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English Teaching Scholarship Essay, Central Asian

April 5, 2016


Describe an occasion when you were a leader or set a positive example in your school.

I live in Kokshetau, Kazakhstan and I have been teaching English for 9 years.Central to my teaching philosophy is the design of lesson plans that empower students in practical ways, developing tools that will serve them for a lifetime. Thus, I struggle to serve as a leader in the classroom every day, setting a positive example as someone in my school is very curious and loves to explore challenges and implement novel ideas. I dream of becoming a leader among my colleagues and in my profession, as well as in my classroom. Completing your program will go a long way towards helping me to achieve this goal.

I have been a leader among my peers for my entire life, in the area of foreign languages, helping to inspire them to excel as I have. I have been studying foreign languages since childhood. I have  many heroes who have inspired me along the way; Henry Schliemann comes to mind, for example, because of the way in which he independently set about as an archeologist to learn not just one but several ancient languages as part of his quest to find the ancient city of Troy.

The first language I mastered on my own was Esperanto, learning through correspondence. I still have the certificate of completion of this course. In our village school in Kazakhstan, the only foreign language instruction available was in German. I have always especially loved this language and this is why I chose to study German Language and Literature in the University, graduating with honors. I was already an adult by the time that I began learning English intensively. English has been my independent conquest, something that I have learned almost entirely on my own initiative, and it has become my greatest passion of the course of the last decade.

Primarily as the result of a lot of hard work in an accelerated language learning program by correspondence, I was able to develop my English to the point of fluent communication, especially written. In time, I became an English teacher. In my first year I was asked to organize a team of Young Police Assistants among school children. The goal of this project was to raise the legal awareness of the students, their civic consciousness. While neither a historian nor a jurist, I soon realized that the teacher must wear many hats and that education was highly political, at least in Kazakhstan. In fact, citizenship education has become a priority in the educational system of our country. I take pride in the fact that I have done everything within my power to inspire the children to become truly interested in and engaged with these projects.

I have developed a special interest in “at risk” youth. It is in this area where I am able to realize my fullest leadership potential and I want to devote the balance of my professional life to this cause and try my hardest to set an example for others to follow. Me and my colleagues are involved in various social projects in the field of Law; and we are a four-time winner of the city competition among school teams. Most importantly, I truly believe that these programs are able to reach "difficult" children, helping them to reflect on their behavior in difficult situations and to cultivate greater acceptance of the behavior of those around them. Another experience that I had which helped to develop my leadership qualities was serving as the chief redactor of our school newspaper. For two years I served as a Coordinator of Children’s Social Activities at my school. I also became and remain an active member of the City Association of English teachers. In an informal atmosphere, we communicate and share our experience in teaching English. I always triumph the value of cultivating critical thinking skills as an integral component of most English lesson plans.

What characteristics and abilities do you possess that make you a teacher leader?

I have almost full responsibility for running the Young Police Helpers Club at my school and served for one year as the Deputy Director for Educational Issues before taking maternity leave for my second child. I also ran our school press center. I believe that I have distinguished myself as a teacher leader and will continue to do so even more after completing your program because of my high level of energy, curiosity, and dedication to everything having to do with new methodologies oriented towards empowerment and the cultivation of critical thinking skills. Finally, during my undergraduate studies, I was heavily involved with the ecological organisation Zhasyl Elfnd, working as part of the organization’s pedagogical team.

In each and every one of my students I see a special, unique quality - a talent – and my goal is to reveal this talent in each one.  I admire the Socratic method of education that is geared towards drawing the new knowledge out of each student from within. So, I am always looking for new opportunities, trying out new ideas, and experimenting with new strategies. I especially love teaching English, preparing for my lessons, finding new methods and introduce new technological tools. Over the years, I have become increasingly creative as a result of greater experience. My career has dovetailed with our new world of computers and ICT in the classroom and this is having an enormous impact on our educational system, providing new impetus to the teaching of English.

I tell my students about the sights of London while they look at the images, not only tourist images but images of British history, family trees of British monarchs, to site just one example. I have searched long and hard to become highly familiar with the most useful sites on the web for our purposes. One, for example, is the web site of the British Communications Council, communicating online with ESL teachers worldwide. I see myself as a member of globl educational space. Me and my colleagues who also teach English, we see ourselves as part of a global team of English teachers. I feel most at home when posting on ESL teachers' websites or corresponding with my colleagues both within my country and abroad. We all have different living conditions, different approaches to teaching, but we have the same basic or ultimate goal.

Educating young people provides me with a great sense of achievement and purpose in life. Just as I believe in lifelong education, I also believe that we can always improve as citizens, especially as citizens of the world. I feel privilege to live in the era of the Internet, which has given us all many novel ways to learn about our world.

“I have passed my English test. Thank you!”.I remember how having received this SMS, I also cried out for joy for my student, for myself. But most of all I was filled with a sense of pride in the profession that I had chosen. Teaching allows one to blossom anew each day as we develop professional. There is nothing that I enjoy more than helping our students to prepare for exams, whether ENT (Russian National Exam), or FCE, this is the most valuable experience of all. I can now boast of two students who have successfully passed international examinations in English.

What skills and experience do you hope to gain from participating in the TEA Program, and how will these benefit you and your community once you have completed the program?

As a result of participating in your program, I hope to become a mentor for the teachers of our school, especially in terms of the methodological organization of foreign languages. I want very much to improve the quality of our educational services in this area. The name of our city is Kokshetau. It is rather a town, a center of the Akmola region (Kazakhstan is divided into 16 regions), population 135,106 (2009 Census). Kokshetau is well known for its nature and tourist sites, such as Burabay (Borovoe) Resort, among others. Kokshetau was settled on a lake, called Kopa (Russian: Копа). In terms of our educational system, we have Kokshetau State University named after Shokan Ualichanov (the first Kazakh scientist) as well as several private universities and a lot of collages. There are 23 secondary schools here.

My school is situated on the outskirts of the town, in the most impoverished area of the region. This area of my country is home not only to many traditional religious organizations but many newer sects as well. Most of  the residents are renters, and most of the homes are hovels with no modern conveniences. The level of unemployed is extremely high. A lot of people suffer from tuberculosis. The cultural level of our schoolchildren’s parents is very low. Nearly 70% of our schoolchildren leave school after the 9th grade to enter technical training programs for lower paid positions in our work force. Less than one quarter of our students pass the National Test that is required to enter our universities. Only a handful, if any, get grants.

We try to improve the success of our students by encouraging participation in our many different clubs and sports activities. We seek the full involvement of students in both the educational process as well as extracurricular activities as this tends to result in lower levels of juvenile crime, especially with respect to recidivism rates. In our town, local athletes are among our most important cultural heroes; thus we try to harness to enthusiasm associated with athletics to enhance the overall pedagogical purpose of our school. Most recently, we have been laboring especially hard to encourage and increase parent participation in our academic community.

Describe at least two ways you will share these skills with your school and/or community.

My greatest asset is my high level of motivation to learn everything that I can about Information and Communication Technology ICT. There is still little use of technology in the classroom in Kazakhstan. When I return from your program, I hope to be able to make important contributions to the movement that is being built to change this, and to invest more in our educational system, especially in terms of English Language Education. New methodologies in the Teaching of English as a Second or Foreign  language is my primary interest; and upon my return to Kazakhstan, I will do all that I can to share what I learn in your program with others, through seminar presentations and networking through teacher’s organizations.

Completing your program will help me to to become a more highly qualified ESL teacher and leader in the field of multilingual education, especially English and German. Today’s education is a life-long process to each person that need to be reinforced throughout life. Considering the present English teaching conditions in Kazakhstan, I think the central key for English teachers to teach more effectively lies in raising the students’ level of interest and engagement with what they are learning in English. Participating in your program will also go a long way towards helping me to implement another important personal goal for the future, attracting foreign teacher volunteers to our school. So far, the teachers of English that are native speakers of the language and have come to our city have only taught in the so-called elite schools. I hope to bring native speakers to our school as well. I plan to create a drama department for our school and I think the presence of native speakers would be especially helpful in this area.

I feel that I have much to contribute to your program because I have always been a very multifaceted student and teacher, participating in numerous educational and extracurricular activities that have helped me to develop a multicultural social consciousness. I am a good linguistics student. Mastering German, and making excellent progress with English. I make friends easily.

I want to thank you for considering me for your program.

 

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