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Keeping College Students Motivated in ESL Learning

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Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) is a very noble career choice. Whether you’re an English native or have acquired your English language proficiency degree at some point in the past, you can make a career out of it. There are always people out there who are looking for ways to learn English, given that it is the lingua franca of our era. 

College students who are looking to move abroad or apply for post-graduate programs in different countries are especially keen on learning English. However, due to obligations, time-management issues, or a general lack of attention, many college students struggle to keep up with their English lessons. Here’s how you can motivate your ESL college students to stay on top of their homework and scheduled lessons so that they embrace English more successfully with you as their teacher.

Help Students Find their Learning Purpose

Different students will pick up ESL learning for different reasons – you need to find out what they are. Before you start teaching someone, ask them about their motivation for learning English. Did they meet a significant other and they want to communicate better with them? Did they get a job, an internship or a college offer abroad and need to learn English well? Or, do they want to learn English for themselves, at their own pace? Learning English as a foreign or a second language is beneficial all-around, but what “exactly” is driving your student to learn it?

Identify why your student is keen on learning English and annunciate their goals throughout your lessons. For example, if your student is preparing for an architecture post-graduate in the UK, adjust your lessons to include a lot of architectural content and vocabulary. This will keep your students interested in your teaching and motivated to do their exercises and homework outside of your online classes.

Diversify your Teaching Content

Luckily, the English language is prominently featured in a variety of multimedia entertainment industries. Movies, TV shows, video games, and literature all feature plenty of materials published in the English language. So, why stick to worksheets and English language learning books? Ask your students about their interests, hobbies, and passions to find out what you could do about diversifying their learning experience. 

If your students are into fantasy or sci-fi, for example, you can tell them to watch a movie for homework and take notes on it. Then, you can discuss the movie during class and point out some interesting words, phrases, sayings, abbreviations, etc. This type of learning will be very interesting to college students who otherwise spend endless hours reading and writing for their academic assignments. The last thing many of them want is to read and write even more for ESL classes – rely on multimedia instead and they’ll look to homework more favorably.

Let Students Propose their Writing Exercises

Writing assignments can often feel like a chore, even in ESL learning. Every college student you work with will have different sensibilities when it comes to creative writing. Some will naturally gravitate toward short essays or fiction writing while others will prefer research or case studies. 

Give your pupils some agency in what they’ll write about by letting them pitch topics to you. You can introduce them to TopWritersReview.com as a trustworthy aggregate platform for writing, editing, and formatting college essays and other types of papers. Students who learn how to use digital platforms to shape their English writing into essays and papers will quickly learn how to use it in academia. This all stems from giving students a little bit of agency in what assignments they’ll work on, so discuss it with each student you’re working with.

Organize Online Group Speaking Sessions 

One of the reasons why college students lose interest in ESL or other types of learning is because they don’t feel engaged by it. Relying solely on theory and basing your lessons on grammar rules won’t keep the students interested for long. Instead, drop them into the deep end with an online speaking session or two. 

If you’re teaching more than one student, try to organize a group lesson where you can all speak English at an appropriate level. College students who have the opportunity to actually “speak” during classes will be much more engaged and interested in what you have to teach them. This will make them more inclined to finish up their homework and prepare better for each upcoming online class.

Learning is a Two-Way Street

Whether you’re an experienced English teacher or are looking into kick-starting your online teaching career soon, rethink your stance toward your students. Everyone is a student for as long as they’re alive. You can learn a lot from how your college students react to homework, certain topics, or even segments of grammar as you teach them. 

Ask them about their learning process and how you could help them, regardless of actual English studies. If your students embrace you as a mentor and a guide on their learning journey, they’ll be far more motivated to go through with it. Don’t treat teaching ESL like a job – treat it as you doing something good for someone else, and the results will manifest themselves naturally between you and your pupils.

Bio: Jessica Fender is a professional copywriter, editor, and digital marketer with years of experience in the online publishing industry. Jessica is versed in writing various types of papers, documents, and essays for online publications, as well as academic assignments and research papers. She spends her free time working on her personal development and studying up on the latest writing industry trends.

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