Commentary on motivation and the modalities of online or distance education – homework for april 12

As we have been seeing and working on motivation in class I would like to summarize briefly my thoughts:

Motivation is the key concept for an outworking education in my opinion. Thinking about why to learn a language and what to learn about it, everything has to do with motivation. It’s a central pattern in education in general and forgotten by several teachers. Perhaps I could begin talking a bit about my own situation here in the university, where I’m employeed to teach students in language learning and over and over could notice the importance of motivation. This inner movement that you cannot (always) see in the person’s face; that’s something to do with the intrinsic and extrinsic factors of influence.

For me it was quite important to read about the pedagogical concepts concerning several steps to increase a student’s motivation that are mentioned by Dörnyei (compare anthology page 63) as:

– Set a personal example with your own behaviour

– Create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in the classroom

– Present the task properly

– Develop a good relationship with the learners

– Increase the learners’ linguistic self-confidence

– Make the language classes interesting

– Promote learner autonomy

– Personalize the learning process

– Increase the learners’ goal-orientedness

– Familiarize learners with the target language culture

All these 10 statements are essential in motivating language learners – nevertheless I want to have a closer look at only some of them, as there are: create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in the classroom where anybody can feel comfortable, respected and able to think and express his/her thoughts without any fear of disrespect from any other classmate or the teacher.

More over, to be able to answer to certain tasks teachers have to get trained in presenting the task properly to be able to increase the learners’ goal-orientedness that is to say there way of setting themselves goals. Moreover what Dörnyei mentions about task presentation and its impact on the fulfilment by setting realistic goals and offering effective strategies to the students is understandable but has to be repeated again and again I think, as many times students don’t understand what to do or what for to do it.

When learners then take responsibility for their own learning and learn how to collaborate with other students in cooperative groups, then autonomous learning is being created. Autonomous in the way that students motivate one another meanwhile the teacher “just” facilitates or problematizes so that they can work together.

Every lesson could end up with a small feedback-round in which every student – who wants to – could comment the ongoing during that class and perhaps note down in his/her portfolio the themes he/she didn’t liked, would have changed or could try to do in another way next time as well as underline the good elements during class time that he/she would like to work on or with in further classes.

For sure this takes time and perhaps won’t be possible after each class (well, I’m not so sure about this point; probably you can manage to do it after every session, just need to organize yourself and the class) but anyway could be applied after every second or third day of classes. Students then feel that their opinion is important for the class and the way or direction classes will take.

Some students could even feel better in distance or blended education and could get their motivation risen up even more by getting feedback from persons not present in his face to face group but commenting his productions on the internet e.g. on a blog or a forum.

According to me these modalities provide useful learning experiences, as they realize productive learning skills in online education and could also be mixed up like seen in blended education where students are engaged in distance education as well as in face to face classes which for me seems a great opportunity to give them. Then it’s up to them to feel free to access different materials offered in the www and afterwards exchange ideas with his classmates or group members face to face.

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