Albert Jesse Kennedy II Admissions Essay Application for Fall 2011 "I want to be a teacher!" This is what I told myself in the fall of 2002 in my junior year of high school. For as long as I could remember, teaching had been a dream of mine. For four years I studied in anticipation--awaiting the day I would be a certified English/language arts teacher in Secondary Education. That dream eventually became a reality, but at times, it seemed like a nightmare. I can still remember my first day in the classroom not being a pre-service teacher; I was so filled with anxiety that I thought I would faint. That first year taught me so much about teaching. I thought that the worst of my problems were going to be naughty students, homework checks, and chewing gum on the desks; this was not the reality, though. After my first year of teaching middle and high school English, I learned about the horrors of teaching during a recession, and I found out that the problems I thought I was going to have turns out I didn't have them at all—I had a greater challenge: budget cuts. At the end of the year, I faced the same problem many teachers faced—our jobs being taken away due to financial restraint. I didn't know what I was going to do. I knew that I needed to find a new job and quick! I got the best idea from a book, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, that I taught my high school students. At the first chance I got, I typed “teach English in China” into the Google search engine finding endless results. Four months later, I was on a plane headed towards my new job in the Middle Kingdom. This would change my life forever. Since my arrival in China two years ago, my professional life has completely changed. Teaching in China has been a very rewarding experience, and it has made me realize my true calling—teaching English to speakers of other languages. However, since my educational background is in English/language arts education, I feel that there is a large distance between where I am as an ESL/EFL teacher and where I want to be professionally due to this lack of training. I found this university's program through a recommendation of a teacher I know through an online forum. Upon reviewing the
required coursework in the M.S.Ed.:TESOL, I found it quite holistic in scope and sequence. If accepted into the program, I plan to cultivate the following characteristics as a TESOL educator: Best Practices: Since becoming an ESL/EFL teacher, most of my teaching practices have been mainly trial and error in nature. I have learned a lot from my teaching experiences, but I have felt that they are largely unfounded and lacking a full understanding of how to best conduct the ESOL classroom. I feel like this program can help remedy this situation and better prepare me further in my career. Language Acquisition/Culture: This area is where I need the most help. I have found myself researching to educate myself on the modern theories of multilingualism, second language acquisition, and dealing with different cultures. In my work in China, overcoming these barriers due to my lack of training in this area has proven to be a great challenge. Materials and Methods: Due to the extreme lack of resources, materials, support, and language barriers, China proves to be exceptionally challenging in organizing materials and mapping curriculum for an ESL/EFL course. I have a need to learn how to overcome these obstacles in a very creative and feasible way. Assessment: As an English teacher in America, I felt very competent in my ability to assess students. Due to the very difference in nature from teaching native speakers, assessing English language learners is increasingly more difficult. In the areas of written and performance assessment, I feel competent and qualified, but listening and reading assessments I have room to grow. Technology: With the wave of Web 2.0, new tools are being created for use of the general public. These tools especially have a place in the ESOL classroom, but which ones are the most effective? Integrating technology into instruction is a necessity with globalization and the need for multiple literacies. I plan to learn where technology meets TESOL and how to use it
for active student-centered learning. Research: The decisions teachers make in the classroom everyday need a basis. This basis should come from an understanding of the scholarship relevant to the 21st century classroom. Through the study of Second Language Research, I hope to gain a greater understanding of how to combine all of the aforementioned educational goals. The road to success is not an easy one, and it is long. If accepted to this program, I plan to take theory and to make practical applications in my ESL/EFL classroom here in China and many other places in the world where I will teach. With achievable goals and some guidance, I plan to grow professionally and to hopefully have a better understanding of what it means to be an effective ESL/EFL teacher. I appreciate this opportunity to learn and thank you for your consideration!