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Emotional foundation of a learner: learner’s motivation

Throughout the academic period learner’s mind is bombarded with various concepts, values and ideas which differ in significance, difficulty and relevance for our learners. The great amount of the above mentioned issues does not equal to their best quality. Such case can be viewed as a bad model for the task of language learning and getting education in general.

Traditionally, educators followed the principle of the piano playing chicken the main point of which was to develop a habit of doing what you are asked to do. A simple case of forming reflexes in the mind and behavior. The piano music is made by chicken’s picking the seeds from the notes, so the necessary academic concepts are learned by a student in the same way. Both the exemplary bird and student become “hungry” for “food”. Obedience prevents creativity and freedom of actions.

Since the old times teachers and methodologists have been arguing about the prevalence of teaching uniformity over uniqueness and vice versa. The main question was “What or whom should we teach at first?” Should it be the subject matter or students? If we choose a subject matter as the main criteria – we emphasize the importance of curriculum and contents of education over student’s personality. That means what we teach is the most important for us, and our students gave to adapt to such circumstances [1]. On the other hand, if we vote for a student, we put their personal and academic features and skills on the first place.

The principle of uniformity can be compared with the design of a rose garden where every plant grows on its place without interfering into a different area. Uniqueness is understandable if you look at the design of a Japanese garden where every plant grows on the place entitled by natural laws. A human only helps and supports its growth. Ideally, we, as educators, must combine uniformity with uniqueness. We should follow the structure and plans but we also should let the expression of our students’ creativity and personality.

Of course, it is difficult to make everyone believe one and the same thing, Students can be taught equally but they learn the subject in different ways. The matter that a teacher chooses (i.e. a subject or a person) influences his/her future career and attitude to profession.

We have started with general and teacher’s principles; now let us speak about the types of learners and teachers. There are two main types of learners: artists and technicians. Artistic learners are good at humanitarian subjects and liberal arts. Artistic learners are right-brained people who are visual, outspoken, impulsive, intuitive, daydreamers and disorganized. They are good at working with projects, group discussions, entertaining people and creating something new [2].

Technicians are good at exact sciences, logical riddles and solving intelligence tests. Technical learners are left-brained people who are verbal, logical, structured, neat, analytical, good at languages and imaginative. Technicians rely on facts, proved information; they follow the plan and use their creativity and imagination only if it is a part of the task given.

Technical and artistic attributes should be equally developed in our learners. There must not be any dominant part or prevalence of one group of attributes over the rest of them.

Teachers are classified as instructors and educators. Etymologically, to instruct means to build, create, therefore, instructing others we create logical networks in their system of knowledge. If we belong to instructors we choose the subject matter as the main issue and we work with future technicians [5]. To educate means to lead out or to educe, therefore, when we educate we help our students to reveal all their potential by means of which they will be able to achieve their goals. While comparing high school and university backgrounds we may think that student’s upbringing finishes in high school, but this suggestion is wrong. Student’s upbringing takes a new level of development.

Teacher and Instructor are two words that are often confused due to the appearing similarity between their meanings. Actually, they are two different words that indeed convey different meanings. The word ‘teacher’ is used in the sense of ‘trainer’ or ‘educator’. On the other hand, the word ‘instructor’ is used in the sense of ‘coach’. This is the main difference between the two words.

A coach normally instructs the players or the trainees, while conducting training sessions. That is why the word ‘instructor’ is more suitable to indicate a coach. On the other hand, a teacher is one who teaches or trains by giving information about the subject. In other words, a coach is a teacher too in some ways. This is due to the fact that he teaches the basics of the subject before coaching the students or the players.

Instruction deals with the practical aspects of a subject or an art. On the other hand, teaching deals with the theoretical aspects of a subject or an art. This is an important difference between teacher and instructor. A teacher, on the other hand, throws sufficient light on the ‘what to do’ aspects of a subject or an art. On the other hand, an instructor throws more light on the ‘how to do’ aspects of a subject or an art.

Teacher is a person who is appointed by the management of a school or any other educational institution to teach a given subject to the students. On the other hand, an instructor is appointed by the organizers of training camps or retreats. The job of an instructor is usually not a permanent one. On the other hand, the job of a teacher is a permanent one. These are the differences between the two words, namely, teacher and instructor. Educator and Teacher are two words that are often interchanged wrongly. There is some difference between the two words for that matter. The word ‘educator’ is used in the sense of ‘mentor’. On the other hand, the word ‘teacher’ is used in the sense of ‘trainer’ or ‘preceptor’. In fact, the word ‘educator’ is used in the special sense of ‘mentor’. This is the main difference between the two words [3].

The word ‘educator’ is used mainly as a noun. An educator leaves a permanent impression upon the taught. Many a time the taught considers such a persona that has left a permanent impression upon him as his mentor or ‘educator’. It is thus, understood that not all teachers can be called educators. Only such of those teachers who leave a permanent mark in the hearts of the students alone can be called as educators.

On the other hand, a teacher is appointed by the management of a school or a college to teach the lessons that form part of the syllabus for the students of a particular class. He or she is supposed to ward off the doubts in the minds of the students regarding the theory in a particular subject or an art. A teacher works for a salary at the end of the month.

A teacher alone can turn out to be an educator. On the other hand, all educators are natural teachers. It is interesting to note that the word ‘educator’ has its verbal form in the word ‘educate’, whereas the word ‘teacher’ has its verbal form in the word ‘teach’. It has its abstract noun in the form ‘teaching’ [6]. On the other hand, the word ‘educator’ has is adjectival form in the word ‘educating’. These are the differences between the two words. Teachers remain instructors and educators at universities. It is up to them to allocate more or less time for giving instructions or educating their students. Work experience makes it easy to combine instruction and education as one effective process.

The information that we learn every day in our life influences our thinking abilities, emotions, attitudes, behavior and actions. Another good example of human thinking process is an orchestra play. Thinking process is like a symphony that created by musical instruments (here we mean parts of the brain responsible for thoughts and feelings). The worse the instruments are the worse the symphony is. Teacher’s role is conductor’s role and responsibility. He shows the right signs or symbols that a musician has learned before and knows how to perform.

Those signs and symbols are joined together getting into logical networks that within the time become less but complex. Practice makes perfect, so the brain functions eliminating unnecessary or neglected “logical paths”. Our feelings and emotions let the “stronger” networks remain and keep improving. That case is called emotional affects. All our memorable life events are connected with feelings and emotions whether good or bad, positive or negative they are.

We learn and teach by example. Learner’s emotional foundation starts in childhood. All parents want their children become good people, persons. Still, they can confuse these two notions – person and personage. Personage attributes belong to our image, outside looks. Personal attributes are inner, spiritual. Some parents are more interested in praising their children for obedience and good manners. Paying more attention to child’s actions and behavior and less to inner worries and troubles, parents tend to lose in their way to upbringing [7]. Child understands the praise and is usually ready to meet his/her parents’ expectations. In this case a well-mannered child equals a good person. It is wrong. If his inner world does not develop, so s/he will always pretend and play the role s/he is expected to.

Personal features reveal the real traits of a child. It is good when s/he knows who s/he really is. If a child does not know that s/he has a fear that other people will learn it and turn him/her into an outsider. In order not to get busted s/he improves his/her personage. It can be clearly seen on classes, when a student disqualifies the value of the course and instructor’s contribution, incompletes the assignments and tends to blame other people or things in his/her incompetence.

Both students and teachers choose their way in dealing with “a fight or flight reflex”. When a teacher chooses a fight variant i.e. overdoes with control in everything (e.g. discipline in the class, checking students’ home assignments, etc.), tends to perfection (e.g. behavior, plan of actions), blames others but not him/herself in mistakes, denies any alternative thinking, shows his/her unreliability by keeping silence when unnecessary or disqualifying other students’ contribution, a student can “flight” physically, mentally or emotionally. This problem may occur if a teacher is incompetent in motivation issues.

The best lessons, books, and materials in the world won’t get students excited about learning and willing to work hard if they’re not motivated.

Motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, is a key factor in the success of students at all stages of their education, and teachers can play a pivotal role in providing and encouraging that motivation in their students. Of course that’s much easier said than done, as all students are motivated differently and it takes time and a lot of effort to learn to get a classroom full of kids enthusiastic about learning, working hard, and pushing themselves to excel [1].

Even the most well-intentioned and educated teachers sometimes lack the skills to keep kids on track, try using these methods to motivate your students and to encourage them to live up to their true potential.

Give students a sense of control. While guidance from a teacher is important to keeping kids on task and motivated, allowing students to have some choice and control over what happens in the classroom is actually one of the best ways to keep them engaged. For example, allowing students to choose the type of assignment they do or which problems to work on can give them a sense of control that may just motivate them to do more.

Define the objectives. It can be very frustrating for students to complete an assignment or even to behave in class if there aren’t clearly defined objectives. Students want and need to know what is expected of them in order to stay motivated to work. At the beginning of the year, lay out clear objectives, rules, and expectations of students so that there is no confusion and students have goals to work towards.

Create a threat-free environment. While students do need to understand that there are consequences to their actions, far more motivating for students than threats are positive reinforcements. When teachers create a safe, supportive environment for students, affirming their belief in a student’s abilities rather than laying out the consequences of not doing things, students are much more likely to get and stay motivated to do their work. At the end of the day, students will fulfill the expectations that the adults around them communicate, so focus on can, not can’t [3].

Change your scenery. A classroom is a great place for learning, but sitting at a desk day in and day out can make school start to seem a bit dull for some students. To renew interest in the subject matter or just in learning in general, give your students a chance to get out of the classroom. Take field trips, bring in speakers, or even just head to the library for some research. The brain loves novelty and a new setting can be just what some students need to stay motivated to learn.

Offer varied experiences. Not all students will respond to lessons in the same way. For some, hands-on experiences may be the best. Others may love to read books quietly or to work in groups. In order to keep all students motivated, mix up your lessons so that students with different preferences will each get time focused on the things they like best. Doing so will help students stay engaged and pay attention.

Use positive competition. Competition in the classroom isn’t always a bad thing, and in some cases can motivate students to try harder and work to excel. Work to foster a friendly spirit of competition in your classroom, perhaps through group games related to the material or other opportunities for students to show off their knowledge.

Offer rewards. Everyone likes getting rewards, and offering your students the chance to earn them is an excellent source of motivation [7]. Things like pizza parties, watching movies, or even something as simple as a sticker on a paper can make students work harder and really aim to achieve. Consider the personalities and needs of your students to determine appropriate rewards for your class.

Give students responsibility. Assigning students classroom jobs is a great way to build a community and to give students a sense of motivation. Most students will see classroom jobs as a privilege rather than a burden and will work hard to ensure that they, and other students, are meeting expectations. It can also be useful to allow students to take turns leading activities or helping out so that each feels important and valued.

Allow students to work together. While not all students will jump at the chance to work in groups, many will find it fun to try to solve problems, do experiments, and work on projects with other students. The social interaction can get them excited about things in the classroom and students can motivate one another to reach a goal. Teachers need to ensure that groups are balanced and fair, however, so that some students aren’t doing more work than others.

Give praise when earned. There is no other form of motivation that works quite as well as encouragement. Even as adults we crave recognition and praise, and students at any age are no exception. Teachers can give students a bounty of motivation by rewarding success publicly, giving praise for a job well done, and sharing exemplary work.

Encourage self-reflection. Most kids want to succeed, they just need help figuring out what they need to do in order to get there. One way to motivate your students is to get them to take a hard look at themselves and determine their own strengths and weaknesses. Students are often much more motivated by creating these kinds of critiques of themselves than by having a teacher do it for them, as it makes them feel in charge of creating their own objectives and goals [7].

Be excited. One of the best ways to get your students motivated is to share your enthusiasm. When you’re excited about teaching, they’ll be much more excited about learning. It’s that simple.

Know your students. Getting to know your students is about more than just memorizing their names. Students need to know that their teacher has a genuine interest in them and cares about them and their success. When students feel appreciated it creates a safe learning environment and motivates them to work harder, as they want to get praise and good feedback from someone they feel knows and respects them as individuals.[2]

Harness student interests. Knowing your students also has some other benefits, namely that it allows you to relate classroom material to things that students are interested in or have experienced. Teachers can use these interests to make things more interesting and relatable to students, keeping students motivated for longer.

Help students find intrinsic motivation. It can be great to help students get motivated, but at the end of the day they need to be able to generate their own motivation. Helping students find their own personal reasons for doing class work and working hard, whether because they find material interesting, want to go to college, or just love to learn, is one of the most powerful gifts you can give them.

Manage student anxiety. Some students find the prospect of not doing well so anxietyinducing that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. For these students, teachers may find that they are most motivated by learning that struggling with a subject isn’t the end of the world. Offer support no matter what the end result is and ensure that students don’t feel so overwhelmed by expectations that they just give up.

Make goals high but attainable. If you’re not pushing your students to do more than the bare minimum, most won’t seek to push themselves on their own. Students like to be challenged and will work to achieve high expectations so long as they believe those goals to be within their reach, so don’t be afraid to push students to get more out of them.

Give feedback and offer chances to improve. Students who struggle with class work can sometimes feel frustrated and get down on themselves, draining motivation. In these situations it’s critical that teachers help students to learn exactly where they went wrong and how they can improve next time. Figuring out a method to get where students want to be can also help them to stay motivated to work hard.

Track progress. It can be hard for students to see just how far they’ve come, especially with subjects that are difficult for them. Tracking can come in handy in the classroom, not only for teachers but also for students. Teachers can use this as a way to motivate students, allowing them to see visually just how much they are learning and improving as the year goes on [4].

Make things fun. Not all class work needs to be a game or a good time, but students who see school as a place where they can have fun will be more motivated to pay attention and do the work that’s required of them than those who regard it as a chore. Adding fun activities into your school day can help students who struggle to stay engaged and make the classroom a much friendlier place for all students.

Provide opportunities for success. Students, even the best ones, can become frustrated and demotivated when they feel like they’re struggling or not getting the recognition that other students are. Make sure that all students get a chance to play to their strengths and feel included and valued. It can make a world of difference in their motivation.

If we return to our first example with loading our students’ minds with various concepts, we can compare it with a good example of equipping ships with the goods that they have to transport. In our case, a ship is a student, the goods are knowledge that we give and share and, finally, the sea or the ocean is an image of their personal and academic life. While applying their knowledge in real life, our students should follow such rules as: consistency of information and actions, security, curiosity, internalization and self-efficacy. It goes without saying, that we start learning new information from the simplest one to the most difficult, and all the levels are logically and systematically dependent and structured. Our previous actions influence the actions and attitudes of ours and others. In order to think philosophically and analytically we should provide security for ourselves and our students. Every lesson must provoke our students’ curiosity and enthusiasm that, in their turn, inspire them to keep learning and winning. The worldview of other people can become ours, if we share the same ideas and issues. We internalize others’ opinion, if we think in the same way as they do. Being on the top we try to be self-effective and wanted from others. We live, experience, share knowledge to fulfill our self-realization stage.


  1. Frank A. Morris. Language Learning Motivation for the Class of 2002: Why First-year Students Learn English. Puerto Rican High School, USA, 2002.
  2. Howe H.A.J., Michael J.A. A Teacher’s Guide to the Psychology of Learning. UK, 1999.
  3. Howe H.A.J. Principles of Human Learning and Abilities. Psychology Press, 1998.
  4. Jacqueline Norris-Holt. Motivation as a Second Factor in Second Language Acquisition. Japan.
  5. Kyosti Julkunen. Situation and TaskSpecific Motivation in Foreign Language Learning. University of Joensuu, Finland.
  6. Sakui, K. Motivation in Language Learning: From Teachers’ Perspective. New Zealand.
  7. Stephen D. Krashen. Applications of Psycholinguistic Research to the Classroom.

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