Linguistics Personal Statement Example 5

I was eleven years old when, during a Russian lesson in my native St. Petersburg, our teacher revealed to the class as a curious fact that the Russian and the English words for ‘tree’ were cognates. Explaining the connection, she mentioned several terms that were new to me: Proto-Indo-European, etymology, linguistics. I remember being struck, and then enchanted, by the realisation that language comprised infinitely more than I was used to imagine, guided by familiar grammar books.

Throughout my middle school years, I explored the study of language through diverse materials, from articles and online lectures to linguistics-themed podcasts and YouTube channels, in both Russian and English. Complementing this, I undertook a course in journalism to benefit my knowledge of sociolinguistics and stylistics with practical expertise and began to learn a new language, French.

‘Russian Gestures from a Linguistic Perspective’, a set of corpus studies by Elena Grishina, was the first piece of linguistic literature I read. It made me reconsider the role of nonverbal components of communication and gave an insight into linguistic research. Further, as I wondered how gestures differed in speakers of other languages and what else they were affected by, it led me to discover works of Susan Goldin-Meadow on blind people’s gesturing and of Elena Nicoladis into the effects of bilingualism on gestures.

Their findings made me think of a direct evolutionary link between gesture and speech. Grishina’s book also introduced me to corpus linguistics, and soon I took part in the annotation of the first open-source text corpus in Russian, OpenCorpora, as a volunteer. My next reading, Henry Widdowson’s ‘Linguistics’, most captivated me by its account of the dispute over the mechanisms of first language acquisition. I, hence, turned my attention to ‘The Language Instinct’ by Steven Pinker and ‘Language and Mind’ by Noam Chomsky. I found myself not fully accepting the Chomskyan radically nativist view of FLA and forming a perspective that attempts to reconcile UG with elements of behaviourism.

While engaged with theoretical issues, I continued to find practical opportunities to pursue my passion. In 2018, inspired by encounters with foreign tourists during the FIFA World Cup, I started a blog on Russian as L2. Composing posts for it, as well as my followers’ feedback, massively contributed to my metalinguistic awareness.

This experience also reinforced my interest in the psychology of language learning that later found its outlet in my IB EE on gender differences in second language acquisition. During the next summer holiday, I assisted a speech and language therapist in her sessions with children suffering from ankyloglossia and dyslexia.

Their progress that I observed directly, coupled with her explanations, enhanced my understanding of speech anatomy and processing – and raised new questions. Thus incited to explore articulation and meaning in language yet further, I completed two university-level MOOCs in phonetics and phonology, and semantics and pragmatics.

In the IB curriculum, I am making the most of my study of languages, psychology and mathematics to inform my interest in linguistics. Apart from the psychology EE mentioned, my maths IA addresses voice acoustics. Additionally, I intend to participate in Finland’s Linguistics Olympiad this year.

My studies in Finland have secured the development of advanced academic skills and a strong command of English, offering various extracurricular activities and a vibrant multicultural environment. However, the UK has remained my highest priority as a place for further study, British universities topping international rankings for linguistics with instructors among the world’s leading experts undertaking cutting-edge research.

After getting a Bachelor’s degree, I plan to continue my education and subsequently, following my dream, dedicate myself to an academic career in linguistics.

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Author's Comments

Applied to:
University of Edinburgh (yes)
UCL (yes)
University of Leeds (yes)
University of Lancaster (yes)
University of York (yes)

Status: International

P. S. As you can see, my personal statement lacks some elements commonly associated with a "proper way" to write one -- such as neat paragraphing or discussion of hobbies unrelated to the chosen course and personal qualities. This made me worry when I was applying, and yet, I was successful! I know, however, that other present or future applicants might be concerned about the same things, so I am publishing my PS in hopes that it may be of use to someone.
I wish everyone good luck! ;)

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