20 March 1st Cambridge Symposium Istanbul

Exams carrots or sticks?

How preparing for exams can inject focus and motivation into our English classes

Key slides from my plenary at the 1st Cambridge Istanbul Symposium, 20 March 2015


Why do we learn English?

To get a better job

To travel

To access culture

To access information

To communicate with people globally

Everyone whos anyone speaks English!


Our students need

immediate goals

a step by step approach

sense of direction



to get organised

see progress

a sense of success




Everyone can experience feelings of resolve and a commitment to think more and to dare more and of being poised to learn and ready to take the next step.
Martin V. Covington, The Will to Learn, Cambridge University Press


John Atkinsons Theory of Motivation:
    All individuals can be characterised by two learned drives, a motive to approach success and a motive to avoid failure.


The anticipation of success and its emotional correlates of pride and exhilaration combine to produce a trust in the future and in life in general.
John Atkinson, An Introduction to Motivation, Princeton


Checklist for class tasks:

Why did we do this?

Which skills / language areas did we practise?

Did I learn something new?

Which parts of the exam is this useful for?



we feel best in flow.. fully involved in meeting a challenge, solving a problem, discovering something new. Most activities that produce flow also have clear goals
Csikszentmihalyi, Finding Flow, Basic Books, 1998



They need superb attention, planning and organisational skills, all of which develop more slowly in boys
Frances E Jensen, The Teenage Brain, Thorsons, 2015



Introduce different ways of planning

Bring in texts on effective study skills

Have a discussion / role play on topic

Check that students have own strategy / scheme

Get parents onside


Everyone can succeed if we
achieve a realistic match between the individuals present capacities and the demands of the achievement task
Henry Widdowson


The CEFR states we must celebrate learning steps!!





No comments:

Post a Comment