Motivation in Language Learning

Motivation is vital in language learning. One of the most difficult aspects of teaching is knowing how to motivate a language student. The secret is identifying the students’ motivation then making the lesson relevant and enjoyable.


There are many ways in which you can make the experience of learning English more enjoyable and more effective. Learning can be fun, whether you are making learning a stimulating activity for yourself as a student of English, or for your students as an EFL teacher.

Motivation in language learning is one of most important aspects of making solid progress in a language. Because of this, motivating your students is the first step on your way to effective English language teaching.


All students have their own motivation for learning English. If you can find this motivation, you are on your way to producing stimulating lessons for the students.

As a student, once you identify your motivation, make sure you keep this in mind as you learn. While you are always aware of your motivation, your determination to succeed increases and learning will come more easily and will be more enjoyable.

motivation in language learning

Why do you want to learn English?

Understanding the reasons for students wanting to learn English is a useful way of finding the best way to teach them. In order to identify students’ motivation, you need to perform a needs analysis.

If a student wants to learn English for the purposes of his or her job, it is important to find out more about the job itself in order to teach the student the most appropriate and useful English vocabulary.

Motivation in language learning can be complex. The reasons people learn English are wide and varied and could include many different drives and goals.


Some possible motivations for EFL students include:

  • Because they have a passion to learn
  • Because they love language
  • To integrate more fully into their community
  • To improve their job prospects
  • To improve their knowledge
  • For self-fulfillment
  • To impress others with a new skill
  • To gain a qualification
  • To communicate with family and friends.

student motivation

The problem of de-motivation

If a student is not motivated then he or she will not learn as deeply or as quickly. It takes effort to learn English. If the students have strong motivation to learn they will be more likely to stay the course and succeed with their learning.

The teacher will have an easier job teaching an eager class and will find their efforts at making interesting and stimulating lessons appreciated by the students as well as finding the students retaining more of what they have been taught.

The importance of a needs analysis

You can discover your students’ motivations by conducting a thorough needs analysis. This can take the course of a questionnaire or a more informal discussion.

Your discoveries from the needs analysis will help you to understand what your students need from their lessons and enable you to prepare appropriate material.

Motivation in language learning can be discovered through a thorough needs analysis and this can help you form a powerful lesson that keeps students motivated throughout their learning.


Make it relevant – and fun!

In order to keep students motivated, you need to inject some fun into the classroom.

Whenever a seasonal event occurs throughout the year or something happens in the news, try to use this as a spring board into a fun EFL lesson, using vocabulary related to the news item or event.

For example, during November you could discuss the Movember charity event in the classroom, at Halloween don’t forget to introduce some ghastly new Halloween vocabulary, and take advantage of other celebrations and sports events.


We have many lesson plan ideas and themed vocabulary sheets that can help keep your students motivated and entertained while they learn.

What do you think is the most common motivation for language learners?

How do you keep students motivated in your EFL classroom?


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