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silofayses
Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2015 9:53:14 AM
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Joined: 5/21/2015
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please help me with the comprehension of this sentence. I cannot get the idea of the second part. "the main incentive" is related to "such devices" or "leaving the examination"?
"Certainly such concerns are not unfounded, as the sanctioned use of translation tools may undermine the actual language acquisition process or even the need to learn another language in the first place, potentially leaving examinations that forbid the use of such devices the main incentive for students to actually learn the language."
FounDit
Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2015 10:35:54 AM

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Joined: 9/19/2011
Posts: 14,293
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silofayses wrote:
please help me with the comprehension of this sentence. I cannot get the idea of the second part. "the main incentive" is related to "such devices" or "leaving the examination"?
I can see why you had trouble. I had to read it twice, carefully, to grasp it as well.

The second part, the main incentive, actually refers to the forbidding of translation devices. Students are motivated to actually learn because they have no translation tools.

"Certainly such concerns are not unfounded, as the sanctioned use of translation tools may undermine the actual language acquisition process or even the need to learn another language in the first place, potentially leaving examinations that forbid the use of such devices [are] the main incentive for students to actually learn the language."
CovenantWord
Posted: Friday, May 22, 2015 11:02:04 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/11/2013
Posts: 830
Neurons: 5,755
Location: Farmington, Maine, United States
silofayses wrote:
please help me with the comprehension of this sentence. I cannot get the idea of the second part. "the main incentive" is related to "such devices" or "leaving the examination"?
"Certainly such concerns are not unfounded, as the sanctioned use of translation tools may undermine the actual language acquisition process or even the need to learn another language in the first place, potentially leaving examinations that forbid the use of such devices the main incentive for students to actually learn the language."

Hmm. I think I will express disagreement with FounDit's analysis.

leaving examinations [as] the main incentive:
the main structure of the phrase after the second comma

that forbid the use of such devices: relative clause modifying "examinations"

leaving: participle modifying "use" and taking "examinations" as object

incentive: object complement of "examinations"

[as]: expletive inserted to clarify the grammatical function of "examinations"

If this analysis be true, the main idea of the sentence is:

Translation devices undermine language learning, so examinations are now the only motive for language study.
NKM
Posted: Saturday, May 23, 2015 1:49:48 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 2/14/2015
Posts: 5,266
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Location: Corinth, New York, United States
CovenantWord wrote:
Hmm. I think I will express disagreement with FounDit's analysis.
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Seems to me the only real difference between your analysis and FounDit's is that you said "[as] the main incentive" while he inserted "[are]" instead of "[as]".

Having read both responses, I can't help thinking that FounDit's "[are]" was probably a typo, intended to be "[as]" -- thus making his analysis essentially the same as yours (and incidentally, the same as my own would have been).

Romany
Posted: Saturday, May 23, 2015 3:59:47 AM
Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom

I'm afraid this is only minor, but I think makes a difference: it is not (strictly speaking) the examinations themselves which motivates students. Not many people are turned on by exams.

The problem is that many students aren't interested in actually learning and speaking a language - only in getting the certificate. So that getting certified or "passing exams" is the incentive - not exams themselves, surely?
CovenantWord
Posted: Saturday, May 23, 2015 12:54:30 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/11/2013
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Location: Farmington, Maine, United States
Romany wrote:

I'm afraid this is only minor, but I think makes a difference: it is not (strictly speaking) the examinations themselves which motivates students. Not many people are turned on by exams.

The problem is that many students aren't interested in actually learning and speaking a language - only in getting the certificate. So that getting certified or "passing exams" is the incentive - not exams themselves, surely?

Yes, well, I find "examinations" in this case to be an acceptable synecdoche for something like "the purpose of doing well on the relevant set of standards in order to open attractive career options".

Also, I'm sure you would agree that motivation is both positive and negative. In my middle schoolers, this might be specified as, "If I do well this trimester, I will have my teachers' approval, proving I'm ready for high school next year", but also as, "If I flunk this math test, my dad will ground me for two weeks and I won't be able to go to the school dance next Friday". I notice both kinds of motivation in more or less all the students, the proportion varying according to self-perception. In fact, an important aspect of my job is seeking to adjust this proportion to a healthy balance within individual students. Neither overconfidence nor discouragement is conducive.

Perhaps as a somewhat tangential observation, I customarily encourage my students to view an exam as a learning experience in itself, clarifying the distinction between what one knows and does not know. The students who take that advice enjoy a distinct advantage in continuing learning. Sitting for an exam is like attending the dentist -- painful but productive.
Romany
Posted: Saturday, May 23, 2015 2:17:23 PM
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Joined: 6/14/2009
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Location: Brighton, England, United Kingdom
Cov,

I do apologise: as the poster was an ESL learner, I was wearing my ESL hat to answer. I should have made that clear.

This particular question resonates with language teachers outside of Europe. It's led to parents spending thousands on language schools, and students coming out with a good mark on paper - but still unable to speak or understand the target language.

It's a big problem - especially in China where every student learns English for 12 years and passes exams wonderfully: but hardly anyone is able to speak/understand English.
CovenantWord
Posted: Saturday, May 23, 2015 3:21:34 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 5/11/2013
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Location: Farmington, Maine, United States
Romany:
Thanks for the clarification. I do appreciate the breadth of your experience.

Your assessment of Chinese education missing the mark of student understanding of the language is startling, but I can empathize with the teachers facing a difficult problem. Few students are naturally interested in expending the effort to comprehend the inner workings of a subject, at least initially. Consider a conversation I had just this last week:

Me: Well, XXX, these greatest common factors are all correct, but I don't see your work. Where are your prime factor trees?

Student: I don't need to do them. I got the answers from my computer.

Me: You did what?

Student: Here, I'll show you: Put the two numbers in and touch the GCF option.

Me: That's nice, but it's not acceptable. You need to derive them for yourself.

Student: Why? The computer can give me the right answer quicker.

Me: Because you need to understand what the concept means. You need to learn how numbers are put together, so you can estimate if the computer answer is believable, so you so can lay a foundation for later math concepts, and so that you can learn how to think logically and clearly.

Student: *blank stare*

Me: Besides, I'm giving you an exam next week, no calculators allowed.

Student: Oh, okay.
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