130. I am a Spanish teacher at a High School in Coal Hill. My biggest problem with my classes is getting my students motivated and wanting to learn a foreign language. Our school has no Hispanic children and I feel that I want to teach ESL rather than Spanish because ESL students (or the ones that I have dealt with) are so excited to learn our language. How do you motivate English speakers to want to learn Spanish? It is more of a chore to them.
There are two types of motivators, and both types are related:
(1) EXTRINSIC motivators provide concrete reinforcers for the behaviors you desire. Thus, you can constantly --and I mean "constantly" for a while-- reinforce your students with points, or prizes, or "happy faces," or anything you may wish to use as a positive reinforcer. I do NOT recommend candy or anything with sugar or chemicals, but stars, stickers, wonderful little things usually do serve rather well as reinforcers.
I use points in my classes. And I literally had to give points constantly to get the behaviors I wanted established. I still do and many positive behaviors have been established in my class. For example, students answer questions, they ASK questions, they participate actively in the learning activities, do not get off their seats, raise their hands, etc.
I must admit I get tired of giving points. I wish the behaviors would become permanent with just a few reinforcers. It is very hard to realize how much effort WE teachers need to put into establishing the behaviors we desire in our students. I am developing a different system for next semester when the students would keep track of their points. I hope the system would make it very easy for me to constantly give points.
EXTRINSIC motivators, however, ARE NOT enough. You also need:
(2) INTRINSIC motivators, that is, students who WANT to learn, with or without reinforcement from the teacher. Positive words are the only type of intrinsic motivators I know. Students need to learn to behave in ways that trigger in their minds positive words: "I raised my hand to ask a question. I am __________(Positive word)______________."
To establish behaviors the teacher uses extrinsic motivators. Then the teacher models
the positive words --the intrinsic motivators. For example:
The teacher calls on a student who raised (h)is/er hand and spoke when given permission. Teacher praises the student and gives (h)im/er a sticker. "Thanks, so-and-so!!!! You just earned this star! You are indeed very cooperative since in my class cooperative students always do what you did: raised their hand to ask a question."
I can assure you that it takes a long time for students to perceive that the positive words are for them to say to themselves. You can help by asking: "Now, so-and-so, in my class cooperative students raise their hand to ask questions. You did, you raised your hand ONLY, so, what are you?" Hopefully the student would say "Cooperative, I am cooperative." The minute they begin to control themselves through their own language, teachers are no longer needed to motivate students. They would motivate themselves. BUT IT TAKES A LONG TIME AND LOTS of practice!!!!!!!
I posted pictures of my classroom on my Web Sites and you can see the way I handle EXTRINSIC and INTRINSIC motivators. For next year I will develop a system with the actual words, so that students will write sentences as homework, using the positive words I give them every day!!!!!
For more in-depth information, classroom demonstrations, and "coaching" of new and/or experienced teachers, Dr. CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK offers:
1. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
2. Cross Cultural Diversity - Multicultural Strategies
3. Effective Instruction for English Learners (L.E.P. students) Parts 1, 2, 3, 4
4. Promoting Academic Success in Language Minority Students
5. Cognitive - Academic Language and Vocabulary Development
6. Oral Language / Literacy Skills / Higher Order Thinking Skills
7. 50/50 Dual Language Programs: design, planning and implementation
8. The Structure of English / The Structure of Spanish
9. Transition: Introduction to English Reading
Web Site Programs for Teachers: Numbers 1, 5, 7, 8, and 9.
Web Site Programs for Paraprofessionals: Number 3.
Web Site Programs for New Teachers:
Enhanced Cultural Sensitivity - The Challenge of Students Diversity
Identifying / Responding to Students' Language Needs
Phonemic Awareness: Teaching English phonics to L.E.P. students
Relationship Between Reading, Writing and Spelling
Improving Reading Performance -- Building Oral Language Skills)
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CARMEN SANCHEZ SADEK, Ph.D.
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