By Laura Guzmán León - Master’s Program in English Language Teaching
During times of uncertainty, like the ones we are experiencing now with COVID-19, it is difficult to know if my students are enough motivated to learn English in my classes. As a teacher, I prepare my lessons having in mind the importance of motivating my students to learn and practice English. I bring to my classes activities that can benefit them independently of their learning styles, I helm them practice the four basic language skills, and I develop in them critical thinking strategies. In Murdoch University, Morcom (2005) conducted a study that revealed how, through motivation, a teacher empowered her students to learn English, and how they participated more actively and responsibly in that process. Motivation has become, for me, like the pieces in a chess set that I can move to conquer the king which represents my students’ second language acquisition. There are several ways in which we the teachers can become assertive chess players by moving the correct motivational pieces.
More than in any other time in the history of education, today, our students need to be motivated to complete their tasks and to participate in the class. Sometimes their attitude toward learning, or at least what we can perceive, tell us about their needs and thoughts. This information, gathered in tiny pieces, should be enough for us to take action and start moving the pieces of our chess. Creating a motivating classroom atmosphere should be any teacher’s goal number one; this will guaranty us the confidence our students need to perform from creating with the language, and asking questions to laugh and share their heart. Dörnyei (2007) stated that the class environment benefits the relationships between all participants, and the quality of teaching and learning is determined by this environment. Teachers should pay attention to these factors to decide how to play an intelligent game in benefit of their students.
There are, of course, several other aspects to take into consideration in terms of the role of teachers in the classroom when teaching a second language. Some participants of the educational system argue that, for learners to be successful, it is necessary to follow a good curriculum, others support the idea of the use of appropriate textbooks and materials to teach the class. Many educators consider imperative the use of technology while teaching English, along with a correct approach to teach the language. I can keep mentioning argument over argument; nevertheless, motivation will never be diminished because it is definitely the key element for our students’ success in the acquisition of the second language.
To conclude, as a good chess player I have decided to continue moving the pieces of motivation in my class, specially under this pandemic, because it is the best way in which I can help my students to conquer the acquisition of the English language. Our students only have us, the teachers, to move these pieces. Research proves that motivation is a key factor in the learning process. In their study, Phithakmethakun & Chinokul (2020) reflected on the fact that teachers who involved their students in every aspect of the classroom motivated them and students appreciated it. I want to ignite motivation in different ways moving the correct pieces. How about you?
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