Tuesday, December 9, 2008

final statement of purpose

William Lehman
Statement of Purpose
International Studies: Asia
I am studying International Studies: Asia with a Concentration on Japan with the intentions of using this degree to return to Japan for a teaching position. The IDS degree was a good fit for me because it allowed be to do a significant amount of observing into the concepts behind Second Language Acquisition, Teaching Methods and Education in Japanese Society, History, and Culture. This is my goal as a learner in the IDS program.
I hope to teach English as a second language in an established public/private school in a full time position or a night/cram school, while I seek further education in the Japanese Language to the point of fluency and possibly seeking a Masters in TEFL or TESL. This allows me to continue to teach English, in a well established position, abroad or to return to the United States to teach Japanese, preferably at an Undergraduate level.
The reason this degree is a good choice for me is because to teach a second language effectively it is very important to teach to nature of the students. A Montessori style of teaching is very similar to my ideal pedagogy but seeing as that would not be an option in a Japanese public school setting I have to try hard to meet on a middle ground. To do this I have to learn as much as I can about the Japanese Culture, Society, and even Identity. Being able to reach students is a large part of transferring the knowledge, but if one cannot connect, it is very difficult to pass on the knowledge.
Due to the furthering Globalization of the world it is important for successful young people to be multi-lingual. For the youth of tomorrow, to triumph in the economic world around them it is imperative to adapt to their surroundings and that means overcoming language barriers. Right now, the most highly successful business language is, arguably, English. Furthering the international market is important to the world economy and success.
The interest in my concentration on Asia/Japan came from my precious experience of living in Japan. While there, I fell in love with every aspect of Japan and the people. I have wanted to return to that country, to live, ever since I left. While there I had my first paying job as an assistant teacher of English in a classroom setting for three to five year olds. Since then, I have assisted in teaching most age ranges in official settings. This is what I think my calling is for my future. That is why I wish to continue on this path. However, since there is neither Japanese nor a TESL/TEFL major at Appalachian State, I decided on the IDS: Asia with a concentration on Japan and a minor in Teaching English as a Second Language. I have been using my free hours to study other languages, learning methods, and technology. I think these are the key to my future and my efficiency as a teacher in the future.
My study of Asia has mainly focused on Japan but I have tried to expand my study to include: Language, Culture, Society, Identity, History, Anthropology, Geography, Religion, and Nutrition. I will have taken classes like Japanese Society and Identity through Literature, Japanese Society through the Visual Arts of Manga, Modern Japanese History, and plan to take Russo-Japanese Relations. I have already taken two Independent Studies with my Japanese teacher Misa Yamamoto. In these classes we had a focus on integration, a study of interaction, language, and modern conceptions. All of these classes will have prepared me for integration into the Japanese school system and to educate Japanese students. Understanding that I will have to cross the cultural gap of the Japanese classroom is part of this educational agenda.
To further help me with teaching skills and getting into the Japanese mindset I was also an Instructional Assistant with Appalachian State’s Japanese classes. Here I learned to focus my methodologies and get some real world application of language learning from an instructor’s view point. This was an invaluable experience that gave me a better idea of what I have to look forward to in the educational field.
My minor courses are all based around Teaching English as a Second Language. I took these in order to be a more efficient teacher to non-native speakers. While in these courses I worked closely with exchange students and local non-native speakers to increase their fluency. Those are examples of how I will apply the knowledge I acquire in these courses. The courses have also allowed me to compile my personal pedagogy and a small lesson plan for second language acquisition to Japanese youth and post them to a personal webpage. http://www.appstate.edu/~wl65727/will_page.html
To further understand language I have audited some other language courses that would help me as a language teacher, including courses in Arabic and Latin. Understanding where a language comes from is very important to learning the flow of the language. Finally, I completed a course in Introductory American Sign Language. It is a little more non-traditional then most languages but still a viable and important one. Like Japanese it is a high context language and requires a different mindset completely than English; thus, showing how culture plays strongly into the picture.

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