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Motivation in the classroomIn today?s society there seems to be a consensus that there are certain people who have a natural ability for learning languages. There is always someone in every classroom who seems to comprehend and produce language at a faster rate and more effectively than others, doing so with finesse and ease. Many different factors affect the way in which one learns and learning a second language is no exception. It can be a long, often extremely complex, process, and success can be dependent on many different factors, for example, the learning process, styles and strategies, learner?s individual characteristics, cultural underpinnings, past experiences, expectations and so on. There are also external factors that can affect ones second language acquisition (SLA), such as the learning environment (whether is it natural or instructional), the social context, and the teaching methodologies and strategies used. As Reis Alves suggests, these uncontrollable external factors often influence the internal activity of learning, in particular learners? ?beliefs, affective factors, learning styles and strategies? (2008, p. 2). Motivation is an affective characteristic, meaning it influences ones moods, feelings and attitudes (Lightbrown & Spada, 2006, p. 63). It refers to ?why? ? why one is studying a particular language, why one likes certain strategies over others, why one succeeds orally while others prefer reading (Leaver, Ehrman, & Shekhtman, 2005, pp. 103-104). I am very interested in this, as it is a variable that is hard to identify and measure, but it is clear to see that it plays a major part in ones language-learning experience and is essential in ESL classrooms. Nunan describes motivation as the ?extent to which the individual works or strives to learn the language because of a desire to do so and the satisfaction experienced? (2006, p. 233). After much research into the topic of motivation I have come to ask myself, does success lead to motivation, or does motivation lead to success? Whichever way one wishes to view this conundrum, it is clear that success and motivation are intrinsically intertwined and play a major role in ones SLA. One of the main ways that research focuses on motivation is known as intrinsic & extrinsic. Firstly intrinsic motivation refers to doing something that makes one happy. Deci and Ryan imply that when learners? individual natural curiosities and interests stimulate and energize their learning they are intrinsically motivated (Arnold, 1999, p. 14). Whereas, extrinsic motivation has a more external driving force, such as the desire to get a reward, avoid punishment, pass a test, succeed in a job, and so on. It is not unlikely that one can be both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated in the one situation. For example, my friend Victoria (chinese citizen living in australia as a scholarship PHD student) shared with me that during her university education in China she was motivated to excel in her english classes because she saw a need for her future career in becoming fluent in the english language (extrinsic motivation). However, she also shared with me that her passion for english literature, history, and poetry compelled her to continue studying, even when the repetitious nature of her ?mundane? classes seemed too much (intrinsic motivation). Research shows that it is this intrinsic motivation that is most favorable and beneficial in the classroom, ?especially for long-term retention? (Arnold, 1999, p. 14). Most second language learners would agree that the times when they feel most successful are during the times when they are highly motivated. This is supported by many researchers, as Lightbrown and Spada state, that although research cannot prove that motivation can cause success in learning, ?there is ample evidence that positive motivation is associated with the willingness to keep learning? (Lightbrown & Spada, How Languages are Learned, 2006, p. 63). Therefore it is important within a classroom setting that the teacher does their best to keep motivation high. By keeping lessons stimulating, interesting, varied and fun students will be more willing and more motivated to take part in the lessons, and language learning will take place as a result. Classrooms need to be an inviting place that has a positive and fun atmosphere. This can be created by ensuring that the arrangement of the classroom is strategic and visual aids are used wisely, with brightly colored posters and artwork displayed around the room, and realia incorporated into lessons as often as possible. Realia is a great way to motivate students, because it gives them a clear visual stimulation that connects their two language worlds. It can be seen that motivation, both intrinsic and extrinsic, are important within the classroom. The teacher has a great responsibility to get to know their students, understand what they like and don?t like, the ways they learn and the things that keep them interested and focused, ultimately helping foster motivation in the students to succeed in their second language. A classroom that wants success needs motivation. Word count: 813 Reference List Arnold, J. (1999). Affect in Language Learning. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Leaver, B. L., Ehrman, M., & Shekhtman, B. (2005). Achieving Success in Second Language Acquisition. Melbourne, Australia: Cambridge University Press. Lightbrown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How Languages are Learned. New York, usa: Oxford University Press. Lightbrown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2006). How Languages are Learned (Third ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. Nunan, D. (2006). Second Language Teaching & Learning. Boston: Heinle, Cengage Learning. Reis Alves, A. (2008, November). The Good Language Learner. Birmingham.