There is a certain art to teaching that takes a unique form when applied to the field of foreign language. Conveying a new language to students requires tact and stealth in order to capture and maintain active student participation. The marriage of pedagogy and personal style can create an experience out of foreign language learning for the student—which is the most important goal I have as a foreign language instructor.
Every student has a singular chance to feel like they can achieve at learning a foreign language from the start, because there is no pre-conceived fallacy about being “bad” or “good” at it. To capitalize on this opportunity and carry it through middle and high school is part of the mission to impassion every student for learning a foreign language. Intrinsic motivation is the only way to guarantee a student’s success. Learning foreign language is not about how great a teacher one is, it’s about how avidly the students are seeking the knowledge. That being said, one amazing feature of foreign language is that it connects to a different cultures—different worlds! Any student can appreciate something about the customs, lifestyle, food, or geography of another people. The more interested they become in the culture of the target language, the easier it will be for them to be self-motivated to learn the language. It is my job to merely provide the means for the students to discover their internal incentives and turn it into enthusiasm in the classroom.
Similar in importance to the intrinsic motivation theory is the schema theory. This is a legitimate claim that students will feel comfortable and animated about receiving and providing information about a subject if they have existing knowledge of the topic. The beauty of language learning is that the students already have a lot of experience with speaking, reading, listening, and writing in their native tongue! As a foreign language teacher, I have to show the students that they cannot take their ability to do these things for granted. The expertise and the long-developed skills of communication they have in English are the perfect channel to proficiency in a foreign language.