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The 10 Commandments of Motivating Language Learners

This week we are going to take a look at a very interesting paper written by Zoltán Dörnyei and Kata Csizér. It’s called “Ten Commandments for motivating Language Learners” and while we will be focusing on the contents published on page 215, do take a look at the abstract:

The question of how to motivate language learners has been a neglected area in L2 motivation research, and even the few available analyses lack an adequate research base. This article presents the results of an empirical survey aimed at obtaining classroom data on motivational strategies. Two hundred Hungarian teachers of English from various language teaching institutions were asked how important they considered a selection of 51 strategies and how frequently they used them in their teaching practice. Based on their responses we have compiled a concise set of ten motivational macrostrategies, which we have called the ‘Ten commandments for motivating language learners’. On the basis of the frequency data, we also discuss which of the commandments tend to be particularly underutilized in the language classroom.

So, let’s take a look at the list!

  1. Set a personal example with your own behaviour.
  2. Create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere in the classroom.
  3. Present the tasks properly.
  4. Develop a good relationship with the learners.
  5. Increase the learners’ linguistic self-confidence.
  6. Make the language classes interesting.
  7. Promote learner autonomy.
  8. Personalize the learning process.
  9. Increase the learners’ goal-orientedness.
  10. Familiarize learners with the target language culture

While this list might refer to main teachers, we as ALTs can still work on most of these points, some by ourselves, some thanks to team-teaching. I could also add another point to our list:

11. Develop a good relationship with your co-teacher.

We will try and further analyze these 10 11 steps in the future. For the moment, my biggest suggestion is to go through the list and reflect. How many of the above points are you practicing in the classroom? And what can you change in order to be able to do them all?

For those of you who would like to read the entire paper, you can find it at the following link:

Nicholas J. Wilson

Nicholas started his professional career in Italy in 2012 teaching adults after completing the Cambridge CELTA course in Edinburgh, Scotland. He began working with young learners in 2014 after receiving his MA in English Literature. Since 2016 he has been teaching at numerous elementary schools as an ALT in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Outside of his contributions towards the ALTTO platform, he also writes peer reviews for various journals. His command of five different languages has sparked his passion towards comparative literature research, with a keen interest on the influences westernization has had on Japanese Meiji/Taisho writers. You can find him inside old-fashioned cafés enjoying a good cup of coffee while playing around with his 1970’s Asahi Pentax film camera.