Teaching English: Increasing Learning Motivation


The article aims to develop a framework to examine the causes for poor intensity of Russian students’ motivation in foreign language learning. The research highlights the potential usefulness of the main means and ways of increasing motivation. This problem is especially relevant for many students who cannot see any perspectives of foreign language learning. Students’ motivation can show positive upward tendency only in case of creating individual interest and acquiring the skills to achieve language tasks. A favourable and comfortable environment arise personal interest and motivates students to speak language both inside and outside the classroom. This has been achieved primarily through the paying attention to various ways of increasing motivation. Among the ways of increasing motivation are the content of teaching and ways of learning activities, which can be particularly targeted to motivate students and provide them with suitable materials and activities in class. But the work is to be done in several directions, as the students’ background plays a leading role in internal motivation: the social environment or disappointing work as well as a poor attitude of family and school to studying foreign languages will not boost the learning motivation. The main principles of selecting training materials are described.

Keywords: Students’ motivationlanguage competenceforeign language proficiencycognitive needlanguage interesttraining materials


In the circumstance of globalizing world and the joining of an increasing number of countries the world economic system, a need for the specialists able to work worldwide is to a great extent in demand. For the Russian Federation this issue presents an even greater challenge because of its previous seclusion from the rest of the world by the Iron Curtain. In USSR times and long after there was no necessity to learn foreign languages. The country was almost impossible to leave: a trip to Eastern bloc countries in those years was a very rare success, and a journey to the rival countries (the USA, NATO alliance members) was forbidden. Having foreign languages out of use, and, respectively, not really interested in teaching languages for communication the country experienced a complete lack of motivation to learn foreign languages.

Problem Statement

The openness towards the rest of the world, the appearance of the market economy in recent years, and as well as need for negotiation, trade, and cooperation rehabilitated relevance of English-speaking specialists. Speaking English and other foreign languages In Russia is most often associated with related professional activities (for example translator, teacher), while in other countries foreign language is a means to increase personal competitiveness in any profession. Therefore, the new world concept has not got accustomed here.

Usually the graduates of Russian higher education institutions are prepared as specialists only for the national market. As a result, the situation is more complicated than it seemed to be due to the several factors: underdeveloped career planning, education particularities, problems with the acknowledgment of Russian diplomas abroad and foreign companies’ drawdown due to the sanctions, the young generation experiences a weak motivation to acquire foreign languages.

Cambridge is one of the most active promoters of English language worldwide. It implements a wide range of assessment tests to measure and evaluate the performance in the learning and teaching English both for general and professional purposes. The researchers’ team have created the TKT (Teaching Knowledge Test), this test includes wide range of modules to assess the methods of teaching the language.

The communicative approach is the main basis for designing this specialized Cambridge exam.

We can mention here the CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning). It is another module testing teachers’ competence in disciplines taught in English. This specially designed module tests and assesses lesson planning skills in the context of using English not as a goal itself, but as a means of presentation materials in different areas of studying. Thus, the University of Cambridge via promoting teaching in a foreign language provides further popularization of English all over the world (Larsen-Freeman & Anderson, 2011).

As for the Russian Federation, English language as a means of teaching is a rare thing. Just a few well-known universities offer English-language programs. As for schools the situation is even worse: just in some private schools and gymnasiums a number of school subjects are taught in a foreign language.

The real involvement in the process of active language using is the only motivator to acquire language proficiency. In case this kind of activity is in demand people are really motivated to study and speak language fluently. And being commercially successful education is promoted including through the teaching some disciplines in this language since school days. Thus, the Scandinavian countries enjoy high level of English proficiency due to the partial teaching of school subjects in English. Moreover, dubbing is not being used in releasing foreign language, the audience enjoy them in the original language. Hollywood film production is leading the industry, and students in Scandinavian countries face the need to study English for entertaining. The level of students’ motivation is much poorer in Russia as the situation is not common for our country (Parashchenko et al., 2018).

Research Questions

Clear understanding of the prospects for using the language in the immediate future: when learning or continuing education, in the professional growth and career development at the local, national, and international levels can help increase the motivation and encourage the aspiration to learn a foreign language. Every attempt should be designed to meet the needs and interests of a student: the curriculum improving, highlighting of the significant aspects, updated training programs, altered methods of language teaching.

Purpose of the Study

Motivation is a main source of human activity at any sphere of human endeavour. On the other hand, we consider motivation as a number of factors affecting the individuals’ behaviour, maintained at a definite level. Two types of motivation – external and internal, move any person forward. Public esteem, public image and reputation in the social environment, as well as the prospects for the potential well-paid job can be highlighted as main springs of external motivation. The background received in the family and school forms internal motivation, mostly based on the level of education, internal needs, and students’ personal attitude.

We can start with an example of a negative factor affecting external motivation: some students learn foreign languages only because it is included in the curriculum. And speaking about positive motivation we can distinguish two different types: on the one hand family attitudes affect internal motivation, and some students believe that speaking language is important for every well-educated person, on the other hand social attitudes usually affect external motivation and a number of students eager to study the other countries’ culture, to watch the original video content, as well as to communicate with foreign colleagues.

Here is worth mention some demotivational factors: the time a person has to spend learning a foreign language, some additional costs required for better learning; moreover although it can be valuable at work or for participating in conferences, for some students the absence of immediate prospects for foreign language using is one of the most dangerous factors reducing motivation.

Research Methods

The sample survey conducting among students on the reasons prompting them to learn a foreign language helps recognise these aspects.

The potential ways to boost the students motivation to learn foreign languages including teaching an academic subject in a foreign language or presenting projects in English are perceived to be extremely effective because the language is used as a means and the only way to understand the subject lies in an perfect understanding of the language used for teaching (Miroshnichenko, 2016).

For students developing language and cognitive skills goes hand in hand with shaping their sociocultural skills, fostering interest and respect for the culture of target-language countries, creating a communicative potential.


Studies have shown that an improvement in increase student motivation can be achieved by various ways.

The first way to help buster motivation is the teaching materials and programs updating. The main principles of choosing materials for the students are:


The language material is used for solving real everyday problems; students in that case are emotionally involved in work.

Personal and professional orientation.

Usually students really appreciate all the topics related to their future profession. They carry out tasks connected with themes and vocabulary devoted to the profession; it practices an increased personal confidence and confidence.


Foreign language is considered as a clue to get information within the frameworks of studied disciplines. This kind of materials, in turn, helps to comprehend the studied subject from diverse perspectives, as well as to encourage motivation to further language learning.

Authentic texts.

Non-adapted foreign-language materials from Internet and other open sources are beneficial for the students. They helps to increase the communicative competence, the skills to work with sources in various languages without the help of a translator or a teacher (Shilova, 2017).

The next stage is sustainable organization of the learning:

The process should involve the development of subject-to-subject relations based on the principle that a student is an active part of the academic process.

The main aim is his/her maximum involvement, active interaction with a teacher, implying his/her complete personal self-fulfillment in the language learning.

Feedback from the teacher is required at every moment of the lesson from mentioning the main tasks and creating an understanding of their importance to comments on lesson results in terms of each student’s achievement.

A clearly expressed task meeting students’ needs is required. Based on the communicative principle, it is meant to be a particular solution for speech difficulties. Teacher is to pay much attention to the explanation reasons, ways, styles and situations for work with the material when learning the English language (Mironova, 2006).

The appropriate structure of teamwork is relevantly important. When presenting a collective project, an indifferent student has to perform and play according to the team’s rules; otherwise his/her groupmates may criticize him/her. It contributes to increasing motivation even among the most uninterested students. Even a minimally motivated student is able to perform his/her part of the general task, thus a student is gradually becoming involved in the process, and this will foster the overall motivation (Avetisyan, 2017).

In addition, ICT tools and various learning Internet sources through active gamification can encourage student motivation. Interactive learning is quite effective if it takes into account individual characteristics and creates favorable learning environment.


The problem of undermotivation has long been under a magnifying glass of educators and psychologists. Many researches offer various methods to increase student motivation. Based on the results we make the following observations: an issue of motivation in learning English is highly significant in Russia due to some historic particularities. This indicates a need to take action in order to overcome the consequences of long period of total demotivation. Some ways to resolve the problem are mentioned in the research but much on this issue is to be study in future.


The publication was prepared with the support of the RUDN University Program 5-100.


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08 December 2020

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Linguistics, modern linguistics, translation studies, communication, foreign language teaching, modern teaching methods

Cite this article as:

Kartseva, E., & Tavberidze, D. (2020). Teaching English: Increasing Learning Motivation. In & V. I. Karasik (Ed.), Topical Issues of Linguistics and Teaching Methods in Business and Professional Communication, vol 97. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 33-38). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.12.02.5