February 14, 2020

Linguistics alumna Emily Huang leverages her multilingualism into a career

Emily Huang had always enjoyed learning new languages. She picked up four other languages in addition to her native Mandarin Chinese, and wanting to share her love for language learning, the linguistics alumna initially planned on becoming an English teacher.

But a conversation with a classmate got her thinking—she was multilingual and interested in continuing her language study, so why not make it into a career?

Shortly after her graduation last summer, Huang enrolled in the Mandarin Chinese/English Interpretation and Translation Diploma Program offered by Simon Fraser University (SFU). A professional training program spanning over eight months, the program can be challenging and intensive but Huang's linguistics background provided her with an advantage. 

"I'm glad that I studied linguistics as it helped me with my interpretation skills," says Huang. "The grammar and sentence analysis was helpful for my translation work while syntax and semantics made it easier to understand sentence structure for better comprehension." 

Eager to gain technical skills and practical experience applicable to her future career, Huang chose SFU's interpretation and translation program because of its hands-on learning approach. The program incorporates field training into its curriculum so students visit a different organization every week to interpret on-location for professionals in various fields such as government, healthcare, manufacturing, and more. 

Looking back at the progress that she has made in the program, Huang credits the Department of Linguistics for nurturing her personal and academic growth. 

"The support I received from my instructors and the Writing Centre taught me to be a critical thinker and to be more independent," says Huang. "It is the people, the academic environment, and the progress that I made that changed my perspective of the world. I believe that is my biggest success at SFU." 

As Huang reaches the end of the program, she plans to work toward becoming either a professional community interpreter or a court interpreter. However no matter where she ends up, there is one constant in Huang's future plans—she plans to continue her love for language learning. 

"Interpretation and translation is a lifelong learning field so you have to be passionate about what you do," says Huang. "But that is what I love about this field and it is exactly how I want my future career to be." 

Recommended Linguistics courses: 

Interested in pursuing a career in intepretation and translation? Below are some course recommendations from Emily: 

  • LING 290: The Science of Speech 
    I recommend this course to students who want to specialize in medical interpreting so that they can know more about the mechanisms of speech production. 

  • LING 330: Phonetics
  • LING 322: Syntax
  • LING 324: Semantics
    These three courses can help with your listening comprehension and sentence structure, which is useful when it comes to interpretation. 

  • LING 415: Neurolinguistics 
    This is the most interesting linguistics course that I have ever taken. It explains the language system in your brain and the brain terminology might help with your medical interpretation as well. 


Skilled interpreters and translators are in demand in today’s global marketplace. They work in a large number of contexts, including international development, education, business, health care, media, government, legal services and much more.

Upcoming Info Sessions: 

Interpretation AND Translation Diploma

  • Tuesday, February 18th
  • 6:30 - 8:30 pm
  • SFU Harbour Centre Room 2205

  • Tuesday, April 14th 
  • 6:30 - 8:30 pm 
  • SFU Harbour Centre Room 7000


  • Wednesday, March 11th
  • 6:30 - 8:30 pm
  • SFU Harbour Centre Room 7000


  • Tuesday, February 20th
  • 6:30 - 8:30 pm
  • SFU Harbour Centre Room 7000