Cultural/Linguistic Autobiography Essay

1140 words - 5 pages

Cultural/Linguistic Autobiography
Hollie T. Dwyer
TSL 537 Grand Canyon University
March 19, 2013
As an educator, I am curious to know how my cultural and linguistic background will affect my ability to meet and exceed the needs of second language learners. My family and I are African American with family influences from Ireland and the Caribbean Islands of Barbados and Grenada. Growing up in a military family from the South, English was the primary language that was used in my home by my parents. I was exposed to other languages in small amounts due to the fact that my family lived overseas the majority of my childhood. In the past, I was exposed to German and Korean ...view middle of the document...

Prior to becoming a teacher, I had a career as a flight attendant for eight years. I traveled the world experiencing different countries, people, and cultures along the way. Over the course of my professional airline career, I traveled to 112 countries, crossed over three major oceans, and every state in the Union. I worked with individuals that represented various ethnic and racial backgrounds. Some of my fellow crew members had even acquired English as their second or third language. As a teacher, I have taught many students who derived from various socio-economic, racial, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds. On average, most students I taught came from hard-working, lower middle class families in both rural and urban settings. Some these students were designated as English Language Learners. Many these students were children of migrant workers and came from homes where they were the only one who spoke English. Currently, I am teaching middle and high school students English in public school in rural South Korea. Student proficiency in second language acquisition ranges from below proficiency to intermediate level ability. Many students, like those I taught in the United States, come from lower middle class families where many occupations held are in agriculture. Unlike in the States, students with moderate to severe learning and emotional disabilities are placed in general education classrooms without any modifications in place to help them succeed. Being a foreigner teacher, or a migook, I am looked at as a physical representation of not only the English language, but as a component of Western culture. Working and living in a foreign country affords me the opportunity to learn more about my new home-away-from-home in a way tourists don’t have the chance to experience. By contrast, living in a foreign country has come with its own set of unique challenges and stressors as well. Prior to arriving in Korea, I knew only the basics when it came to learning the language. I didn’t (and still do not) know how to read Hangul, the Korean alphabet. Navigating around my small city, along with performing the basic tasks of life has been quite a challenge. It can be frustrating experience trying to figure out the bus schedule and or even going grocery shopping. In a sense, it’s a very lonely and handicapping feeling. I can’t even perform most tasks like getting a cell phone or going to the bank with my...

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