University of Sheffield, English Language and Linguistics Personal Statement
Language and Linguistics, University of Sheffield
Further study of the English language would fuel my interest and genuine curiosity of language and assist my reflection on the vital part it plays in society. When it comes to language so many do not stop to question, what? How? And why? When I start thinking about language and immerse myself in it, I truly appreciate the intricate complexities that appear when you start to unpick it.
I am fascinated by child language acquisition as this is something so different to what I have studied previously. Through guided reading and supporting younger students I have been able to observe different aged children and assess their reading abilities and the way in which they use language. Spending time in both Infant and secondary school environments made it possible to contrast how key stage one and three students read. This highlighted an alarming number of key stage three students with reading ages considerably lower than their chronological age. Leading me to wonder if a number parents rely on the national curriculum for the entire reading development of their children rather than introducing reading routines at the optimum age prior to entering the education system.
As a logically inclined individual ‘The Infinite Gift’ by Charles Yang inspired me, giving a scientific understanding of language acquisition and presenting the concept in a formulaic way. Yang explains how language acts as the pivotal reason why humanity is unique. Only humans acquire language, separating us from the rest of nature. Charles Darwin expressed that “Man has an instinctive tendency to speak, as we see in the babble of young children, whilst no child has an instinctive tendency to bake, brew or write.” This further expands the idea of language being encoded in our biology and Chomsky’s revolutionary linguistic theory of innateness.
Out of school I train in contemporary dance and recently took part in the Commonwealth Dance Festival in Glasgow where I was able to work with artists from around the world. Interestingly the majority of dancers spoke English, a language described as ‘Language of opportunity’. This makes me feel both privileged and embarrassed as here in Britain, literacy is something most take for granted. The English language undeniably creates a sense of global unity, although there is evidence that the rapid increase of English speakers results in an extinction of community languages. We should be questioning whether the advancements of English are worth the loss of traditional languages.
I am a dedicated individual who has always been involved with music and dance including; mentoring, playing with ensembles and orchestras and performing at every opportunity. Having recently achieved my grade seven flute, I am proud of the technicality, creativity and resilience I have acquired in my ten years of learning an instrument. My commitment has been recognised by school through numerous house awards for attendance, role model and most outstanding female. In addition I have been awarded by the parish council for my musical and dance achievements and involvement in the local community.
Organisation and responsibility is something I pride myself in, being head of both prom and sixth form ball committees has allowed me to delegate roles in and work collaboratively at a range of fundraising tasks. I have held a range of positions within school for example; dance ambassador, music concerts manager and currently house captain. These roles have involved my work closely with teachers and representing the school. Participating in the National Citizen Service programme allowed me to work with variety of people on projects to improve the local community. I took part in a high achievers’ mentoring programme with Price Waterhouse Coopers that involved a group presentation to panel of professionals in an industry environment.
To me it seems obvious to explore the ability to communicate and the way we do so. Language is always evolving, it will always be relevant and there will always be something new, something interesting to discover.