Are people born motivated or unmotivated to learn?

One remark I hear time and again while interviewing inservice teachers applying to postgraduate programmes is: “My students are not motivated to learn English.” I hear this remark so often that sometimes I wonder if there is one single student in HK who likes learning English. While I must guard against overgeneralising from an interview situation, I can’t help asking in my mind:

– Is that a fact (ie, one that can be substantiated through objective means), or a perception (ie, a particular way of looking at a situation)?
– If that is indeed a fact, what has caused it?
– If that is a perception, and one which is very common, why are teachers generally inclined to think of their students as unmotivated?
– One often cited reason for the alleged lack of motivation is that HK doesn’t have a language-rich environment for learning English? How valid is that claim?
– Another often cited reason is that the students lack family support for learning English. If that is a fact, where does our professional duty lie?
– Is this alleged lack of motivation just for English, or is it generally for going to school (i.e., are students more motivated to study the other school subjects?)? If the latter, what does that say about our education system and society as a whole? If the former, what can we English Language educators do?
– Are people born motivated or unmotivated to learn?
– ……
– ……
– (and 60+ other questions)

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