5 Great Ways to Motivate ESL Students

Motivation is the driving force that helps many students reach their goals. Many English as a second language or ESL students have the goal of learning to speak fluently one of the most complicated languages in the world. Part of being their teacher comes with the responsibility to motivate and encourage them to continue learning when the going gets tough. The following are five great ways that you can motivate ESL students.

Track Improvement

It can often be difficult to understand exactly how far you’ve come as an ESL student. Tracking the improvement of your students can help them understand where they were when they first joined the ELS program, and how far they’ve come in learning this difficult language.

Some ways to help students track improvement can include:

  • Making digital recordings of them reading passages in English
  • Charting vocabulary words students learned
  • Charting previous test scores and grades
  • Keeping a record of how many words were learned over a course of a semester or program

Plan a Vacation or Outing

Rewards are a great motivating factor to all students, not just ELS students. Planning a vacation or field trip that requires the students to use their English can be a great motivating factor. Some examples of vacations or field trips that can be motivating factors include trips to famous landmarks, or taking a trip to a fancy restaurant where students need to order in English. Students will want to enjoy themselves on the vacation and will be motivated to learn the language faster, as the field trip or vacation will be a goal they want to reach.

Plan a Family and Friends Presentation Event

Nothing is more rewarding than being able to show your family and friends what you have learned. A great motivating event for ESL students is to plan a presentation or play for family and friends. Not only does this encourage students to learn the language, but it allows them to have fun while learning.

Some suggestions for presentations include:

  • An evening with food and music related to the English language
  • Having students create a play using English
  • Have students create a presentation regarding a favorite topic in English

Reward with a Movie or TV Show in English

Movies and TV shows can be very entertaining, if not addicting. Teachers have found offering their students a chance to view a popular movie or TV in English can help motivate their students to learn the language. In order to understand fully what is going on in the movie or TV show, ESL students will have to use their vocabulary skills. Watching TV shows and movies can also develop a student’s listening skills, and help them develop their translation skills.

Words of Praise

It sounds cliché that words of wisdom can be a huge motivating factor but studies have shown that students who are praised by teachers do better and learn faster than those who don’t receive that praise. Try to praise a student no matter how much their struggling, as it could help motivate them to do better and learn faster.