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This 3 page Reader was uploaded by Diego Zelaya on Tuesday February 9, 2016. The Reader belongs to a course at a university taught by a professor in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 21 views.
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Date Created: 02/09/16
UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION Zelaya 1 Personal Statement By: Diego Zelaya I am Diego Zelaya. I am 24 years old, and I am a student at the University of Delaware majoring in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Linguistics. I hope to one day teach ESL to college students, specifically to Latino Students, to make him or her more competitive and successful in the real world. I also hope to conduct research on second language competence and performance through sociolinguistic scenarios. My personal dream relates to my personal life. I come from a family with an immigrant ArgentinianAmerican father who struggled learning English with the limited income he had. My mother, on the other hand, has been involved in ESL for over 30 years, eventually ending her career as Department Chair of Language and Culture at Delaware Technical Community College. Both experienced have shaped who I am. With my father, I saw how important it was to help the Latino community become more proficient in Standard English. In the mid 70’s, when my father moved to the United States, he immigrated because of civil unrest within Argentina. With nothing to come to in the United States, my grandmother and father came to the United States not knowing any English. Moreover, my father struggled most of his adult life with fitting into ‘WhiteAmerica’ because of ‘English only movement’ where he felt verbally attacked by a country he was now a legally part of. My mother, on the other hand, showed me the joys of teaching and how important ESL teachers were to our society, especially the Hispanic community. Many times, we discuss how and why the Hispanic community is falling behind in education. One significant reason for this problem is that there are few people that Latino Americans can look up to in education. I hope to be able to an example to my community. My passions already has started to transform into practice. For over a year, I have been able to apply second language teaching practices at my current job at University of Delaware’s English Language Institute (ELI). At the ELI, I am an ESL tutor that works with many types of students that come from a variety of backgrounds; Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, China, and Malaysia are only a few countries where these students come from. I have focused my tutoring on the communicative competence of listening and speaking in correlation with ethnic and culture/political movements for unrepresented American minorities. One minitutor lesson I have with students involves listening and practicing speaking with the Dr. Seuss “Sneetches”. Students listen to the video and answer questions orally. I push them to see the underlining meaning of the video; the divide between StarBellied Sneetches and nonstarbellied Sneetched with the relationships between racism in our culture. Students were particularly for two reasons: it enlightened them about American culture and it gave them the opportunity to talk about racism and inequality in their UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION Zelaya 2 own country. At the same time, students were also motivated to practice speaking skills with the grammar they were learning in other classes. Two months later, the English Language Institute promoted me from a tutor to a cluster instructor. Cluster Instructors teach a course related to a specific need for ELI students that corroborates sociolinguistic performance in twice a week 50 minute sessions for 8 weeks. Specifically to my cluster, I instruct students how to get the best scores in the writing sections of the GRE, which includes not only an advance level of writing in a English, but the appropriate cognitive skills to analyze western logic to GRE standards. The application to applying western logic is specifically important to the argumentative writing section, as one of the GRE’s purposes of the writing section is to see how well one is able to draw out false assumptions given in the GRE prompts. I am proud to say that the hard work has already paid off. In the spring semester, I have been offered an adjunct instructor position at Delaware Technical Community College Department of Language and Culture as an ESL adjunct instructor. There, I will be instructing listening and speaking to LatinAmericans from the area who are hoping to improve their English for academic purposes. I took the initiative to develop myself as an ESL cluster instructor at University of Delaware English Language Institute by attending conferences around the Pennsylvania area. Recently, I have taken the opportunity to go to Pennsylvania 2015 fall conference located at Arcadia University. The focus of this conference was seeing resiliency, empowerment and development with ESL students. There, I also learned many ways to improve my teaching and tutoring methods. My favorite presentation was classroom management and ESL college classroom in community college education, presented by Professor Joanne Labov. What I most valued from that presentation wash the grading rubric, which gave me a great reference for better understanding teaching methodology in a community college environment. Furthermore, the ELI offered me the opportunity to learn more about their students through the American Fellowship Program (AFP), to which I took. The AFP is a program where undergraduate students live with three ELI students in an apartment to help them adapt to American culture. I met some wonderful people and lifelong friends during this program. More importantly, I learned the ways of living too. I expect this opportunity in the long run to be able to help me adapt to other cultures, if given the opportunity to teach TESOL abroad. I never thought of how important it was to go to a school that supports LatinAmerican success until my first two years of college at Delaware Technical Community College. Without a Spanish club, I found it hard to find people that were similar to me. I also did not find a community college to fit my academic needs; I needed a college that critically tested thinking skills. Hence, I left Delaware Tech and went to University of Delaware in the hopes of going to a university that upheld rigorous academia along with a diverse student body. I found myself, unfortunately, disappointed with its diversity. Many of the students that were considered a UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION Zelaya 3 minority were largely Chinese. Moreover, the Spanish club at University of Delaware did not have any LatinAmericans like me that I could relate to; the club only catered American students that wanted to learn more Spanish. Transferring to another undergraduate university outside of Delaware was not an option either; my mother who raised three children on her own couldn’t afford to send one of us out of state to study. It just wasn’t practical. So, as a LatinoAmerican who is aiming to further educate himself, I rigorously searched for highquality universities that also catered to my own diversity. My research has concluded UPENN as one of the top schools in driving diversity success. The MSED program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at University of Pennsylvania is particularly interesting for me because of the diverse population of students the university attracts, its philosophy in the field of TESOL, and its outreach and devotion the college has for their students. I strongly advocate that an effective instructor of ESL must be capable of understanding and, if necessary, be able to produce new knowledge in the field. At University of Pennsylvania, I hope to not only further improve on my language teaching methods, but I hope to contribute the TESOL field academically. Specifically, I would like to further investigate on the correlations between performancebased second language testing and students’ sociolinguistic competence of a second language. I would like to write a thesis on the correlations of second language assessment with sociolinguistic qualities in Hispanic minorities. As I have already noted, I am passionate in finding. In conclusion, my intent to study TESOL derived from my family background and my personal interests in research and pedagogy. I hope that, if admitted, your TESOL program will teach me the up to date pedagogical practices in ES, allowing me to work with various students interested in learning English as a foreign language, and prepare me to pursue research in a doctoral level program. One day, I hope to see myself teaching and research in second language/ESL pedagogy. I have no doubt that University of Pennsylvania can provide me the tools to see this dream come true.
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