My name is Xuanmeng Lyu (I normally use my English name Xenia at school). I graduated from Dalian University of Foreign Languages, and was a visiting student on the one-year exchange programme at Swansea University, from October 2018 to June 2019 in my last academic school year. This experience not only broadened my horizons but also gave me ideas about the possibilities for my future career.
People who discover an interest in a particular area and who are able make it a career are very lucky. It is something I have been looking for myself, for a long time. In linguistics, I am sure that I have found my passion and began to fulfil a dream of a career in linguistics while studying on the exchange programme at Swansea University.
During the course here, I benefited from the interesting courses and began to understand the many possibilities and connections between linguistics and other areas – I began to fall in deeply in love with linguistics! In modules like the language of everyday life, I learned about the relationship between language in social and cultural contexts (through various media). In First Language Acquisition, I learned how we could apply linguistic phenomena, such as phonology and morphology, to explain different stages in children’s language development. In psycholinguistics, I gained a thorough understanding of how the brain generates thought and puts independent linguistic units into meaningful sentences, a process examined through fMRI, EEG and eye-tracking facilities. Moreover, the coursework part of the psycholinguistics module was exciting. The task was to diagnose which kind of aphasia four patients had, based on an analysis of their conversation. I realised that even the smallest unit of language can show whether what happens in language processing and brain function. The modules studied demonstrated the power of language and the ways in which we can apply to real life problem solving, which amazed me!
Swansea University and the Applied Linguistic department provides many opportunities for students to improve themselves. For example, I had the opportunity to take extra skills modules organized by Centre for Academic Success (CAS), alongside consulting with my professors, as I tried to improve my study skills and proficiency in academic writing. Apart from academic studies, I had a fulfilling experience as I was able to complete a WOW (week of work) placement. I enhanced my linguistic knowledge through this voluntary placement. As part of the placement, I observed conversations (including non-verbal cues such as gestures and change of tone) between patients and doctors at a local hospital. Along with the student research team (guided by Dr Alexia Bowler and Prof. Tess Fitzpatrick), I analysed data and reported our findings to the local health board, providing recommendations on how to support communication between clinicians and patients. The reason I applied for this placement was that it offered a rare chance to work with professional staff in hospitals. It also provided me with a chance to prepare for research activities in the future. It was a rare opportunity for me to engage into a new area and it encouraged me to pursue my interest in linguistics and application in other areas.
I also taught English weekly as a voluntary teacher to asylum seekers and refugees in local community, with Unity and Diversity, for about seven months. Without a fixed curriculum, I designed and prepared the content by myself. It was a challenge but I learned and reflected on my delivery every week, considering learners’ needs all the time. I also learned about cultural diversity of Swansea and even learned some Arabic after class! It was such a valuable experience for me to apply what I learned in my own studies.
The outcome of my year’s study is that I discovered how to adapt to new ideas, the potential for a new and challenging learning environment, and developed a consistent enthusiasm – I also became good at problem solving! I found my passion!
Currently, I am studying MSc TESOL in University of Edinburgh and I enjoy the parts where linguistic knowledge are combined with language processing processes. So! It is never late to pursue your dream. I hope I will be able to apply my knowledge of linguistics in my chosen future career!