Kamil Rams, 2018-02-19
Stary Sącz

Język angielski, Artykuły

The role of motivation in grammar teaching to adolescents

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The role of motivation in a whole teaching process is extremely vital as it may bring a lot of beneficial experiences for a group of teenagers, who share their enthusiasm and energy, and for teachers who are responsible for creation of a proper atmosphere in the classroom.
Motivation is probably the most changeable aspect of learning a second language. The theory of motivation in the second language learning was widely discussed being dominated once by goal-oriented learning. In order to achieve certain goals, students were classified as integratively- or intrumentally-oriented (Gardner and Lambert, 1972). However, throughout the years, the idea of motivation for second language competence has changed as it can be explained as an active pursuit of certain kinds of cultural, linguistic, professional and personal identities.
In the first part of this article, I would like to present definitions of what motivation is.
Pardee (1990) describes motivation as the reason for people’s actions, desires, and needs. Motivation is also one’s direction to behaviour, or what makes a person repeat particular behaviour. A motive is what prompts the person to act in a certain way, or at least develops an inclination for specific behaviour.
Another important aspect is to know how motivation works, which, according to Szałek (1992) develops in students’ minds as a desirable chain reaction:
motivation => stirring up positive emotions => organism stimulation => heighten mind’s activity => acceleration and streamline of a language acquisition process
Pfeiffer (2001) notices that motivational processes bring a lot of positive points. Their central matters are curiosity and arousal of learners’ interest. These two factors are basic elements in stimulating and sustaining intellectual students’ activity in a natural way. In order to work and operate consciously, our organisms should be stimulated. Stimulation brings ready to work, increases perceptive processes and eases better memorizing.
Komorowska (2005) claims that it is hard for adolescents to grow fond of the subject they learn if it is taught by a disliked person. Motivation, here, results not only from the teacher’s personality but largely from his/her language competence. It is also important for young learners to have a teacher who is fair and honest.
Teachers’ role is to apply a variety of exercises of presenting material, mostly grammar because for students at that age a foreign language is not something new. They have been learning this subject for a few years when they enter a junior high school or high school and they can become a little bit bored with the fact that they keep studying it and there is more and more material to be learnt.
It is a difficult task to motivate teenagers because of their desire to show their autonomy. Adolescents are quite insubordinate for any orders which makes the whole teaching process much more difficult. It is the time when they try to impress others, show their own opinion without listening to other ones. It is the reason why some kind of rules need to be applied for this group of learners. They would know what they can and cannot do and, of course, what punishment for breaking this ‘law’ will be taken. It is a code of conduct described properly and widely by methodologists.
A willingness to discover something new would be also a motivating factor. Students who want to visit other countries or some who are interested in getting to know different cultures will find it necessary to learn a foreign language to communicate around the world. English has become a ‘universal’ language in the world. The hardest task would be to arouse students’ interest and present the material in such an interesting and encouraging way that would be motivating for young learners.
Each student is different. There are ones who like to have grammar presented in a traditional lecture-like way, while the others prefer something which brings fun, where an occasion to spend time both interestingly and usefully is. That is why, teachers ought to find a golden mean, a proper solution for everyone. One of the solutions would be a variety of exercises which are for everyone with different kinds of intelligence (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinaesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic). Such tasks need to be mixed and not monotonous. Only then, there is a chance that adolescent students will have more satisfaction and definitely their interest will be aroused.
You can succeed only being motivated. Definitely, not only a student should be motivated but a teacher as well of course. An opposite attitude cannot help students to be responsible and inspired learners. What is more, it can only damage the whole teaching process as a student does not see any guiding light then.


Gardner, R.C. & Lambert, W.E. (1972). Motivational variables in second language acquisition. In R.C. Gardner & W. Lambert (eds.) “Attitudes and motivation in second language learning.” Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
Komorowska, H. (2005) Metodyka nauczania języków obcych. Warszawa: Fraszka Edukacyjna
Pardee, R. L. (1990). Motivation Theories of Maslow, Herzberg, McGregor & McClelland. A Literature Review of Selected Theories Dealing with Job Satisfaction and Motivation.
Pfeiffer, W. (2001) Nauka języków obcych. Od praktyki do praktyki. Poznań: Wagros
Szałek, M. (1992) Sposoby podnoszenia motywacji na lekcjach języka obcego. Poznań
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