M-Tu Sept. 3-4 (Week II)
Key Words and Concepts
motivation (as a count noun = a drive to do something; as a mass noun = a reason to do something)
"templates" and conventional language
an autobiography; a story; a narrative; an autobiographical narrative
Motivation and language learning
I began class by introducing the main topic of the course: the concept of motivation in language learning. Motivation can mean two things: a drive to do something, or a reason to do something.
I asked you to brainstorm all the different reasons you could think of why people learn foreign languages, and we listed them on the board. For each reason, I asked you to think of a specific person (or type of person) who learns a foreign language for that reason.
I concluded by pointing out that one's motivation for learning a language could greatly affect how one goes about learning it, and how successful one is. Someone who learns a language in order to take a test will approach the task much differently than someone who does so in order to do business, or talk with a significant other, or watch cartoons, etc.
Review of key concepts
I reviewed some key concepts that I'll return to again and again in this course. Here they are, simply defined:
genre: a type of writing or speech
conventions: the things we expect to happen in that genre. (Graff and Birkenstein call these "moves.")
conventional language: the type of language we expect to find in that genre. (As far as I'm concerned, this is basically the same thing as Graff and Birkenstein's "templates."
Introduction to River Town
The excerpt from River Town you'll read is an example of an autobiographical narrative -- a story told in the first person. We talked about what one expects to find in this genre -- feelings, difficulties to overcome, description, etc -- and brainstormed reading strategies to help read this long text efficiently.
Quoting, paraphrasing, and plagiarism
I asked you to read your Short Essay #1 and put in quotation marks any words or phrases that came directly from TSIS. I asked everybody to volunteer one phrase, and we listed them on the board.
I taught you an important rule of thumb that writers of English are taught to follow: When you use someone else's words, you must put them in quotation marks! If you present others' words as if they are your own -- without quotation marks -- many people will view this as plagiarism, a form of stealing.
But it can often be very difficult to tell which words "belong" to other people and which are "common property" that's free for everyone to use. So we began to an exercise to help you develop a gut feeling for telling the difference between the two:
Going down the list of words and phrases from TSIS, I asked you one by one to tell me which words you thought "belonged" to Graff and Birkenstein, and which were "common property" -- conventional language.
We will continue this next class!
Due W-Th Sept. 5-6 (Day 4)
Read the excerpt from River Town, focusing on the questions:
What motivates Hessler to learn Chinese? (How do you know? Mark the passages.)
What are some challenges he faces? What are some things that demotivate him? (How do you know? Mark the passages.)
What are some of the most vivid and interesting passages? Mark any passages you especially like.
Letter to Austin #2:
Tell me one interesting or troubling thing (something you've observed or experienced) that's happened at DKU so far related to language. Why was it interesting or troubling?
What things about life at DKU motivate you to get better at English? What things demotivate (discourage) you?