Motivation Stations

I’m currently teaching a B1 Intermediate class, 20 hours a week. As you may have experienced, students at intermediate level have sometimes lost their focus when it comes to learning English: they know that they can get by with the language they have, and it can be difficult to find the motivation to continue studying.

My group asked me if we could look at some more meaty discussion topics this week, and while I was searching for some prompts, I came across the excellent Talking Points series of worksheets from One of them was about ‘Learner Motivation‘ and it seemed like exactly the kind of thing I was looking for.

At the same time, I remembered a talk from by Matt Cutts, called ‘Try Something New for 30 Days‘, which is helpfully available with subtitles.

I decided to combine these and throw in a few more discussion points, dividing the students into four groups and the tasks into four ‘stations’.  Students moved around from one station to the next every 10-15 minutes. They watched the video using my iPad, but if you don’t have access to anything to play the video on, you could ask students to watch it before the class or give them that section for homework.

I had a paper version of the Powerpoint presentation, not including the first two slides or the last one. To save paper, you could print them as 2-per-page handouts (on the print screen, find the ‘print slides’ option, then select ‘handouts, 2 per page) which should be big enough for students to see clearly.

[To download, click ‘view on slideshare’. You may have to log in (not sure), but it’s completely free. You should then be able to click on ‘download’ above the document.]

Students could also be given the option to work through the presentation themselves, and think/write about the topics at home, ready for discussion in class.

With 10-15 minutes per station, none of the pairs did more than the first three activities from the ‘Learner Motivation’ sheet, so once they had all talked about every topic and we had discussed the final slide as a class, we went back to activity four and looked at how students could motivate themselves to work on their English, especially to learn vocabulary and to do their homework.

The students were motivated 🙂 and enjoyed discussing the topic. They were particularly interested in the video and the motivational quotes. We started the week with this lesson, and they have mentioned it again and again, especially the phrase ‘Carpe Diem’.

So seize the day and enjoy this lesson!

23 thoughts on “Motivation Stations

  1. Thanks for this Sandy. I’m teaching a similar type of group myself, and will probably try this on them one of these days. I’ll let you know how it goes.
    By the way, Jing is working out brilliantly – thanks for al the tips


  2. I listened to this TED a while ago but hadn’t thought of using it with students. The whole option of the subtitles hadn’t occured to me. Now I’m sure I’ll go to sleep wondering if I could adapt this for my teens. I’m oscillating between thinking they would love it to thinking they would say it is the stupidest thing they ever heard, doing challenges like that.
    As always, I leave your blog physically but think about it for hours to come!


    1. As far as I know, all of the TED talks are available with subtitles, and I think this one particularly lends itself to being used in a classroom because it is so short and potentially so controversial. When eavesdropping on my students, I did hear one person say “That’s stupid!”, but afterwards they were all interested in talking about it. Two of my students even decided that they were going to start learning 50 words a day for the next 30 days. I said that was a great goal but that 5-10 would probably be a lot more manageable 😉 One of them was definitely still doing it today, five days later, so even if it has only affected one student, that’s better than nothing!
      Hope it didn’t stop you from getting to sleep 😉


  3. Hi Sandy!
    Why oh why I always come across your ideas with one week delay? Just last week I discussed motivation with my B2 students – this video and your suggestions around it would have tied in so nicely with our discussion. Ah well… next time I guess.


  4. Thank you so much, Sandy! Your “Motivation Stations” will help those of my students who search for improvement not only in English.


  5. Hi Sandy,

    I´ll definitely end up using this. I´ve been thinking about coming up with a similar class for some time now and there you go-you did it for me;-)
    Lot of love


  6. Hi Sandy,
    I just came across your blog and reading this post made me simply HAPPY 🙂
    What a great idea! What a great TED video!
    I will try it myself, first. The 30 day challenge 😉
    And then I will wach the video in class with my students, plus discuss the topic of motivation.

    Can’t wait



    1. Thank you for the comment. Even if you’re only tutoring small groups, you can still use the materials. You will just end up having one to one or small group discussions instead. Maybe the students can deecide the order of the activities to give them a little control. I’d be interested to hear how it goes if you do choose to use the activity.


  7. this helps new teachers. teaching conversation classes is much more complicated and requires more motivating methods, especially when it comes to large numbers of students.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.