Did you know that motivation is the key factor in learning a language?

by Louis Alexander

One of the main reasons we fail to learn English at school is low motivation. After approximately six hundred hours of instruction in secondary school alone, we often have very little to show for our efforts. No matter how hard our teachers try to impress on us that English will be useful in our future lives, we tend to rebel and ignore this excellent advice. The reason is that we don't choose to learn English while we're at school. It is imposed on us. We learn it only because it is part of the curriculum and therefore something to rebel against.

Of course there is a minority that learns excellent English at school, but the rest of us are obliged to learn or continue learning when we leave school. When we make the decision to enrol for a Direct English course, we are already very highly motivated. We know we really need to succeed this time and there is no excuse for failure.

There are two kinds of motivation: internal and external. The Direct English course makes active use of both kinds. Internal motivation comes from within and drives us to succeed. Success in Direct English depends on this internal drive. Learners have assignments which they must complete in their own time and at their own pace. It requires a great deal of internal motivation to meet this commitment. Most learners drive themselves very hard because they want value for the time and money they are committing to the task of learning English. The sessions with a tutor and the opportunities to join live classes constantly fuel the learner's motivation to ensure a successful outcome.

Internal motivation would not be enough if the materials were dull. This is where external motivation comes in. The books, video films and CD ROMs are highly entertaining as well as instructive. The books are beautifully produced with brilliant artwork and excellent page layouts. Above all, they are short, so they don't dampen the spirit in the way massive textbooks do. They are highly practical, as well, specifically designed to meet the needs of learners working on their own, so they anticipate every possible question a learner might have.

The three sets of video films are also highly motivating. The first set presents situations in the Sheraton Hotel, Boston, and explores a great range of interactive possibilities. The second set presents situations mainly in a lawyers' practice in Boston, again with a lot of interactive potential. The third set is a thriller based on the pharmaceutical industry. It is the emphasis on human values in all three sets that makes these films so watchable. You can watch them and enjoy them for their own sake and that's what makes them highly motivating. From a learning point of view, each episode is very short, usually under two minutes' duration, so the stories never become tedious and are fully exploited for learning purposes.

The CD ROMs are specifically designed to meet the needs of learners working on their on their own in front of a computer screen. They afford endless possibilities for role playing where learners are wholly in control of the degree of help they want from each programme. They bring together word, sound, and moving image in a unique way, so they present to learners the essence of the entire course. We assume learners are highly motivated when they start their course, but we ensure that this motivation is maintained throughout the learning period. The very low drop-out rate in Direct English courses round the world is proof that this formidable combination of internal and external motivation really works.


© LG & DE Limited 2006


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