Yimin (Nicole) Wang
Out of all the Linguistics courses at SFU, was there any particular lecture, topic, or professor that left a significant impression on you?
What impresses me the most is how applicable the linguistics courses are. I still remember analyzing foreign language samples and child data to generate the phonological patterns in the LING 321 – Phonology class. In LING 350 – First Language Acquisition, we used plain language to explain to parents some features in children’s language development. In LING 415 – Neurolinguistics, my group followed our own passion and designed a project to explore how language treatment can change the neural plasticity in people with aphasia.
I learned so much through the combination of lectures, group discussions and projects and it enables students to apply the content into solving the real-world problems. Isn’t this the important skill everyone needs once moves into a professional field?
What attracted you to the Speech-Language Pathology field?
Speaking Mandarin and English at school, Shanghainese and Wuxi dialect at home, I enjoyed the frequent switch across languages and dialects, which sparked my passion for language later on. Before I knew there is an occupation called Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP), I had considered several other career paths, such as teacher, doctor, coach, and social worker. I wanted something that has a bit of all that these occupations can offer, and I was more than thrilled to find that Speech-Language Pathologist literally has everything. Working in this field as a Speech-Language Pathologist Assistant, I enjoyed every moment helping my students with their communication skills and feel so fulfilled to see them progress.
SLP is also great in its flexibility in such a variety of client populations and work settings. I have already considered being a travel Speech-Language Pathologist after I graduate, so that I can work as a contract Speech-Language Pathologist in different countries and learn new languages while there.
A big aspect of the SLP application seems to be volunteer experience. What kind of volunteer experience did you have? How did this experience relate to your goal?
I have been very lucky to have volunteered with both clients with communication disorders and their families. Before I started working as a behaviour interventionist, I volunteered as a social coach in the PEERS program at a local speech clinic, where I observed how Speech-Language Pathologists provide group coaching of social skills to teenagers on the autism spectrum. Since it is a program for both teenagers and their parents, I also learned parental coaching skills, which prepared me well for my later volunteer at an online parental support group in China, where I was able to understand parents’ struggles and share with them language-related information from reputable organizations in North America.
I also volunteered at March of Dimes in two online groups of people with aphasia, where I discovered many fascinating life stories from participants and understood how important it is for professionals to listen to clients’ stories and understand their frustrations before offering advice.
When I took LING 321 – Phonology, I found the phonological rule interactions extremely interesting. Therefore, I applied and became a lab assistant at the Phonological Processing Lab at SFU. Alienology is the major project I worked on, where hands on experience was gained from designing the study, running young participants, to analyzing data. In future clinical practice, I will continue to think critically and use evidence-based approaches to offer diagnosis and treatment options to clients.
- LING 321: Phonology
- LING 350: First Language Acquisition
- LING 415: Neurolinguistics