Dr Warren Midgley
Dr Warren Midgley
When Dr Warren Midgley started teaching English in Japan twelve years ago he had one motivation – to pay the bills.
Based in Sendai, Dr Midgley and his wife were working as missionaries in the area but, with two young children to support, Warren started part-time teaching to supplement the family income.
“I never wanted to be a teacher - actually when I did my undergraduate degree I intentionally took courses so I wouldn’t become a teacher - but when I did start teaching I found that I loved it.”
To consolidate his knowledge, Warren completed a Master in Arts from Pacific Union CollegeInternational University in American and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching a Second Language (TSL) from USQ.
“I chose USQ because the program was so well designed back then for distance education and the lecturers were really good and very committed. By the end of the degree I thought ‘these are the kind of academics I want to work with.’”
On his return to Australia, Dr Midgley accepted a position in USQ’s ELICOS program, teaching intensive English language courses for overseas students.
“I had all these Saudi (Arabian) guys in my class and they were so different to my Japanese students - they were very loud and vocal and would yell out when they knew the answers, so culturally it was a very different teaching experience for me.”
Based on this insight, Dr Midgley decided to complete his PhD in the field of applied linguistics.
“I researched the experiences of Saudi students here at USQ – how they adjusted and what problems they had with their learning because they were studying in a second language and a second culture.
“It was very interesting for me to examine another culture, because the kind of support that Middle Eastern students need is very different to the needs of Asian students.
“For example, generally speaking, people from far east Asia are good at reading and writing English, but not as good at speaking and listening, whereas students from Middle Eastern countries tend to be better at oral communication, but are not as focused on writing.”
As a recipient of a USQ Postgraduate Research Scholarship, Dr Midgley received a 22K stipend per year for the duration of his studies.
“I chose to do my PhD at USQ because I wanted to conduct research in an academic environment where I would be known by my name, not just my number. I was not disappointed.”
Dr Midgley accepted a full-time academic role at the start of 2010 and is now focusing on developing his research profile.
“I see my PhD as a starting point. I enjoy teaching, but I am now looking to take my research to a different level in the field so I can speak with some sort of authority.”
Dr Midgley acknowledges completion of his thesis was extremely challenging at times, but believes it was worth the effort.
“Absolutely – I think it’s the most wonderful time of discovery - when else in your life do you get to spend three years focusing on something you love?
“It is a very, very rare opportunity in a career, but you need to find something that you are passionate about and find supervisors who are equally passionate about the subject - you need a good supervisor and a good topic.”