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  1. vivi

    Please, delete this thread.

    Apart from Mr K's contribution the rest has been completely useless and the thread title may be misleading.
    Last edited by vivi; 25-Nov-2004 at 07:39. Reason: I'm taking my message elsewhere

  2. Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland

    • Join Date: Sep 2004
    • Posts: 566

    Re: Students' motivation

    Dear Vivi,

    I would very much like to help you; it's just that with the scarce amount of information available to me I may not be the best judge of the situation.

    I used to teach English to learners of all levels up to and including the FCE preparation course. I worked for a private language college offering evening classes available to the public. That meant that my students were persons of all walks of life, with vastly varying general education, background, occupational status, age and ... MOTIVATION.

    I frequently encountered individuals who, similarly to the case you describe, thought that, once they'd reached a certain level of competence in English, there was very little they would to do to raise it even higher. It happened very often that such persons changed their attitude when confronted with a sample exam for one of the Cambridge certificates, depending on the level they represented at that time. Invariably, it was a humiliating experience even for those who regarded themselves as quite proficient simply because they were one of the top students in their grammar school's English class.

    Preparation for a Cambridge exam, at least here where I live, is perceived by many as a naturally evolving phase of English education. Moreover, it poses a challenge which in itself can provide students with ample motivation to go further in development of their language skills. Cambridge examinations preparation courses are well structured, and the modern coursebooks are interesting enough to attract the learners' attention and keep them busy for some time, even if they eventually decide not to sit the exam session.

    The fact that the preparation course students have a clearly set goal is not to be neglected, too.

    FCE has become particularly popular here in Poland, even among secondary school students. Many of them even think CAE is the way to go because 'nowadays everyone's got the First Certificate' (an exaggerated statement, to be sure, but a motivating one, no doubt.)

    Excuse my rambling on without end. I don't know what the availability of Cambridge exams is where you teach, but if there's any chance to go to such length, try to get the individual you refer to in your post interested in taking some exam-biased sample tests. They will at least indicate which particular language skills are not his strongest points, and may encourage him to work harder to improve those left behind skills.

    Good luck in whatever path you choose to follow.


    Tee Kay

  3. vivi

    Re: Students' motivation

    Thanks for your reply and here's more info. The case in hand is 15 y.o. (I suppose a bit early to think about FCE but we had it in mind as we set off working through Merphy's grammar last year and we're not even halfway through the FCE Grammar & Vocabulary by L. Prodromou this year). He's a 'quick study' but he lacks motivation to do things properly. He zips through his home assignment in thirty minutes before class, no wonder it's often done in a slipshod manner with whole parts missing.

  4. Editor,
    English Teacher
    • Member Info
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      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
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      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 61,475

    Re: Students' motivation

    Give him a CPE exercise and show him how much he still needs to learn.

    • Join Date: Jul 2004
    • Posts: 228

    Re: Students' motivation

    Dear Colleagues:

    Who amongst those who have chosen to teach at the University level in Shanghai, China have not experienced at least one of the following phenomenon?

    • Boys congregate in the back of the classroom, as far from the teacher as possible.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys who sit in the back of the classroom are not attentive.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys who sit in the back of the classroom play computer games on their mobile phone.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys who sit in the back of the classroom read books unrelated to the course.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys who sit in the back of the classroom have, at a minimum, bloodshot red eyes or go so far as to actually put their head on the desk, close their eyes and go to sleep.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys who sit in the back of the classroom fail to participate in the discussion.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys who sit in the back of the classroom have a higher number of absences.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys who sit in the back of the classroom show up for the course review lecture and the final exam.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys who sit in the back of the classroom usually receive lower final grades.
    never ___ seldom ___ frequent ___ always ____

    • Boys are generally less motivated then girls.
    Agree ____ Disagree ____

    • Girls outnumber boys by about 8 to 2.
    True ____ False ____

    Having observed these phenomenon in numerous Shanghai Universities, a survey was conducted of 350 non-English majors (Physical Education, Sports Management, Chemistry, Public Administration, Civil Engineering and History) enrolled in an English conversation class at a major South Shanghai University (See Appendix A for representative responses) and 130 Business majors enrolled in a major North Shanghai University. (See Appendix B for representative responses) All of the students surveyed were in the last year of their current undergraduate program and were close to graduating.

    The students were asked the following question:

    Using no more than one paragraph, please tell me why girls attend class more regularly than the boys; why the girls seem more motivated than the boys; why the girls come to class prepared while the boys do not; and why the girls participate in the class more than the boys.

    The students’ responses fell into clearly discernable categories.

    The responses from the males at both the North and South Shanghai universities fell into six categories:
    • Categorical denials that the situation occurs; or occurs as a misperception at the North Shanghai university arising from the high ratio of girls to boys in each class.
    • Shifting blame to the females as being equally unmotivated.
    • Acknowledgement that boys have too many extra-curricular activities such as playing sports, playing computer games, job interviews, and a perception that the course material has no direct benefit.
    • Girls are just better at 2nd language acquisition
    • Blame the teacher.
    • Claim females are showing off for male teacher.

    The responses from the females at both the North and South Shanghai universities fell into eight categories:
    • University age females are more mature than the males.
    • University age females have a greater appreciation for the value of an education.
    • Traditionally, Chinese women are more attuned to following instructions and performing well.
    • Chinese women are more concerned with losing face than the males.
    • The males have more activities such as sports and playing CP games.
    • The males are lazy.
    • Women care about their grades while men just care about passing due to a prejudice in employment that favors males.
    • The males think they are so clever they can listen to the course summary and pass the final exam.

    It does not matter if we teachers agree or disagree with the students’ opinions, or whether the students are in fact right or wrong. What is important is that we understand our students’ thinking and beliefs and deal with our students’ realities.

    Our concern should be to know why certain of our students are chronic underachievers so that we can devise appropriate strategies to motivate them to achieve according to their potential, so that when they graduate they may make an appropriate contribution to China’s better off society. Why should we be concerned? As you read the students’ answers, please consider that they are about to graduate and even the motivated students’ English is so very poor. What chance do the unmotivated students’ have when they graduate? The answer may appear in a recent China Daily article (See Appendix D.)

    What type of motivation will work on the male Chinese university student?

    One method, of final resort, is chronicled in Appendix C along with some of the students’ written responses.

    Your written responses to the above questionnaire and your suggestions for motivating the unmotivated will be appreciated and attributable, if you wish, in a forthcoming journal article.

    Warm regards,

    Martin Wolff

    November 20, 2004

    • Join Date: Jul 2004
    • Posts: 228

    Re: Students' motivation



    Dear Professor ______,

    Long time no see. I am dreamed of taking your lesson again.

    Thank you for giving us so many wonderful moments.

    There are many causes for the problem. But they come down to four majors:

    Firstly, it is much easier for the boys to find jobs than the girls. Because girls should do a lot of things such as being pregnant while boys shouldn’t. That might influence the job. So the boss would like to employ a boy rather than a girl. Therefore, girls must study really hard to meet the requirements of the society.

    Secondly, boys are very immature. They will not think too much of their future. Only they know is relaxation, playing games, surfing on the net, sleeping etc. On the contrary, girls make their effort to learn everything well so that they can lay a solid foundation for their future.

    Thirdly, girls have much more talent in learning languages. They have some gift of learning languages. So they become very interested in English and pay much attention to learning it. Maybe they are eager to find a foreign husband by learning English well.

    Finally, boys have a high stress. After graduation, they must find a good job and set up their own family. They try their best to support the whole family. They think now is the best time of their life. They try to grasp this opportunity to enjoy their lives. And they don’t like to consider too much.

    In conclusion, I think boys need more help and care. In an Oral English Class, you should pay much attention to them.

    Wish you happy all day!



    “Because the different educational menthod and cutural in china. Nowdays boys are becoming more and more timid while the girls are becoming more and more powerful.They got the higher grades. Because the girls know that their future will be harder than the boys. When girls graduates from the schools, in the same situation, the same certificates, the same experience, the companies would rather choice the boys.The problem is the sexual discrimination.So if girls want to get a good job,they shall pay more than boys.Second. With the Women's Lib, the girls want to be more powerful than boys.They want to get much more things than boys do.So they study harder .Third.The boys are attivte,they wold rather spend time on ports and games than just listen the teachers.They want a stage to show themselves. But when you ask the girls to answer the question,they will feel that just girls' bussiness.They will not be interested in that. So if you give more opportunities for boys to talk,they will do a perfect job.And the fourth,yuu did spend more time for the students on the net. The boys will feel dull and not spend every minutes in the class. But the girls are more patient.That's the problems.

    Best regard


    Dear _____,

    The answers for the questions you bring out,in my opinion,have a lot to do with the boys'indivisual habitants.Maybe they don't regard them as one of our family,because they are very independant.Most boys are interested in PC games and some other sports ones.They may spend lots of time on them.Thus they will set aside little on class.Some boys'goal is just to pass the lesson.So they don't care how much they learn,which shows that the boys participate in the class discussions little than the girls.


    Girls are easier to supervise.They come to class regularly does not

    mean they are favour of the class,they just strickly comform to the

    rules.Boys are more energetic,they usually want to do something to show

    their unique.The difference between boys and girls are their attitude

    towards study.In my opinion,girls focus too much on grade while boys study

    for abilities.That is why boys often miss class or do not prepare.


    because you are a gentleman, a handsome man.if a wondeful lady,boys will

    have more interests.and in china boys are always have less word than girls,they wont be

    willing to speak in the class,even they prepare for it. you can see that if a

    boy look at you ,he will have the answer.if the boy low his head,you should dont ask him,excpt you want punish last, thank you for teach me.bye bye


    • Join Date: Jul 2004
    • Posts: 228

    Re: Students' motivation


    I think the boys are more like to play.Nowadays,computer games are very popular.The boys always play games very late at night,so they have no more energy to behave activity in the class.And have no more time to prepare for the class. And if they play games all the night,they would rather to sleep than to attend class.And another point is that the English Class is not a class which has much relationship with there major,(I don’t know how to express) It means that it is enough to get an C or 60,and it will not affect them to get theBachelor Degree. And they think you’re kind enough to give them the score at least C. So they don’t worry about your class and their score. The last but not the least is that girls are more mature than the boys, we have realized the importance of English when we find a job, but the boys don’t. All they know in the college, I think, is playing and love. J___

    Dear _____:
    I'm so happy that you still miss us!
    About the question why girls are more diligent than boys in the study not only English what I think is that boys think they are more clever than girls and if only they can do well in the test is enough.The boys just want to pass the exam when the girls want to get good mark in the axam.The boys prefer play to study though the girls also like play.The girls know what is more important for them.On the other hand,there are still a part of some boys study hard and get good mark in the college.Unfortunately only a little boys do.
    If a girl can study English well then she can find a good job just because her Enlish well but the boy can find job easier than the girl.The pressure make girls study Enlish hard than boys. L___

    i think it has been a trend that girls work harder than boys.
    in some old people's mind ,they think that the gene of girls and boys r different.they think boys have better talent than girls.,so if boys and girls do the same thing at the same time,they think boys will do it better and use the less time.and it has been a common sence in a lot of people's mind.maybe this is the reason that some girls want to prove themselves.and with the time going on,it has been a trend.
    another aspect,maybe the difference of the personality.girls r much more careful and kinder and girls maybe r easier to calm down to study.and use more time to study.and in the end,girls do better than boys.
    now,more and more girls work hard and their performances r better than boys.
    so professor,what i said is just my opinion,i hope what i said can give u some help.

    Dear ______,

    I used to be your student in ________ ______ University. Thank you for your teaching and helping.

    In China girls are more diligent than boys, because we think that only learning can change our life. But boys they have many other talents. They are more stronger than girls, so can do many hard works, which girls can’t do. And they maybe think they are smarter than girls.

    Second, In China a lot of knowledge must be remembered. Boys can’t pay more attention on tests. That’s why boys are always good at math while girls are good at language.

    Why are girls always chatting in class? This reason is very easy. All the women in the world like talking. They can talk in everywhere and in every time.

    I hope that my ideas can help you to know more about Chinese students.

    Wish your new job happy!

    Keep in touch! L__

    P.S. Give you a picture of mine, hope you will like it!


    maybe girls do not dare to defy their teachers.we prefer to be praised

    than to be punished.boys want to show that they have grown up and they

    care China,girls are always so sweet:) C____

    Dear ,

    It's a good question, but unfortunately I don't know the correct

    answer. I just try my best.

    As we all know, girls are always more patient and diligent. They

    prepared regularly and finished the homework more earnest while boys

    played the football and PC games. Almost in every class girls seem more

    motivated than the boys, coming to class prepared while the boys do not and

    participating in the class discussions more than the boys.

    The only way that can make boys come to class regularly is

    rollcalling every class. And tell them, if you don't attend the class,

    you lose your score. But sometimes some boys even didn't afraid of failing.

    Of course, if the class is really attact students, all of them

    would coming and attend actively. But English is not our mother lanuage, so

    it's difficult to enjoy the lessons.

    May you be more succeed.


    • Join Date: Jul 2004
    • Posts: 228

    Re: Students' motivation



    The reason is that many boys are not willing to go to the lesson,and they don't want to learn anything,except how to better play PC Net games and how to pursuing girls. This problem is not just happened in your course but also in other course,including those taguht by chinese. However,I don't think no boys in this class are thinking, I do, and I can

    list some boys who are really thinking in the class. Finally, I want to tell you a small hint to figure out who are willing to take the class, may be you have already discovered that. Generally, people who sit in the front are willing to attend the class, are motivated and thinking.I have learned many things from you, not only marketing.” B-M

    “The reasons I think is that girl's English level are higher than boys, which could make them accept the information easily. Another is girl's interestings are less than boys, which could make them concetrate on doing homework easily. Finally, the age of the mental of girls are elder than boys respectively. Those reasons why girl's attentation higher than boys I think”

    “In school, not only in Chinese university, but also in elementary school, girl students behave more actively than boy students. It is largely due to the Chinese culture and what we learnt from our childhood. Chinese society requires girls to be docile and decent, be careful to everything and obey the certain rules wherever they engage in. However, boys are required opposite. To be masculine, adventruous, liking to challenge conservative rules are motivated. It is similar as the X and Y theory in organizational behavior. Girls behave more actively than boys in class becasue they are aiming at the high grade and want to get scholarships while boys are not. Boys putting a little energy into study just want to pass the course. They prefer to spend their time and energy on other things like sports,clubs,games,social work,pursuing girls etc. In their value system, studying on books is useless. If there were no exams in college, boys would not come to class everyday. Girls are seldom seen on the playground when boys are playing football and basketball. What are they doing? They are studying in dormitory, in classrooms, in library. Therefore, girls can prepare beforehand, participate in class, attend class regularly and more positive than boys. In other words, girls like studying while boys avert from studying.” B-L

    “1.Most girls can speak English better than boys.
    2.Girls always say more than boys.
    3.Girls are more diligent than boys in Chinese education system.” B-L

    “I think girls will pay more attention on what teachers told them to do,on the contrary, boys will more like to do what they want. And in this semester, boys should take more time on finding jobs.” B-L

    “Students all like to be praised by their teachers. Although someone do worse job than the others, he or she still want to be motivated by the teachers.But teachers always do not pay much attention to this point. What happened? These kind of students treat their jobs as rubbish, because they lose themselves in their studies. It is a Chinese Saying,"Do not care about broken bottles, because they have been broken before. "Most teachers treat them as broken bottles, what they can do?” B-M

    “I think the reason is that boys just focus on how to pass the course,while girls care more about learning something useful.We have different purposes,so we take different action and have different attitude with the course.Girls take more time preparing the cases when boys prefer spend the time in on-line games,most of the boys did not prepare for the class for two reasons:lazy and lack of self-control” B-M.

    “Just like in the stock market, man will take more risks than women to earn more profits. If they do not interested in the class, they will not take time on it. However, girls are often afraid to be blamed by teachers. In my view, that's why.” B-L

    “In our class,the girls are much more than the boys.So it looks that girls often answer the questions even though the boys also answer it. Then some girls like talking in the class, but most boys do not answer the questions initiatively. It does not mean that they are not participate in the class.” B-L

    • Join Date: Jul 2004
    • Posts: 228

    Re: Students' motivation

    “Maybe the reason is simply you are a male teacher. And girls have more time to read or preparing for the course while boys are playing. In fact, girls do did hard work before class than boys. Usually, girls care the high mark very much, not only in your course. Most of boys are lazy, maybe me too.” B-M

    • Join Date: Jul 2004
    • Posts: 228

    Re: Students' motivation


    “Our Chinese teachers also think the girl always pay more attention to the classes than the boy. I think it has got many reasons:first, boys always spend more time on games. Such as PC game and many sports games. Second, most of the boys are lazier than the girl.They intend to sleep intead of doing their homework. Furthermore, Chinese people always say: the boy are more immaturity than the girl until they realize the responsbility they have. Sometimes, one boy turn to play, then others will follow, as a result, this group of boys all neglect their classes.” G-M

    “We generation, most of the boys r still pretty babyhood. They don't pay more attention of the attendence or even fail of the class. i don't think they realize that all our tuition fee is paid by our parents and if we fail, all the restudy fee also from parents. They DO NOT CARE. All these age boys thinking about most is PC games or wooing girls.Although there are some good boys do really want learn sth. But not in this class i believe. Maybe they r in some famouse university like FuDan or BeijingUniversity. also should be a bachelor's degree student.”

    “The boys are more sluggish . They think they make great efforts to pass so long as have an examination in the last week . So the attending rate is lower than the the girls. Girl students study diligently, They are not merely for through the examination, but in order to take the high score. So they are used to preview, and know how to hold classroom time each time to study new knowledge.” G-L

    “In exterior aspect, school can accept only boys during the past time. Therefore, girls treasure the chance to learn than boys today. They want to improve that Girl students are more outstanding than the boy students. When look for job; companies prefer boys than girls, girls have to work hard than boys for get a good job. In inner aspect, girl students

    are overcautious before the examination, The attending rate occupies certain proportion in total points at the end of term, if someone do not do well in the final exam, participation sometimes do help when wander up and down between passing and failing .The boy's thought is more late-maturing than that of the girl£¬during the student age. Girls display looks like adults even more than that of the boys. They demonstrate the

    sense of responsibility, calm, steady and industrious earlier. In a word, the pressure of the society and physiological of different sex are the important factors which causing girls more outstanding than the boys in most schools now. But the situation will change after they work”. G-L

    ”Because most people think that women are disadvantage group, so women themselves should work harder to prove their abilities. Furthermore, women will spent much time to bring children so they will cherish each minute to learn more when they have time.” G-L

    “It's really a common phenomenon in each Chinese school. I confirm that the boys are more intelligent than girls in some certain aspects, but our girls are more modest and hard-working.” G-L

    “because girls study more hard than boys, they want to achieve the homework better than others, they want to successful in their job.” G-L

    “I think boys just do not express themselves well. Most of them were also prepare for the class,but they didn't actively answer your question. As true, girls are more hardworking, they want to get high marks, but some boys don't care,and they just want to pass.” G-L

    “I think girls are have more free time than boys because most of the boys are like playing computer games. The course are more suitable for girls because girls can accept information more quickly, and I found that this teaching method can result two extremeness: one is that students will think this couse is a new challenge for those who want to learn a good learning method and can get more recent information which can help in the future work or study. The other is the students( most of the boys) think this course will make them under great pressure, although they want to learn, they can only spend some time, and when they see a lot of original reading marterials, they will think it will be no end and then give up.”

    “Maybe there are two reason: firstly, most of boys may more lazy than

    girls. They don't want to spend more time on study, and they are

    interested in playing game than studying. Another reason is in our class girls

    much more than boys, and girls are more activly than boys. They are

    willing to express themselves at present.” G-L

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