Motivating children to learn English

Autor: prof. Nistora Agneta
Colegiul Tehnic de Construcții și Protecția Mediului Arad

Unlike adults, children are not self-motivated and do not have an immediate need to learn English. They are not concerned with jobs or university degrees that require knowledge of English. Their world is their daily games and events of interest to them. Children communicate their needs and experiences and they receive new knowledge in their mother tongue, therefore the teacher of English has the task of finding ways to motivate them. Some ways of motivating children to learn English are briefly considered next.

1.Informal relaxed atmosphere
It is suggested that the English classroom reflect the target culture as closely as possible through pictures, maps, an English langusge bulletin board and a small library. It should also contain artifacts and pictures from the local culture that blend well with the target culture. A balanced representation of the two cultures encourages the learners to accept the culture associated with the target culture while retaining a sense of pride in their own.
2.Topics and language functions
The material used for teaching children should draw from their world: their home and school. Also part of the children’s world is the world created by their imagination. The topics used must be linked to the children’s interests and experiences. Using familiar topics minimizes the difficulties associated with the task of presenting language use in the classroom and facilitates the linking of the child’s school experience to the outside world. Situations created in the classroom need to be authentic and interesting to the children.
3.Learning through activities, games and songs
Teaching must be planned in such a way that learning becomes an interesting and even entertaining process. Songs, storytelling, the drawing of maps and pictures, puzzles, games may be used to make the English lesson interesting. The children’s interest in an activity of this kind in English increases, therefore there will be a greater interest in communicating in the language. The teacher’s participation in such activities helps the learners overcome any inhibitions they may have. (fragment)