I recently received the following e-mail: “I found your web site from the monthly language magazine in Taiwan.” (Kerry Weisner and my article were published in the Chinese and English language journal, “Advanced” – January and February 2005 issues).
The teacher asked me how to motivate students to have them like memorizing English vocabulary and grammar.
I started my response by suggesting that almost everyone acknowledges that YOU LEARN BEST WHEN YOU TEACH ANOTHER and that learning is internalized when you live it. Therefore, the best way to get people to learn is to turn them into teachers because they learn the material best when they teach it. (This teaching technique was the prime approach that Stephen Covey used as a university professor.)
Have students memorize just one word and one grammar rule per day. Use the kaizen way: Start by taking very, very small steps. To enhance memory, have students rehearse the vocabulary in a sentence and the grammar rule with an example just before going to sleep and then again first thing in the morning.
Then have students work together in pairs and each day share with a partner the one vocabulary word and one grammar rule with the examples. This collaborative approach is much more effective and more enjoyable than memorizing and practicing silently to oneself.
Introduce a hierarchy of motivation for the exercise. Here is a sample for your students:
Level D (INTERNAL motivation to learn)
–Engages in the assignment because of the desire to learn
–Understands that with the effort comes the reward
–Realizes that doing something to please others is not nearly so satisfying as doing something for one’s own personal growth.
Level C (Relies on EXTERNAL motivation to prompt effort)
–Fulfills the assignment primarily to get a good grade
–Completes assignment in order to please, impress, or not receive disapproval of parents.
–Distracts others by taking them off task
–Spends little if any effort to learn