Yimin (Nicole) Wang

August 19, 2022

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


Embrace with every opportunity that comes to you, even if they are not directly SLP-related. One opportunity often connects to another, and many skills are transferrable. Make a good balance among school, volunteer/work, and your own mental care. Do not feel nervous when reaching out to faculty members and Speech-Language Pathologists, as many of them are very approachable and willing to support.

For those like me, who are mature students or whose first language is not English, trust in yourself and work hard. It is a big mountain to climb, but just one step a time, we can all get to the peak. Sometimes, we might feel that we are not good enough, but schools are looking holistically at the whole image of the applicant. Show to schools our unique perspectives in cultural diversity and what our previous life and work experience can bring to the program and the Speech Language Pathology field. We all deserve to be great Speech Language Pathologists.