My summer at the Childhood Bilingualism Research Center was very fruitful; I accomplished all of my learning goals that I had set before beginning the internship. Time flew by as I worked on experiment design and data analysis, transcribed video files and learned how to use various programs and equipment at the Center. Additionally, I gained many new skills along the way that were beyond my expectations, such as learning how to use SPSS and the eye-tracker. Day by day, I became accustomed to the pace of working in academia alongside graduate students. All of these experiences will be useful for me in the future, academically and professionally.
I embarked on the internship with the academic goal of applying theoretical knowledge from my Brandeis courses to practical research. Originally only hoping to participate in experimental design, I actually got the chance to design an experiment from scratch. I created an interactive game studying trilingual children’s acquisition of spatial relations, making it fun for 4 to 6 year olds to participate in the study. In planning the experiment, I applied concepts from the language acquisition course I took this spring semester, and searched for relevant journal articles using databases introduced to me by a Brandeis professor. In my last week, I presented my ideas to the directors of the Center, Prof. Yip and Prof. Matthews, and all of the lab members.
Throughout the internship, starting from the Conference in May, I met and chatted with many linguistics professors from around the world who came to visit the Center here in Hong Kong. It was eye-opening and refreshing to hear about the most recent studies about multilingual education and language policies across the globe. Like many others at the Center, I took pride that Hong Kong is becoming a vibrant academic meeting point where students and scholars come together to discuss the topic of multilingualism. I believe that this increased discourse will extend into the mainstream culture and encourage more parents to raise their children multilingually. Last year, CBRC collaborated with Radio Television Hong Kong to create a hour-long TV program promoting the positive outcomes of child multilingualism. This discussion has also been featured in an International Herald Tribune op-ed piece entitled “Cantonese, Please”.
For those who are interested in a research internship in linguistics, I really encourage you to connect with professors, in and out of Brandeis. Many of them are very keen to get to know undergraduates who are beginning a path in linguistics. Since there are so many sub-fields in linguistics, be sure to find a professor whose research interests align with your own. They may offer you an internship if you display passion for the subject and willingness to learn.
During these past eight weeks, I gained valuable knowledge that will be important for me to have as I continue my studies in linguistics at Brandeis and explore possibilities for future research. I am so grateful to my supervisor and mentor Prof. Virginia Yip, without whom none of this would be possible and whose encouragement and guidance led me to challenge myself during the internship. Thank you to all of the lab members for introducing me to everything at the Center, showing me around the CUHK campus, and making sure I achieved all of my learning goals. Last but not least, thank you so much to the WOW committee for funding this very rewarding experience.
– Miriam Wong ’14