How to increase motivation to learn English

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Motivation is one of the most important factors in language learning. Children with a good attitude towards English are more likely to work hard and keep going when learning gets challenging.

Our exams are designed to motivate children by building their confidence step by step. We aim to bring learning to life – covering topics that children are familiar with and developing the skills they need to make friends, study and work in English.

What motivates children to learn a language?

There are two main types of motivation.

  • Learning English for a particular purpose – for example to get a job, get into university, to travel.
  • Learning English because you enjoy learning, having fun and making progress. This tends to be the most effective form of motivation.

Children are also more motivated when they have a positive impression of English-speaking people and cultures. If they like the music, films or sports, they are more likely to want to learn the language.

What motivates children at different ages?

Essentially, it’s the same. Learners of all ages achieve more when they are intrinsically motivated. In other words, when the learning experience is fun, interesting and meaningful.

Children will want to learn if they have extrinsic motivation, such as getting a reward for good results, or needing English for university studies. But as Steve Jobs said: ‘The only way to do great work is to love what you do.’

How can parents influence their child’s motivation?

Research shows that parents’ attitudes towards education have a significant impact on their children’s attitudes towards learning. If you are enthusiastic about learning, it’s more likely that your child will be too.

Just like any other skill, motivation can be encouraged and improved. Children are most motivated when:

1. They feel that a learning activity is interesting and meaningful.

  • Give your child lots of opportunities to explore their interests and favourite play activities in English. Any language ‘work’ you do at home that is fun, varied, attention-grabbing or creative will help your child prepare for their tests and develop their English language skills in a natural, stress-free way.

2. They believe that the learning activity can be successfully completed.

  • It’s important to have learning activities at the right level. If an activity is far too easy or too difficult, it can be uninspiring and demoralising.
  • Children have different preferences for how they take in information. Some like to listen to explanations and discuss, some like to look at diagrams and pictures, some like to actively experiment and create. Make a note of what works best – success builds motivation.

3. They have some control over how to do the activity.

  • It can be really motivating to have some choices. It usually encourages children to work harder and produce more creative work. It also helps them learn to take control of their own learning and be responsible for their decisions.

4. They will get approval from someone they care about.

  • Like everyone, children want to be ‘good’ at things and want their parents to be proud of them. Praise them to create a sense of success and encourage them when they take ‘risks’. Help them turn mistakes into opportunities for learning.
  • You could try saving a piece of work or videoing an activity your child has enjoyed doing. Put a date in the calendar to do the activity again. Then compare the two pieces of work and focus on your child’s achievements. This is a clear way to show your child how they are improving in their studies.


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