M-Tu, Sept. 17-18 (Week IV)
Key terms and concepts
a newspaper article
a literature review
a body of research
a school of thought
pros and cons
Mackey on motivation: Interesting points
I went around the classroom and asked each student, in no more than 2 minutes, to summarize the point in the Mackey article that they found most interesting, and explain why they found it interesting.
From doing this exercise, I hope that you:
got some practice making a point quickly and concisely in spoken English
experienced how much more clearly we communicate when we
speak directly to each other rather than reading off a paper
summarize what we're responding to before we respond
pushed yourself to think a little harder than usual about the question "Why do I find this interesting?"
Introduction to Motivation Theory presentations
If I were to summarize the central question of this class in one sentence, it would be: ""What motivates people to learn foreign languages, and how to do different kinds of motivations affect how people learn them -- and how successful they are?"
Up till now we've addressed this question by reading stories and sharing our own experiences. Going forward, we will investigate what scholars have to say on this subject -- and see if any of the theories they've come up with based on academic research can be useful to us as language learners.
I explained that over the next several classes, you will work in small groups to learn more about a particularly body of research (or "school of thought") about the question of motivation in language learning, and deliver what you've learned to the class in the form of a short presentation. The goal is that by the end of this process, you should understand four different schools of thought well enough that you can write about them in your midterm paper.
Writing idiomatically (continued)
Last class I introduced one possible strategy you could use to make your writing more idiomatic: checking word combinations with a search engine, like Google.
I asked the class to share their experiences using this strategy, and list its pros and cons. Some of the ones we came up with were:
There's a lot of natural English on the Internet, so it can be a better resource for learning word combinations than a dictionary or a translation software
You can look at the webpages to see the context in which the word(s) are used.
It's quick and easy
Google will sometimes suggest similar common word combinations
It can be hard to interpret the results: how many hits means the word combination is "normal"? How many is "too little"?
There's a lot of unidiomatic English on the Internet
You have to be unsure of a word combination to begin with in order to check it
It is incredibly time-consuming if you check all of your word combinations!
In addition, as a preface to this discussion, I asked you think about the question, why should we try to write idiomatically to begin with? Some of the answers we came up were:
so that your reader will be able to read your writing quickly and comfortably
so that your reader (particularly future professors) won't unconsciously judge you because your language is "not normal"
to bring the reader closer to you, creating a feeling of "familiarity"
Due W-Th, Sept. 19-20 (Day 8)
➤ Letter to Austin #4
What was the point from the Mackey article you found most interesting? Summarize it for me. Tell me why you think it’s interesting, and draw a connection between that point and a specific person, story, or incident. (It could be one of the incidents you wrote to me about earlier, or something else related to your life at DKU, or your language study before you came here — or something totally different. It’s up to you, but it must be specific.)
➤ Motivation theory research project: Step 1
Download the motivation theory handout and read the summaries of the 9 different bodies of research (or “schools of thought”) related to the topic of motivation in language learning. You can think of these as nine different “conversations” going on between different groups of scholars.
Discuss them with your group members and come to next class prepared to tell me the three you’d be most interested in learning more about, in order of preference.