A very powerful tool for motivating your students is their belief that your course will help them develop their skills. Just giving them a syllabus at the start of a term with a list of goals for the course seems to have little effect on the level of confidence students will have. However, testimonies by previous students (your students’ peers) about how much your course has helped them can give your course a great deal of credibility.
On the first day of class, through a PowerPoint presentation, we explain specifically what skills they will need to be successful in their next level of instruction and how our course is designed to teach them those skills. We then show them what previous students have told us about the effectiveness of the course. Some of these are actual quotes that students have said or written, and others are just capturing the essence.
Below are two examples for introducing the highest level of an ESL writing course:
Motivating tool samples
• “My friends who took Academic ESL Level 5 told me that if I do all the assignments in the course and come to class on time, I will pass to English 101. So I followed their advice and I passed to 101 and got an A in it.”
• “When I started Academic ESL Level 5, I didn’t think that doing assignments were important. I thought that I only need to get a good grade on the essays. So I didn’t seriously do all the homework. At the end of the quarter, I noticed that my writing skills did not improve very much.”
Below are two examples for introducing a Level 3 reading course:
• “I just finished Level 4 and got a good grade. I can say that I did well in Level 4 because of all the techniques that I learned in Level 3. I used those almost every day in Level 4.”
• “Before I took this course, I hated reading. But I learned how to read faster, I increased my vocabulary, and I liked the articles. So now I enjoy reading a lot.”
Finally, instead of “lecturing” students on the reason for classroom rules, quoting a former student can be less time consuming and more effective. Below is an quote concerning a “no smartphone” rule that an instructor showed his students:
Former student in this class wrote, “At first, I didn’t like the ‘no smartphone rule, but now I like it a lot. I am more focused in class. I’m not always thinking about my messages.