Saturday, February 03, 2007

Ave, Malcolm!

A few days ago, Malcolm Pollack, who is part of a small cluster of super-intelligent polymaths plotting world domination, wrote a post titled "The Love that Dare Not Bleat Its Name," which dealt in part with research on homosexuality in sheep, the possible consequences of such research for people, and how we should approach this kind of science.

I ended up copying Malcolm's fine post and using it for my Intensive 3 Reading class. It sparked furious debate among some of the students, which is exactly what I wanted. The students were, of course, restricted to speaking only in English, which pissed them off even more, but I was gleeful.

In language teaching, we talk about "extrinsic motivation" versus "intrinsic motivation." The latter is seen in students who study a language because they already have some built-in desire to do so. Perhaps they find the language beautiful; perhaps it comes naturally to them. Extrinsic motivation, however, is what's often needed to get most students producing decent utterances in the target language. In our case, the extrinsic motivation was: "I have an urgent point I need to make, and by God, you're going to hear it!" While my Level 3s are normally good talkers, last Tuesday was easily one of our best "talking days."

Thank you, Malcolm. I'll have you know that, when the class ended, the debate continued in Korean.


1 comment:

Maven said...

On a tangential note...

Given here stateside the lowly broccoli and soybean have been vilified for their phytoestrogen levels causing feminization of males, and possibly being a root cause of homosexuality in males, as well as certain soaps or perfumes containing phthalates (sp?) causing Gynecomastia, it would be interesting to see the effects this would have on media hounds and homophobes. Perchance a rallying cry to outlaw the consumption of lamb? Or will the USDA now have the added burden of certifying all lamb as being "non-homo?"