Statement of Purpose
(by Lydia Tseng, Jan. 1998)
¡@ "Try to guess again!" I urged Jane in a vocabulary-matching exercise. Looking upon what she had written down, a gentle satisfaction lit up my face.She then asked, "But, can't we use slaughterinstead of depopulate in this sentence: The Hong Kong government passed a measure last month to slaughter chickens, in an effort to stave off chicken flu?" I replied, "Of course, you can. Actually, depopulate is a euphemism for a blunter word, like slaughter."         Euphe--mism, what's that---? Um, it's a kind of discourse strategy, whose function is to make something seem less unpleasant. Language has a magical power; to me, it's the most complex and fascinating ability God gave to humankind. I discovered my interest in learning foreign languages at junior college, thoroughly enjoying diverse courses in language study. Being aware of my additional aptitude for education, based upon my working experience, I came up with the goal of becoming an English teacher.

¡@ Being addicted to foreign films, I entered Wen Tzao Foreign Language Junior College to study English (major) and Japanese (minor). I focused on language skills and greatly enriched my knowledge of the latter, literature, and culture. For example, I was assigned as a student-tutor for three years, aiding classmates with difficulties writing composition. This collaborative learning made me a more active yet cautious writer and gave me more effective writing skills: augmenting my ability to generate ideas, construct a well-organized essay and synthesize others' opinions. Moreover, extensive literary readings in the class, British Literature (4th and 5th level) deepened my ability to appreciate works of literature as well as inspect the use of language. Analyzing poetry, fiction, and dramas, I encountered a series of language phenomenon: the repetition of consonants in alliteration, vowels in assonance, syllable patterns in rhyme scheme, sophisticated diction (phonetics, phonology, morphology), complex and alternating sentence structure (syntax), puns (semantics)---. The more I read, the more I am curious for exploring the mystery of language. Furthermore, my formerly vague vision of becoming an English teacher became more concrete and turned into a mission. For this reason, I took transfer exam in 1994 and entered Dept. of English Language and Literature, Fu Jen Catholic University to study.

¡@  Various courses including British/American Literature, western art, western culture and other interdisciplinary courses offered in Dept. of English Language and Literature in Fu Jen not only help me able to use English more fluently and accurately both in speaking and writing but also develop my critical, independent thinking. To improve my competence in the language and education field, I chose several related courses in my junior and senior years : Sociolinguistics, Psycholinguistics, Child Language, Second Language Acquisition, TESOL, Educational Psychology, etc.. The required class assignments inspired my enthusiasm for research and the formal reports I wrote included Politeness and the Japanese Language, An Analysis of Speeches in Current Taiwan Advertisements, Observation Report on a Child's Language Development, Error-Analysis Report (group work), and Learning Strategies in Second Language Learners.

¡@   After graduation, I stayed in the Dept. of English Language and Literature, Fu Jen Catholic University to work as a secretary. Besides having great opportunity to speak with foreign teachers (and thus practice speaking English everyday), I also had additional opportunity for learning. This arose from my extensive duties dealing with dept. administrative affairs, answering inquiries, assisting student registration, and translating Chinese documents into English for foreign professors. All of this fostered my ability to manage my time and professional responsibilities, see events in clearer perspective, communicate with people appropriately, and improve my abilities in solving unforeseen matters.

¡@  However, though this job is quite satisfactory I have still retained my high ambition to pursue further education. To keep up with current issues in language and education, in my leisure time I read articles in magazines such as TESOL Quarterly, TESOL Journal, ELT Journal, Childhood Education, Language and Society, photocopying articles of note for my Reading Collection Folder. From this I have not only gained a clearer picture of English Language Teaching but also been drawn to specific topics such as: language acquisition, ELT methodology, bilingual education, and the grammar of the English language. Details of these personal interests are presented in the following paragraph.

¡@ First of all, different factors, like age, gender, environment, aptitude, and learning strategies determine the success of language acquisition. Having gained an overview of research based upon child language and second language acquisition in university I would like to unearth additional theory and undertake research to derive a more realistic picture of things. Profound understanding of the learning difficulties in foreign language acquisition, and the similarities and differences between L1 and L2 development, will facilitate anticipating obstacles students confront, the causes of errors and their solution. Secondly, a teacher, just like a scientist, frequently has to draw an assumption, test it, and then make the right judgment in the classroom. Facing a proliferation of innovative teaching approaches in the ESL field, a significant issue for the teacher is how to choose a suitable one to fit students' needs. I did design one lesson plan in "Educational Psychology" class but, I hope to become more familiar with relevant theory and teaching principles by examining their strengths and weaknesses and thus, in turn, apply them in future teaching or research. Thirdly, English is the global lingua franca and, nowadays, more and more countries advocate bilingual education. Concentrating on relevant issues in bilingualism, I wish to search for explanations to the following questions that I have had for a long time. Is there an optimal age for starting second language acquisition? To what extent, is second language acquisition similar to first language acquisition in terms of the underlying acquisition process and facilitative factors? Can learners really develop competence in communicating and reading in a second language? How is performance in a first language facilitated or impeded by the acquisition of a second language? In addition, perhaps because I was taught English in junior high school using a grammar-translation approach, I particularly notice the role of grammar in teaching. The pedagogy of grammar is one topic I want to learn in my postgraduate study.

¡@   For some people, earning a degree abroad may be a nightmare since it induces them to live under tremendous pressure. It's true that studying is a painstaking task with great demands; however, I am enchanted by the exploration of new fields. With this mission in mind, I made up my short-term and long-term plans, with the former being to attend graduate school. Upon receiving my MA, I may continue to study Ph.D program for gaining more specific knowledge related language and education or return to Wen Tzao Junior College to contribute what I have learned to students at my alma mater. Compared with students in other senior high schools who memorize vocabulary, idioms, and grammatical rules by rote to earn high grades in exams, students in Wen Tzao are immersed in a sound English-learning environment. As a result, most of our students easily manipulate the English language. As an alumna, I aspire to maintain this tradition through dedication in teaching and cooperation with other instructors to train more professionals in English. My chief goal will be introducing the use of English in a linguistic and cultural context by adopting the communicative approach.

¡@   In my opinion, going abroad to study is a journey of discovery. On the way to my ultimate destination, I may encounter challenges or suffer loneliness, but I am confident I will overcome all obstacles. Also, your MA program is exactly what I require to bring out my potential and add to my expertise regarding English language and education. In conclusion I would like to thank for your patience in reviewing my materials and I look forward to hearing your reply soon.