Student’s Motivation Techniques
| Dr. HC Vassilakou Evangelia - 16 Jun 2021

I am Eleni Tzaikou, self-employed at Tzaikou Language Centre, Greece as an English and Spanish teacher. I completed my MA and BA in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Previously I taught English at ISON Language Centre and G. Kiriakidou Language Centre.
  I have worked on multiple projects on topics like ‘The Origin of Human Language’, ‘A Case of a two-direction Borrowing between two languages: Greek and Turkish, as a way of enriching languages’ and ‘Culture as a variable in the use of strategies in learning English as a Foreign Language’
  I know 8 languages including English, Spanish, French, Italian, Turkish, Russian, Bulgarian, and German with variable levels of proficiencies. I enjoy listening to music, Oriental Dance, Marketing, and reading whenever my schedule allows.

In the course of last year, online teaching reached an all-time peak. Teachers had to become ingenious to maintain learners’ motivation high. Various platforms were recruited to replace face-to-face experiential learning with games, quizzes, and applications to satisfy learners and keep them engaged in the learning process. Initially, schools and teachers who were already acquainted with various technological tools had an advantage while others had to struggle to adapt to the new situation. Being a teacher who always was in favor of technology, I realized that I had to take it one step further if I wanted to be pioneering so I came up with a project that included Virtual Field trips to entice my students to keep their efforts unabated throughout the pandemic.
  I have to admit that as a teacher of English and Spanish and a language school owner, I was among the first who used VR headsets in my classes a couple of years ago and noticed that my students were enthusiastic about it.
 Back then, VR technology was not very advanced, and augmented reality applications were scarce. Nevertheless, my studies on Applied Linguistics and especially my MA courses helped me visualize a process that would demand that students put into practice many learning strategies to implement a project assigned to them before going on a Virtual Field trip.
   My project included their acquaintance with various cultures and people through studying UNESCO World Heritage Monuments. The procedure used is simple and easily applicable. The teacher picks a monument and asks students warm-up questions to elicit their prior knowledge. In the second stage, learners need to apply various social strategies while collaborating in break-out rooms to find information on the web using sources such as Wikipedia, YouTube, and online newspapers which also promotes class bonding and has affective strategies at play since it decreases weaker students’ anxiety.
  What are more, students learn to empathize with other cultures or sensitive crises worldwide? It is also noteworthy that compensation strategies are utilized since students need to guess unknown words in texts that might be more demanding than their level in the TL while investigating a particular monument.
 The next step is presenting their findings in groups and engaging in constructive discussions in class during their next session. They are supposed to create a PowerPoint presentation after reading set articles and watching certain videos. In this part, metacognitive strategies are at play since they must determine what to include or exclude, listen to their peer’s presentation, and then self-evaluate their efforts and their learning outcomes.
  The final stage includes the long-awaited  VR field trip. I make a presentation including their findings, interesting or weird facts and in the end, we go on a virtual tour of the place using Nearpod or other applications where we have the chance to appreciate the Monument that we learned so much about. End-of-class activities and Kahoot or Quizziz games are a way to celebrate our knowledge and since we want to share our joy we collaborate with schools from other cities or countries who are our ‘’guest students’’ and play together or show our projects.
 I must admit that this project helped me keep my student’s interest high throughout the quarantine, motivate them and help them realize that we learn English to use it as a vehicle to learn many more things and it is nothing about learning grammar rules or vocabulary. We learned history, culture and use critical thinking while having fun. VR Field trips can constitute authentic learning environments where students learn the language in context.
  Our very first VR trip was to the India Taj Mahal and we were exhilarated throughout the process. My students were impressed with the building’s architecture, symbolism, and the love story behind the great mausoleum. We shared our project with other students in Greece and every day this is getting bigger. We are looking forward to collaborating with more schools shortly.

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