For me, student motivation comes from within and not from the teacher. We can only create an environment which nourishes learning, and with patience, support and encouragement, slowly draw them out into communicating and learning. Additionally, as Jason points out, the idea of ‘push’ is teacher-centred and takes no account of the interests or needs of the students.
The term ‘push’ reminded me too much of what mother birds do to baby birds. If the push out of the nest is successful, they fly. If not, they die. I can’t afford any dead students.
As a teacher of young learners I particularly appreciate the work of James Asher on TPR. He reminds us that when learning a first language we are not forced to speak, and in fact, don’t for a long time. However, when our understanding builds, or our confidence, or our needs, then we start blurting out something vaguely understandable which becomes the basis for further refinement, etc. Often, either because of our own impatience or the dictates of our employers, we “push” our learners too soon into productive language use, only to be surprised when they don’t meet our exacting standards.
I am also a reluctant language learner and I can confirm that if a teacher tries to ‘push’ me beyond a certain point, I push myself out the door.
I think learning can occur outside of pushing, particularly in the context of curiosity. If we have something of interest to offer, students will naturally be drawn to see what it is. Finally, nudging them (thanks Leahn) on through challenges, games, friendly team work using some of the approaches you mentioned will be received more favourably, particularly by the young.
Posted today in response to an article by Scott Thornbury at http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/p-is-for-push/#comment-1511.