In my home country it is not at all unusual for a pupil, who is excelling in their work, to be asked to assist in teaching their fellow pupils. As a pupil who did excel and who was, indeed, usually top of the class throughout my school career, I had considerable experience of teaching and also at university where I helped any fellow student on my course who was struggling over a topic. I have a love and facility for teaching that I hope to pursue professionally and one of my goals is to become qualified to teach Linguistics in a Ghanaian university.
The measure of a subject’s worth among my family and friends, as well as much of Ghanaian society in general, is estimated only in terms of its income-creating potential. My choice of Linguistics was met with incredulity, especially as many people had no idea what Linguistics is or could see no practical application in studying the subject. In my home country, bright people are expected to study business or science; they are definitely not expected to study Linguistics and then seek to take up a poorly paid career in teaching. My father had made considerable financial sacrifices to enable me to be educated and I had an obligation to repay this debt by helping my family. So any hopes of continuing my studies, or taking up a teaching career were vigorously discouraged. I graduated with first class honors in Linguistics with History as a minor subject but, having done so, felt obliged to seek well paid employment. Eventually I found work in a bank to the relief of my family and friends.
I knew very quickly that I had made a mistake. I was not going to make a good banker; it just did not excite or interest me. I found myself discussing interesting points about language with customers when I should have been selling the bank’s services to them. During this unhappy time, I came across a quotation by Elbert Hubbard, “Get happiness out of your work or you may never know what happiness is” and this seemed to speak to me personally and inspired me to make this application in order to fulfill my original and heartfelt goals. This, in itself, is an example of the power of words.
I regard Linguistics, not only as a fascinating subject in itself, but also one of enormous utility in helping people to communicate effectively and sensitively in every kind of interaction with others both in private and professional contexts, as well as being an essential tool for teachers of foreign languages. The high number of Google searches for ‘Quotations’ confirm that most people find that a few appropriate words phrased thoughtfully can inspire, guide, soothe or excite them and, indeed change their lives. I never cease to be surprised by the power of language that has changed the course of history so frequently. Would Britain have fought on against apparently impossible odds if Churchill had not persuaded them by words alone that they could win? Would Barack Obama still be a social worker in Chicago without his facility to gain the confidence of listeners by inspirational speeches?
I am fluent in three African languages; my interests extend beyond English to African languages and, indeed to all languages; their contrasts, similarities and the different ways in which they are employed in different societies and particular contexts. I am also very interested in the different ways that English is used in different English speaking cultures. For instance, the quite florid use of language by English speaking Indians is very different from the much more direct use of the language in England which differs again from that applied in Africa. Linguistics can also be essential in ensuring that languages do not die and I regard this as a very important aspect of the subject’s practical applications.
I now seek entry to a challenging and interesting Master’s program in Linguistics so that I can immerse myself more deeply in the subject I love, acquire the knowledge to teach Linguistics, share my own insights and receive the benefit of those of my classmates and to undertake useful and interesting research. I would be particularly interested in undertaking research in the one or more of the areas of Semantics, Pragmatics, Sociolinguistics and Applied Linguistics. Ultimately, I intend to pursue a Ph.D.
I am not widely traveled but am fascinated by other people’s cultures, backgrounds and experiences. I look forward to studying with people from many cultural and social backgrounds, to learning about their cultures and sharing knowledge about my own. I know that there will be many well qualified applicants for the program. However, I genuinely believe that I am an exceptional candidate. I am academically able, as my bachelor degree results and GPA score will confirm; I have demonstrated determination by overcoming difficult financial circumstances to excel in my education and obtain an excellent bachelor degree; I have an excellent grounding in Linguistics; I am very keen to pursue research and I also feel sure that I can provide interesting insights to my class by reason of my knowledge of African languages. My main recommendation, however, is a genuine and heartfelt passion for language and Linguistics and a desire to share this with others to assist them in achieving their own personal and professional goals.