Motivation is defined as an intrinsic or extrinsic power that drives a person to perform some actions to achieve a desired goal. Motivation goes hand in hand with desire and ambition. If an individual has no ambition, it is very likely that he has little or no motivation to succeed. Motivation helps to activate a person’s determination, increase his will-power and perseverance to achieve the intended goals (Daniels, 2010). If there is lack of motivation, there will be no inner willingness to strive for excellence in everyday life.

Motivation can be applied to any activity, be it learning, acquiring a language, accomplishment in the classroom or getting a good grade in the examination. It is one of the most vital frameworks of success. If students lack motivation, they will not learn in the class. If there is no motivation, indeed there is no enthusiasm and ambition. As such, motivation is the driving force of success (Yucel, 2009). Research (Jussim, 2005) indicates that the student’s performance in the class is affected by his or her teacher’s expectations.

If the teacher has low expectations of her learners, the progress of the learners will be slow, even if the teaching materials are highly relevant or useful. Indeed, one of the most challenging tasks of a teacher is how to motivate the unmotivated learners.

In a traditional classroom where the teacher’s presence is dominant, learners generally have low self-esteem. They are not given much encouragement but are instead exhausted with learning and memorizing facts. Such overloading of the memory usually leads to feelings of frustration and anxiety, resulting in low motivation and disappointing performances.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the students in a traditional classroom perceive learning as a waste of time and avoid taking part in class activities. Prejudices and discrimination issues in the traditional classroom contributes to low self-esteem and low motivation. Minority students might even feel that they are sidelined and not given equal opportunities in the classroom.

To be able to motivate her learners, the teacher has to accept the diversity of her class population. There should not be discrimination of any kind. The teacher should cultivate a harmonious environment so that her students will feel that they are accepted by their peers and their teacher. When there is mutual acceptance, there will be a positive change of attitude and behavior in students, resulting in a highly- motivated class environment

Students should be given the opportunity to think critically and learn in a cooperative learning environment. When given such autonomy, the students will be more motivated and confident about their achievements. Uninvolved learners in the class feel bored and remain dependent on the teacher.

They memorize facts instead of thinking critically. Instructors, therefore, should encourage students to be active learners and problem- solvers in the classroom. There must be a real link between the classroom environment and the students’ daily lives. Students must be able to apply the knowledge or skills they have learnt or acquired in the class. Only then will they be motivated and strive to learn.

Research (Keengwe, 2010) has shown that cultural diversity and ethnic differences among learners affect classroom behavior to some extent. Therefore, instructors should take into consideration the learning styles of diverse cultures when they develop their instructional designs. Although it is not easy to accommodate all the needs and interests of students in a multi-racial class, it is advisable to make a thorough feasibility study to ensure that cultural diversity is incorporated in the instructional design. This will create mutual respect for the teacher and her students. When students feel at ease, they get along with their peers

Useful Guides for Teachers to Motivate Learners:

  1. Convince learners that they can really achieve their desire.

  2. Discuss with them to make sure they are clear about their goals and objectives.

  3. Visualize their dreams as if they had been fulfilled.

  4.  Inspire them with success stories about people who have already achieved their dreams.

  5. Remind them about the rewards when their educational goals are accomplished.

  6.  Encourage them to endure in their task completion.

  7. Allow them to role-play in a simulated real-life situation.