This creation of this paper was one of the highlights of my graduate school career. While the parameters of this assignment were broad, I decided to focus on English language acquisition amongst East Asian ELLs primarily because of my time spent in Korea. The focus of this course was second language teaching and learning and deals with “the psychological principles of second-language learning with their application to teaching, as well as the similarities and differences between first- and second-language learning and teaching.” While many of the issues in this course tended to focus on Spanish-speaking ELLs, I felt it was pertinent to concentrate on an emerging group of ELLs (at least in New York City): the East Asian immigrant. Moreover, this artifact is evidence of my ability to understand and apply theories and research in language acquisition and development to support their ELLs’ English language and literacy learning and content-area achievement.
Having taught in Korea for four years, I had grown fond of the Korean people and when I returned to New York City, I had an arsenal of techniques to use to in my teaching practice. Because Korean is generally considered a “language isolate” and based on an alphabet of symbols, there are unique challenges to working with recent Korean immigrants in an American classroom. This paper provided me with an opportunity to provide both theory and practical application for both myself and other educators.
The first half of the paper discusses how culture directly connects to language acquisition, which links to the “understanding language of language as a system”. Due to a strong hierarchical system based on a centuries-old thinking, Korean students tend to enter school with a well-honed base of respect for both the education process and teachers. While this may be seen as a boon for educators who can deal with a lot of misbehavior and apathy, there is a flip-side to overly focused students. Koreans want to become proficient in English at a very quick pace, and become quite frustrated if they are not immediately successful. An understanding teacher of ELLs must be aware of the challenges that East Asian students face, including battling and sometimes to the model minority myth.
After writing this paper, I began to reevaluate my career; specifically, I wanted to teach students that I had a strong connection with linguistically. Due to strenuous study, I have reached an advanced level of Korean ability, and I feel that would be of best use working with Asian ELLs. I am currently working with a primarily Spanish population, and while they have taught me more about the nuts and bolts of my profession than any graduate school course, I feel my experience in Asia is not being put to good use. However, I still believe that I fully understand the role of personal and affective variables in language learning and establish secure, motivating classrooms in which ELLs are encouraged to take risks and use language productively, extending their conceptual knowledge as well as their language and literacy skills.