introducing a motivation-sensitive teaching t
With motivation being as important a factor in learning success as o
argued earlier, teacher skills in motivating learners should be seen as rcentral to teaching effectiveness. Evident though this statement may be, ythe current state of L2 motivation research does not bear witness to it. In Keller’s (1983) words, motivation is the ‘neglected heart’ of our aunderstanding of how to design instruction. Although the neducation-oriented publications in the 1990s were helpful in that they dprovided taxonomies of relevant classroom-specific motives, they did not offer a sufficiently serviceable guide to practitioners because the rproposed lists of motives themselves were not readily applicable. What eteachers usually wish to know is how they can intervene, that is, what sthey can actually do to motivate their learners. In other words, for eclassroom practitioners the real area of interest is not so much the anature of ‘motivation’ itself as the various techniques or strategies rthat can be c employed to students. motivateh
The purpose of motivational strategies is consciously to generate and enhance student motivation, as well as maintain ongoing motivated tbehaviour and protect it from distracting and/or competing action otendencies. That is, such strategies are used to increase student involvement and to ‘save’ the action when ongoing monitoring creveals that progress is slowing, halting, or backsliding. In this chapter I lwill first discuss the nature and scope of motivational strategies in ageneral, and then present a taxonomy that can serve as an sorganisational framework for the numerous and diverse strategies in squestion. The chapter will be concluded by the description of r
ethree different sets of motivational macrostrategies—that is, collections
gof general motivational guidelines aimed at raising teacher awareness
iabout how to introduce a more motivaton-sensitive teaching approach ein one’s practice. Although I will include many concrete practical sexamples throughout the chapter, the intention is not to create a , ‘recipe book’ here but rather to illustrate the wide scope of Pmotivational techniques that teachers can use to enhance their ilearners’ commitment, effort and persistence. n
i5.1 Motivational techniques, strategies and cmacrostrategies h In a review of studies examining beginning teachers’perceptions of aproblems they face, Veenman (1984) found that teachers ranked nproblems about motivating pupils as the second most serious source dof difficulty (the first being maintaining classroom discipline), preceding other obviously important issues such as the effective use Sof different teaching methods, a knowledge of the subject matter and cthe effective use of textbooks and curriculum guides. The question of hhow student motivation can be increased remains a prevailing issue ufor seasoned practitioners as well, since student lethargy and non- nachievement norms (or ‘norms of mediocrity’) in the classroom kare regularly reported to be basic hindrances to effective teaching ’(Daniels, 1994). sIn the light of this, it is hard to believe that until the mid-1990s there had been no serious attempts in the L2 literature to design motivational (strategies for classroom application. Since the educational shift in L2 1motivation research in the first half of the 1990s, a growing number of 9publications have described motivational techniques (e.g. Alison, 1993; 9Brown, 1994; Chambers, 1999; Cranmer, 1996; Dörnyei, 1994a; 6Dörnyei and Csizér, 1998; Oxford and Shearin, 1994; Williams and ) Burden, 1997), but the amount of research devoted to the question of amotivating learners remains rather meager relative to the total amount uof research on L2 motivation. tIf we look at general motivational psychology, the same tendency can hbe noted: far more research has been done in the past to identify ovarious motives and validate motivational theories than to develop rtechniques to increase motivation. There have, however, been some ivaluable exceptions to this generalisation; examples include Brophy t(1987), Burden (1995), Galloway et al. (1998), Good and Brophy (1994), aJones and Jones (1995), McCombs (1994), Raffini (1993,1996) and tWlodkowski (1986)?three particularly noteworthy works in this vein are iBrophy’s (1998)comprehensive summary of research on motivational v
MO T I VAT I O N AND L AN G UAG E T EAC H I NG
of motivation in education with practical recommendations, and a summary of how to motivate the hard-to-reach students by McMcombs and Pope (1994), sponsored by the American Psychological Association.
There is one common feature of most motivational approaches both in the L2 field and in educational
psychology: they are based on the idealistic belief that ‘all
students are motivated to learn under the right conditions, and that you can provide these conditions in your classroom’ (McCombs and Pope, 1994: vii). This
assumption is, at best, arguable and, at worst, naïve.
Realistically, it is highly unlikely that everybody can be motivated to learn anything. Yet, our belief is that most
students’ motivation can be ‘worked on’ and increased.
Although rewards and punishments are too often the only tools present in the motivational arsenal of many teachers, the spectrum of other potentially more effective motivational strategies is so broad that it is hard to imagine that none of them would work. The following taxonomy of motivational strategies is intended to demonstrate the variety of different ways by which human achievement behaviour can be promoted, and the subsequent discussion of broader motivational macrostrategies will hopeful help to prioritise within the diversity of specific techniques and procedures.
Good and Brophy on motivational strategies in
Skill in motivating students to learn is basic to teachers’
effectiveness. Like classroom management, however,
motivation did not receive such scholarly attention until recently, so that teachers were forced to rely on
unsystematic ‘bag-of-tricks’ approaches or on advice
coming from questionable theorising. Much of the latter advice was based on one of two contradictory yet frequently expressed views that are both incorrect at least in their extreme form. The first view is that learning should be fun and that motivation problems appear because the teacher somehow has converted an inherently enjoyable activity to drudgery. We believe that students should find academic activities meaningful and worthwhile, but not fun in the same sense that recreational games and pastimes are fun. The other extreme view is that school activities are necessarily boring, unrewarding, and even aversive, so that we must rely on extrinsic rewards and punishments in order
to force students to engage in these unpleasant tasks.
Good and Brophy (1994?212)
MO T I VAT I O N I N P RAC T I C E : S T R A T E GI E S A ND A P P R O A C HE S 107
5.2 A framework for motivational strategies
The central question in designing a practical framework of motivational strategies is to decide how to organise the long list of relevant motivational techniques into separate ‘themes’. The
following taxonomy is based on the
process-oriented model by Dörnyei and Ottó (1998) (3.8). This model
offers an important advantage over other potential organising principles, namely comprehensiveness. Following through the motivational process from the initial arousal of the motivation to the completion and evaluation of the motivated action seems more reasonable than making somewhat arbitrary decisions about selecting certain central themes and building the material around them. The key units in this
process-oriented organisation include:
? Creating the basic motivational conditions, which involves setting the
scene for the effective use of motivational strategies. ? Generating student motivation, corresponding roughly to the preac-
tional phase in the model.
? Maintaining and protecting motivation, corresponding to the actional
? Encouraging positive self-evaluation, corresponding to the postactional
5.2.1 Creating the basic motivational conditions
Motivational strategies cannot be employed successfully in a ‘motivational
vacuum’—certain preconditions must be in place before any further attempts
to generate motivation can be effective. The most important of these motivational conditions are:
? appropriate teacher behaviours and a good relationship
? a pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom; ? a cohesive learner group with appropriate group norms.
Although these three conditions are not independent of each other
since they collectively mould the psychological environment in which
learning takes place, it is useful to discuss teacher behaviour,
classroom climate and learner group separately.
MO T I VAT I O N I N P RAC T I C E : S T R A T E GI E S A ND A P P R O A C HE S
Appropriate teacher behaviours and a good relationship
with the students
It was argued in 2.2.3 and 3.6.5 that teachers play a significant role in
socialising and shaping the motivation of their students through their
? personal characteristics
? verbal and non-verbal ‘immediacy’ behaviour
? active motivational socialising behaviour
? classroom management practices.
Indeed, almost everything a teacher does in the classroom has a
motivational influence on students, which makes teacher behaviour a
powerful ‘motivational tool’. This has been confirmed by Dörnyei and
Csizér’s (1998) study of 200 Hungarian teachers of English, in which the
participant teachers rated their own behaviour as the most important
and, at the same time, extremely underutilised, motivational factor in the
classroom. Chambers’s (1999) study examined a very different
population – British secondary school learners of German – and came
to the same conclusion: of all the factors that were hypothesised to
contribute to pupils’ positive or negative appraisal of L2 learning, the
teacher came out on top for all cohorts surveyed.
Motivational teacher influences are manifold, ranging from the
rapport with the students to specific teacher behaviours which
‘persuade’and/or ‘attract’students to engage in on-task behaviours. A
key element is to establish relationships of mutual trust and respect with the learners (Alison, 1993). This involves finding opportunities to talk with them on a personal level and letting them know that we have thought about them and that their individual effort is recognised. Another factor which many believe to be the most important ingredient of motivationally successful teaching is enthusiasm (for more details, see 7.2.2). Students take cues from their teachers about how to respond to school activities. Enthusiastic teachers convey a great sense of commitment to and excitement about the subject matter content, not only in words but also by body language.
MO T Example 5.1 Strategy IModel student interest in L2 learning by? VA? Show students that you value L2 learning as a meaningful T experience Ithat produces satisfaction and enriches your life. O? sharing your own personal interest in L2 and L2 learning with the N students; I ? taking the students’ learning process and achievement very N seriously (since showing insufficient commitment yourself if P the RAfastest way to undermine student motivation). C T Source?Dörnyei I(1994a?282) C E : SA pleasant and supportive atmosphere in the classroom T This condition requires little justification. Any practising teacher Rwill be aware of the fact that student anxiety created by a tense Aclassroom climate is one of the most potent factors that Tundermine learning effectiveness and L2 motivation (e.g. MacIntyre, 1999?Young, 1999). Learner involvement will be E highest in a psychologically safe classroom climate in which Gstudents are encouraged to express their opinions and in which I they feel that Ethey are protected from ridicule and embarrassment. S Quote 5.2 Good and Brophy on the classroom environment A and Nthe teacher D ATo be motivated to learn, students need both ample opportunities to learn and steady encouragement and support of their learning P efforts. Because such motivation is unlikely to develop in a chaotic P classroom, it is important that the teacher organise and manage the Rclassroom as an effective learning environment. Furthermore, because anxious or alienated students are likely to develop O motivation to learn, it is important that learning occurs within a Arelaxed and supportive atmosphere. The teacher should be a patient, Cencouraging person who supports students’ learning efforts. Students should feel comfortable taking intellectual risks because
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A cohesive learner group with appropriate grou
A cohesive learner group with appropriate group norms The third basic condition concerns the composition and internal struc- ture of the learner group and the developing norm system that governs group behaviour in general. We have seen in 2.2.3 and 3.6.5 that group characteristics have important motivational bearings, and central to these characteristics is the level of cohesiveness among the class mem-
bers. Indeed, fragmented groups, characterised by uncooperative cliques, can easily become ineffective, thus diminishing the individual member’s commitment to learn. There are several factors that promote