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Mr. Jaehan Park (May 2014)

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Mr. Jaehan Park with His Former Students in Mongolia

Mr. Jaehan Park with His Former Students in Mongolia

Mr. Jaehan park shares his story about receiving a DDG from TIRF, as well as information about his study, current work, and more.

TIRF: What were the main findings of your study for us in a few sentences?

Mr. Park: Through my dissertation research, I wanted to explore Korean professors’ pedagogical knowledge of English-medium instruction (EMI), as they teach mostly Korean students using English as the language for learning and teaching. I was able to identify a variety of instructional strategies for EMI, including language use and instructional strategies in and outside of the classroom.

There were two other fascinating findings. The first is that the professors used translanguaging as pedagogy of EMI in the classroom. To do so, these professors used multiple linguistic and non-linguistic resources to make and co-construct meaning to achieve their primary instructional goal – students’ content learning. The other finding of interest is that besides using instructional strategies, the professors negotiated university language policy through classroom-level language policymaking and implementation.

TIRF: What did you learn about doing research in the process of completing your dissertation?

Mr. Park: Interestingly, I learned that the approach I took for my data collection can contribute to the professional development of those professors. I started building relationships with my study participants by having conversations about their lives as learners and teachers. Based on the information they gave me, I tried to understand their instructional approaches and needs for support and professional development. Through these relationships, I was able to build trust and share my understanding of effective pedagogy of EMI and answer their questions related to using English as a language for learning and teaching.

TIRF: Where are you currently working and what does your position involve?

Mr. Park: For the past five years, I have been a program coordinator of ESL/EFL teacher education programs at Indiana University School of Education. As I write the discussion section of my dissertation, I am seeking a university teaching position. I am overjoyed every time the interviewers recognize my TIRF DDG on my CV and see my potential as an emerging researcher!

TIRF: What did receiving the TIRF Doctoral Dissertation Grant mean to you?

Mr. Park: When I was preparing my application for the TIRF DDG competition, I had growing doubts about my career as a researcher in the field of English language education. I saw the need for classroom-based research on English-medium instruction in Korean universities and decided to conduct the research using my own private funds. Due to both financial difficulty resulting from my doctoral study abroad and a lack of recognition of the value of the work, when submitting my application for the DDG competition, I said to myself, “If I don’t get this one, maybe I should give up and find a career other than as a researcher in ELT.” A few months later, as I was looking at the email message that said TIRF had decided to award me a DDG, I was literally in tears. I still vividly remember the moment when I said to my wife “This award has saved my life!”

TIRF: What would you say to someone who is considering donating to TIRF?

Mr. Park: Your donation to TIRF will give emerging researchers like me much needed affirmation and encouragement as they go through one of the most challenging tunnels of their lives. Moreover, receiving a TIRF DDG does not merely mean recognition and financial support to the recipient. For me, the DDG gave me an opportunity to meet with TIRF Board members who are accomplished researchers, which also allowed me to establish relationships with them. Dr. Kathi Bailey met with me in the midst of her busy schedule during AAAL and TESOL and introduced me to new colleagues. Similarly, Dr. MaryAnn Christison, the Chair of the Foundation’s Research Advisory Committee, has also supported me. I feel as if I was adopted into a special family of ELT researchers through being awarded a TIRF DDG. These experiences all started from donors’ financial contributions to TIRF. Your donation will enable TIRF to do important work in supporting and developing researchers in English language education.