Motivating language teachers

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It’s widely known that people learn foreign languages for different purposes, and they keep themselves motivated for various reasons.  There has been much talk about language learners, but what about language teachers?

Research tells us that the two broad motives leading to teaching foreign languages are the love of the target language and the desire to be valued. Still, their initial enthusiasm, aspirations and ideals may easily be destroyed by endless external pressures, bureaucratic demands or unsupportive school culture. Furthermore, when relationships are distant, competitive and uncaring, teachers may easily feel disconnected from their own truth and the passions that took them into teaching.

So, in order to survive, we need to stick to our vision, the very vision that helps us build resilience and sustain hope. Let’s look into our gifts, passions and past experiences, as well as what our bigger purposes and desired teaching selves. Let’s find out what we’re good at and what we really enjoy. We then can recall what our significant moments as a learner and a teacher were.

After all, we love the languages, their worlds and cultures we teach. We then might want to visualise our ideal classroom …

  • What do you see, feel and hear when you walk around your ideal classroom?
  • What are you doing in your ideal classroom? What is your role? Why?
  • What are your students doing in this ideal classroom?
  • What kinds of things are the students learning in your ideal classroom?
  • What kind of relationship exists between what goes on in your classroom and the 21st century society?

… and create creative tension

  • Peer observation
  • Self-observation
  • Collecting student feedback
  • Focus-group interview
  • Action research

We need to be open-minded, responsive, flexible humble and honest. Most importantly, though, we need to stick to the vision that is our own.

Source:  Dörney, Z., Kubanyiova, M. 2014. Motivating Learners, Motivating Teachers: Building vision in the language classroom. Cambridge University Press