I think the key to being successful at teaching any topic, but particulary one that students are reluctant (I'm being diplomatic!) to learn is knowing your motivation. Why is it important to you and can you truthfully and specifically answer "Why do we have to learn this?" without resorting to "because it's the curriculum" or other such responses. If you don't know why you are teaching it, then they won't know or care why they are learning it. I think the poster who talked about bringing in a former student was on the right track. Maybe it worked in past eras, but the nature of today's students is that they cannot be taught in a vacuum. Learning for it's own sake is beautiful and precious, but is a skill that students must come to on their own. First we have to show them why and how English not only important and neccessary, but beneficial to them. The more real world type assignments you use, the more this will make sense to them.
I have discovered that one of the best motivators in the classroom, for anything really, is getting students to like the teacher.
Once I had a good reputation at my school--not for easiness or even niceness--once students started to really like me, they seemed more motivated to do almost anything.
Building a personal repoire with your students is one of the best things you can spend time on as a teacher. Think about your favorite teachers of all time. Wouldn't you have pretty much done your best on anything for them?
One of the things I did to motivate my students was to show them examples of adults who had not learned proper English. I would pass around a business e-mail (from a friend's business, not from the school) with the names and proprietary information removed. They would see how unprofessional and down-right silly the person looked when they sent a business e-mail that was filled with grammatical errors and mistakes. I would also show examples of what we were working on. For example, I showed my seniors examples of bad resumes. They were much more motivated to learn the proper English rules when they saw the outcome and consequences of not learning them.
Finding something that students enjoy reading is often a catalyst for their eagerness to learn English. Another motivator are American movies and songs. In Europe, teens ask Americans what something an actor said in a movie means, or something in a song because American films and songs are prevalent.
As mentioned in post 1, a guest speaker is an excellent idea to motivate students to learn English. I have former students come in and talk about the work force and how learning the English language helped them in their careers. One student in particular is a policeman. He tells the students how much he hated to write. Now, he is thankful that I offered him many opportunities to write. Now, he uses the skills he learned everyday as part of his job. This is one way to motivate students to learn English.
I think the best way to motivate student in any subject is to make it relevant to them. As a chemistry teacher, it is often hard for students to understand why a certain topic is important to them. I try to use lots of examples in class that show why you need to understand something. If they can see how they will use the language in their every day lives, then that might help. Having them do every day tasks (ordering food, dealing with customer service rep, etc) might help them see the relevance.
My immediate thought when I read this question was that it pertained to students who do not read or write English well because it is their second language. Such students were often placed in a regular class because their speaking skills were reasonable and they interpreted for their parents. However, speaking requires different skills than reading or writing. Just as I could not catch the exact sound or look of a word in Spanish which I showed them, they were not catching the endings of words in spoken English. Knowing that I had the same problem helped them see it could be overcome. What appeared to be reluctance was actually a lack of understanding. Reading aloud to them helped. Working in carefully created small groups helped. Using Kagan techniques in that small group forced each person to be responsible for an answer or a sentence to read to the group. Each small step built success which led to a better attitude and eventually to the motivation to do better. Written notes mailed home for the smallest positive helped. I agree that mixing it up helps such as students writing questions on cards, walking around the room to exchange them, and giving answers to each other. Putting teacher created cards on students' backs and the student trying to guess what the card said by other students asking them questions about the topic without telling them the actual word. I used to have them write a note to their friend about looking for a job, and then write the note to grandma, and again to a prospective employer. We then discussed the difference in the language used in each situation which also helped. If this is not what your question intended, answer one would be more helpful.
Teaching another language is a very difficult thing to do especially in places where being bilingual or having knowledge of a second language is very unpopular. This makes it very difficult to mobilizing students. However in my journey of learning other languages learning the culture of the language always had me asking what something meant which would lead to more debate and discussion. First figure out what English you are teaching, since English is so world wide now there are so many backgrounds behind it. Some cultural things you could share to peak the interest if you were teaching American English would be current pop culture and movies. If you are teaching them England English you could introduce types of food like shepherds pie. The choices are abundant!
Give them treats for being good like candy or little toys.
English is a must because it is needed for jobs and during school . Learning English can actually be a fun a good thing because you're learning another language and you can make more friends because you can speak the same language as them.
Make it fun and interesting! Occasionally allow them to write about what they want. Find ways to inspire them. Pick topics that apply to the times they live in, or ones that are "truly" important. Things they might care about. Don't always say "write a 1000 word essay" accept different forms of writing in which the student can express his/her self.
My English teacher, last year, got us all to create a Facebook page for each of the characters in Romeo and Juliet. It was a really great idea and got all of us so motivated! We had to write on each others' walls, post a status, get a profile picture, comment on other activities, etc. I think that was a perfect idea to get teens to understand and enjoy Shakespeare! Hope I helped. :)
THe only way to motivate students is to have fun while teaching. get everyone involved and do group activities that are actually fun. Students learn better from eachother alot more than they get from teachers and putting students to work together in class is alot more productive than boring lectures which students hate. Make class more discussion and less work students will love you and get alot more involved. Don't make everything about grades have a few fun activities where students can get involved other than for marks.
English is needed for jobs and other qualifications. It is needed to progress in life. This is one of the main reasons we must take English throughout our entire high school years.
i personally i ask my students to read english newspapers. preferably statesmen, the hindu, and the times of india whose editorial pages are really good. and ifor students of 8 and 9 i ask them to make a small copy atleast write 1 quotation daily. and learn it up .then end of the month we have quiz. two things happen their vocabulary increases and they have started quoting them in their answers too. so in a way their writing skills also increased.. and they develop liking for novels reading etc . english gives confidence as todays world its imp language too. so to enhance their personality they reaally follow this and their grades are increasing too.