Why are some students successful with learning languages and others struggle? Successful language learners tend to have four common characteristics.
- Makes their own opportunities for practice in using the language inside and outside the classroom. Practice is the most essential part of becoming a better language speaker. Students who practice unrehearsed language in the classroom are better prepared for speaking English outside of the classroom.
- Learns to live with uncertainty by not getting flustered and by continuing to talk or listen without understanding every word. Building confidence and not giving up is important for a language learner. Students need to understand they may not know every word being said. They should not focus on the words they do not know, but on the words they do know to understand the general meaning.
- Develops intrinsic motivation. It is important that students have a desire to learn a language, other than just to pass a test or fulfill a requirement. When students are intrinsically motivated, they enjoy the classes more and become better at the language.
- Sets personal goals. It is important for the students to set achievable goals, so they can monitor their progress. Goals give students direction and purpose for learning a language. They help students know if they are on track or not.
Many EFL students lack intrinsic motivation and goal setting. The students study very hard, but mostly study to pass exams or to please their parents. As a teacher, it is important to remind students of the benefits of studying English to encourage intrinsic motivation. The following are some benefits of learning English that could be communicated with students.
- Communicate with people from other countries.
- Make friends with people around the world.
- Travel to places around the world and be able to communicate.
- Understand songs in English and be able to sing them at karaoke.
- Watch and understand foreign movies.
- Read internet sites, books, and magazines in English.
In addition, teachers should encourage students to set personal goals. On the first day of class, the teacher can ask the students what they would like to get out of the class other than just a grade. From there, the students can write a goal they would like to set for themselves. Goals should be achievable by the end of the semester, so the students can have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the course. Examples of goals might include getting an A in the course, reading a specified number of English books, keeping a vocabulary notebook and writing a specified number of words, or finding and writing to an online friend once a week.