10,000 THB, free lifetime membership to all languages on Ling, personal statement posted on our scholarship page
8,000THB, free lifetime membership to 1 language of your choice on Ling, personal statement posted on our scholarship page
My name is Tanon Chaimongkol. I am a 21-year-old senior student from the faculty of humanities who majors in English and minors in sociology and anthropology. I have recently submitted my independent study in the linguistics field as a requirement for the ENGL489 course, which is the last course in this second semester of the academic year 2022. I will successfully achieve my bachelor’s degree in English soon. I am also a Thai transwoman who loves learning about language and multiculturalism.
Applying for this scholarship means that I can have the chance to demonstrate my views on language, and the potential in interdisciplinary knowledge I have gained throughout four years at Chiang Mai University. I hope this essay plays a part well in sharing experiences, perspectives, and thoughts from an English-major student who has finished various linguistic courses, such as Language and Community, Language and Gender, Sociolinguistics, and Discourse in Communication. The topic I choose is “How does language relate to who we are?”.
Culture, Gender, and Race: The Reflections of Who We Are through the Interrelation of Language and Identity
As a student who majors in English, I have always been captivated by how language connects people in the world, develops their thoughts and skills, and opens the doors of wisdom and ideology. Indeed, language does not only function as a means of communication, but also as a representation of an identity of who we are, and what we do. As the concept of identity is related to who we are, how language constructs and/or reflects identity can also reflect ourselves. In terms of identity, language represents various aspects, including culture, gender, and race and ethnicity.
Firstly, language is related to cultural identity. To explain, culture and language influence each other. People have different cultures, thus different language styles. We can say that an identity or a characteristic of a culture can be reflected in the language used in their society. I would like to discuss Thai language as an example. Indeed, one of the most dominant characteristics of the Thai language is pronoun selection. Thai language is known for its various first-person and second-person pronoun choices. For example, the pronoun ‘I’ can be chosen from any of these words: ฉัน เรา ขา กู ฮา ผม กระผม หนู พี่ ป้า แม่ พ่อ เค้า etc. A second-person pronoun can also be picked from these words: คุณ ทาน เธอ เจา เอ็ง มึง ลุง น้า แก ตัวเอง หมอ etc. As Thai language is a high-context language, this interesting aspect reflects that Thai society highly values the concept of กาลเทศะ (appropriateness of time and place). To illustrate, Thai people are usually highly aware of their surroundings, such as the status of people they talk to, the formality of the place, and levels of familiarity, in certain situations when they communicate. This identity of Thai people can be reflected through language use. As a result of being used to analyzing and choosing language registers in different situations and contexts, Thai people are flexible in adjusting themselves as an individual in communities with diversity.
Moreover, language can be related to gender identity or sexual orientation. As the LGBTQ+ community has shown their pride and unity throughout our society with their perspectives and lifestyles in diversity, they are an example of how language can reflect gender identity. Nowadays, some people might relate LGBTQ+ jargon and slang to entertainment or pop culture. However, the use of jargon and slang among LGBTQ+ people has a deeper reflection on their history and the acceptance of society. To explain, LGBTQ+ people were not much accepted in the past, and were often discriminated against. When someone was gay or lesbian, they could not be fully themselves as they would get bullied and discriminated against. As they were forced to follow heteronormative norms, they could find happiness and acceptance in communicating with people who are like them. Slang and jargon were used to communicate among people in the community to express themselves without outsiders, straight people, knowing the meanings. The development of slang and jargon in the LGBTQ+ community is interesting as they include the portrayal of different gender identities, sexual orientations, cultures of sub-communities, acceptance, and diversity. In one of the courses I enrolled in, Language and Gender, we studied and discussed the language use among LGBTQ+ and their characteristics. It is interesting to study how different genders use language, and how that reflects their identity. In recent days, slang and jargon are widely known and used by more and more people and organizations, including straight people and the media. This shows how the identity of LGBTQ+ people is much more accepted and valued. We can see how important language is for representing and constructing gender identities as it can tell a story of who we are, or who we choose to be.
Lastly, race and ethnicity are an identity that can be reflected by language use and language structure. To explain, language can represent certain values, beliefs, philosophies, legacies, and social movements of a particular race or ethnicity. In this sense, African American Vernacular English (AAVE) can be an example of how language is related to the identity of race. In sociolinguistics, African American Vernacular English is a variety of English spoken among Black people in the United States of America. Like other varieties of language, AAVE has certain linguistic and grammatical rules. It has represented the identity of Black people for many years. Some linguists explain that AAVE has evolved from the language used among Black people in the era when they were slaves. People with a discriminatory mindset might view this language as “ungrammatical” or “not proper” as it is not “standard” English. Little do they know that every language or dialect is accurate in its rules, with its own phonological, morphological, semantic, pragmatical, or grammatical structure. When we know its origin and development, we can learn about Black people’s experiences, struggles, heritage, and social movements. AAVE can reflect the resistance against discrimination and the freedom and pride of Black people in representing their identity. As multiculturalism and cultural diversity are dominant is the present days, AAVE has been furthered studied, understood, and spread through media as one of the identities of Black people in The United States of America.
In conclusion, language is inseparable from identities, such as culture, gender, and race, and is crucial to understanding who we are. As language evolves with society, our responsibility as an individual in our community is to be open and understanding about language and diversity in people. Indeed, language is, and always will be, related to who we are, who we choose to be, what we do, and how we place ourselves in society as world citizens.
My name is Phuriwat Sitthichai from Thailand, and I am twenty years old. Right now, I am a third- year student of Faculty of Humanities, Chiang Mai University. I am majoring in English and minoring in Mass Communication. I apply this scholarship because I would like to test my writing skill as I have taken three writing courses at the university. I also would like to win this competition as I have financial issues, the prize will contribute to my tuition fee and cost of living.
Describe a moment when you were personally challenged by learning a new language, educational issue, or traveling abroad in the past. How did you overcome that challenge and what did you learn from it?
I was an exchange student in Turkey during 2018 until 2019. It was ten months living there. During my exchange year, I struggled with many issues, and the most challenging issue was learning Turkish, the new language as I had never learnt or known about Turkish before. People surrounding me could not speak English, so I was forced to know Turkish to understand them and to live an easier life. It consequently was really compulsory for me to acquire Turkish as soon as possible. Turkish has different sentence structure from English and Thai, and it is conjugational language. I also had to study and practice on my own. This learning was challenging and difficult for me. However, I eventually could overcome this huge problem.
I initially had no knowledge of Turkish language. I accustomed myself to Turkish by learning through a learning language application in order to learn basic words and the overall image of grammar. Therefore, I could determine and plan the direction of learning Turkish.
An important reason why I could win the obstacles of learning language is that I had a consistent motivation. I believe that the more I am motivated, the more powerful I am to succeed. During learning Turkish, I thought of motivational benefits when I can know Turkish, such as having more self-confidence in communication, being able to understand and communicate with Turkish host family and classmates clearly, and advantages of third language knowledge. These kinds of things push forward me to learn Turkish to be successful. Nevertheless, when people are suffering from something hard, they often feel discouraged. I also experienced with this while learning Turkish, but I went back to think of those motivations to encourage and stimulate myself. Motivation is what increases the chances and possibility of success.
Always speaking with Turkish people is the most effective learning way for me to get a wide range of vocabulary and correct language use. In my case, I spoke with members of the family I stayed and my classmates. I always got new words as well as slang and jargon when I was speaking with Turkish people. Moreover, by speaking with them, I imitated the correct pronunciation from them, and I always asked them to tell me if I made any errors. This is because Turkish has many sounds that similar to one another, and that was hard for me to pronounce some sounds. Apart from this, I could notice and imitate the language use in real life or situation from them, which my grammar and vocabulary books could not provide this much to me. Finally, as I have mentioned above that Turkish has different sentence structure from English and Thai, and conjugational rules, speaking with people made me familiar and better memorize them. They were like my valuable language learning assistants to make my communication in Turkish valid.
This experience of learning language makes me realize that knowledge of the overall image of the language and basic words would help activate and pave the way for getting into intensive part of language lessons. Motivation is also an important factor to learn a language successfully. When learners who lack of motivation encounter with difficulties during learning language, their attempt and desire of learning would decay as they learn language purposelessly. Lastly, speaking with the native speakers and speaking as much as you can, will make you get the actual language use from them, and you will be more fluent.
Take a deep breath. Just say something. Quick.
My mind raced as I finally made eye contact with the cashier.
Once again, another person beat me to it, rattling off his order of delicious baos and fried dumplings so quickly I could barely understand his Chinese.
My parents immigrated from China to the US right before I was born. I grew up in Houston, Texas and at home, my Chinese held up enough to have understandable conversations with my parents — I could even write a few traditional poems. So, for a girl who grew up in America, I always thought my Chinese was pretty decent. That was until I was humbled on my trip to China as a 15-year-old.
It was the first time my dad didn’t travel with me. My grandma was busy so I set out early to spend my first day exploring Shanghai alone. My first stop was this tiny dumpling house nearby. They sold my all time favorite food, Shen Jian Bao. These were the most delicious pan fried pork buns and when you took a bite, steaming hot broth would explode out.
I stepped into the small shop and immediately the savory aroma made my mouth water. However, it was also packed. Customers were shoving to get to the front and it seemed like pure chaos trying to get through the crowd. In my hometown, I was used to waiting neatly in lines so I first moved to the back to try and get in line. But I soon realized that somehow I was actually moving backwards and people who came in after me were cutting in front. Furious yet still shy, I tentatively squeezed forward enough to get a look at the menu.
Darn it. It was all Chinese and no pictures, my worst nightmare.
I spent a good minute trying to decipher the words I did know and piece them together like a puzzle. Unsure, I chose what I thought was a soup and pork buns and edged towards the cashier. As people kept rudely cutting me off, I thought back to my hometown, where all these adults would surely let a small, confused girl through first and be kind enough to offer some help. But here, I guess it was a culture shock that everyone truly minded their own business. Seeing all these people ordering dumplings made me understand the importance of taking my own initiative to make things happen.
Through a stroke of courage, I swiftly pushed to the very front and feigning confidence, I spoke my order. Then the cashier asked something I didn’t quite catch. He spoke too fast and I also wasn’t ready for follow up questions. I just nodded, paid, and finally went to wait for my food to be ready.
Stepping out of the dumpling shop, I realized I needed to act with greater confidence here. The rest of the day, I challenged myself to ask for directions as I got lost around the city and to learn how to bargain as I shopped. I know shopping and navigating doesn’t seem too significant, but for me, it was the act of
adapting to a foreign culture that I was proud of. It seems silly but ordering those pan fried pork buns taught me a great deal. First, it made me realize that what I think I understand can change drastically after experiencing something new. And never expect opportunities to be handed to me, I should always take initiative to put myself out there.
Now as I prepare to study abroad, I plan on taking those lessons with me to Copenhagen. I want to experience and overcome both the ups and downs of a foreign environment. I want to immerse myself in Danish culture, meet new people, and get out of my comfort zone in hopes of gaining independence and a more diversified perspective. There’s so much out there that I don’t know — I want to open my eyes to the things I don’t understand and the realities and issues that exist beyond my home. And as a landscape architect, I want to evaluate and apply my existing knowledge through my studies in Copenhagen. I aim to challenge my current design perspective by observing a city that’s the paragon of urban planning. Now a lot more confident than my 15-year-old self, I feel ready to take on my second experience abroad alone — one pork bun at a time.
As an advocate for language studies and on-to-go education, Ling is pleased to announce its new scholarship program!
At Ling, we believe your learning should be three things: fun, effective, and accessible. To ensure your success in all three of these areas, we’re constantly improving and upgrading our language learning app. First, we work towards making our app fun by having both engaging content and an inviting interface. Next, we work towards making our app effective by making sure you learn vocabulary and phrases that can be used in real-life situations, and that you receive immediate feedback on your learning progress every step of the way. Lastly,
we work towards making our app accessible by ensuring that you can learn anywhere, any time, and at an affordable price. However, this year, we’re also proud to offer the Learning Beyond Borders Scholarship because we want you to experience these learning values firsthand.
Ling is looking to award scholarships of 10,000 THB 8,000 THB 5,000 THB to the respective first, second-place and third-place individuals. Scholarships will be awarded based on eligibility and your personal statement. Students who apply MUST be enrolled in an approved university and be of rising sophomore status and above. For more information or to apply, please see the information below.
Please write 500-1,000 words answering one of the following prompts:
In addition please give your written essay a captivating title.
2 April 2023
16 April 2023