ESL Term:

Intrinsic Motivation

ESL/EFL Glossary: A Guide to applied linguistics terminology.


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intrinsic motivation: Motivation in learning that comes from a sense of empowerment in being able to do something. Doing something for the sake of doing it without thought of rewards such as praise, grades,  candy, or money.  Intrinsic motivation can be contrasted with extrinsic motivation where the learner performs a task in order to receive some kind of reward.

Intrinsic motivation is thought to have far greater benefits in the long run. This in turn suggests that ESL teachers should try to foster intrinsic motivation instead of providing rewards for doing well. However, because ESL teacher rarely have long term contact with students, they opt for the quick fix solutions to make their classes run smoothly now - something to think about next time you want to bribe a class of hyperactive grade 4s with candy and a quiz.