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To bribe or not to bribe 
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Joined: Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:55 pm
Posts: 29
Location: Korea
Post To bribe or not to bribe
As you all know it can be difficult at times to motivate the students to participate and make an effort during class activities.

One sure fire way I've found to guarantee participation is to offer some sort of reward. I.E candy or stamps, stickers etc.

I know, cheating right? Bribing the students with treats isn't how it is supposed to be done right?

Here is my question.. do you think it is wrong to motivate students with small treats or gifts like candy or stickers? Or should we take the "whatever works" approach?

Mon Nov 03, 2008 2:14 pm

Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2008 2:27 pm
Posts: 191
Location: South Korea
I give stamps and when a student collects 20 they get a small reward, usually some school item or some game cards, which hardly cost me anything.

I never give candy. If I was a parent I wouldn't want the teacher giving my kids candy, but I know many teachers that do and thier students love them.

A student gets a stamp when they do their homework, speak well in class etc. If they are rude, don't do their homework, etc. then they lose a stamp.

I'm also going to start giving a class reward. When x number of stamps have bee collected by the class as a group we will have a snack party or watch a movie.

Dare to dream. Dance through life!

Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:33 pm

Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:22 pm
Posts: 111
Location: Switzerland
Post I find stickers motivate the kids better than sweets!!

I used to give out sweets or candy when playing Bingo games but then I decided to change over to stickers.

The kids are very keen and motivated and want to win their stickers. They know they have to listen to me when I explain a game ( in their own language if it's too complicated ) and then they are really motivated, not only to win stickers but by the games we play.

The strange thing now one asks for a Bingo game and no one wants sweets anymore. :-D

I'm relieved because some of the Swiss mothers weren't very pleased about their kids eating sweets and this way, I get to check what the kids know, they're happy with their stickers and the parents can see the progress. So everyone is happy. :D

Two other teachers have now decided to try the stickers and find that their lessons are easier and more fun and that the kids are motivated and want to learn English.

Whereas before, they couldn't seem to pull their lessons together and the kids weren't interested in learning English. :D

Our lessons are after school activities but they still count as you want the kids to learn the language. :D

Be good to yourself and others!!

Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:16 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
I think it's OK to offer some reward, but maybe not all of the time.

You don't want your students sitting back and always asking 'What's in it for me?' And the teacher after you doesn't want them asking that either :shock:

I generally have some activities they get rewards for and some they just have to complete. The activities without rewards are generally review activities, worksheets, games they really enjoy and activities where I can show them they are making progress. So, being able to do it and/or do it well is the reward.

At other times, it's nice to receive recognition for your achievements. However, I think they need to be balanced with the achievement. The prize should equal the effort for the goal achieved. Students shouldn't get a pencil for winning at bingo on a regular Tues. A little sticker is appropriate. It serves as a prize and is a record of their achievements. Candy on the other hand is gone in a moment and I think candy is too big of a prize for just winning an activity. Plus there's really no going back from candy ... and it's expensive!

You can use charts as well. Then, you don't have to give out as nice of stickers. The students aren't worried about what sticker they get, instead they are just trying to fill up a sticker chart.

there are plenty of options for motivating students and of course you also need to get through the day. It can be very challenging at times and especially if you are in a new culture. It can be very hard to effectively reprimand, control and motivate a class. (I'll tell you some other time how my 'Does it hurt?' attempt at motivating students failed misserably. :? ) There's also a problem if there's no recourse for the teacher. That's the case in Japan. If the students don't or won't do it, well ... hmm ... try again?

I'll just leave it with, I think there should be some things students don't get rewarded for, but I think you can do what best suits you and helps you do your job.

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:19 pm
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Joined: Sun Jan 07, 2007 8:22 pm
Posts: 111
Location: Switzerland
Post I agree with all that!!
Hi Mark,

I agree with everything that you've written, and of course, I give my kids worksheets to complete and for those, they don't get any stickers. :D
It's a good way for them and for me to see their progress too.

Rewarding all the time can be a two-edged sword if you aren't careful but for the moment, the kids like playing in teams and winning their stickers.

I try to find the balance even though we aren't in a classroom setting...I keep my kids disciplilned they know they have to keep that balance between learning, having fun and sometimes getting a reward.

If there's something they don't really want to do...I try to change how I present the game the following week.....vary it a bit and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. As I teach after school...the pressure isn't the same to get them to learn something they don't really like or want to learn. :D

I only have them for another 11 weeks...and then do another term of 12 I can afford to spoil them a bit more than if I were their form teacher!! :D

Be good to yourself and others!!

Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:42 pm

Joined: Tue Aug 26, 2008 10:03 pm
Posts: 24
there is a full other discussion on this :)

Wed Nov 05, 2008 6:45 pm

Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2006 1:36 pm
Posts: 386
Location: Tohoku Japan
this is one thing I never do

while I can see some merit, I have a lot of students and I just don't want to go there (I give to 1 they will all want it)

My students seem happy with play money etc in games! (etc)

Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:50 am

Joined: Sat Jan 21, 2006 8:03 am
Posts: 71
Location: Athens, Greece
I use a system of giving a small paper reward for each homework that has been handed in on time. When the students have collected 10 rewards, on which they have written their name and surname, they come to the teacher's desk when they hear the question" Who has got 10 rewards?", which usually happens at the beginning of the class, after greeting and singing 2-3 of our songs to get tuned to English. The whole class counts the rewards, and then the pupil who has collected them can open the Gift box, a beautiful round box I have bought especially for this purpose. Everybody claps their hands. Teacher congratulates pupil. It's a ritual that teaches pupils to do homework on time, not to "forget" it at home. The pupils I use this system with are 8 years old. I find it quite efficient. Next year they can open the box when they have 15 rewards. Next year after that there is no box but they keep the habit of handing in their work on time. I have the same pupils for 4 years.
The gifts are a beautiful rubber, a nice pencil, etc wrapped up in paper.

Fri Dec 05, 2008 12:28 am

Joined: Sun Dec 21, 2008 3:55 pm
Posts: 29
It is a huge question... also it is absolutely critical to make sure that whatever system you use that it is fair. Kids are pretty severe about what is "fair" and what isn't. For my students I really avoid reward systems since I am very afraid of accidentally forgetting someone and having seriously hurt feelings over it.

Sun Dec 21, 2008 4:36 pm
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