A Postcard From: Huilei Wang ’18

Name: Huilei Wang
Class Year: 2018
Major: Linguistics and Mathematics
Hometown: Jinan, China

Internship Placement: Childhood Bilingualism Research Center, Chinese University of Hong Kong
Job Title: Research Assistant
Location: Hong Kong

What’s happening at your internship?

I am working at a lab doing corpus-based research on language acquisition and development of bilingual and multilingual children. A number of projects are going on, including an eye-tracking experiment on infants, data collection with several Mandarin-English bilingual kids in Hong Kong and some in the United States with Mandarin or Cantonese as their heritage language, and etc. I started with the basics — transcribing recordings of a Mandarin-Cantonese-English trilingual child into text. It was completely new and challenging to me at the beginning, but as I got familiar with symbols and rules used in transcription and discovered the kids’ cuteness in speaking, I found myself really enjoy this tedious but rewarding work. After that, I was involved in tagging morphological tiers to the transcription and some analyses of a syntactic structure that appeared in a Mandarin-English bilingual child. I also got the chance to observe the eye-tracking experiment, which is an eye-opening experience to me since I’ve only read about this kind of experiments in books.

Why did you apply for this internship?

I am interested in language acquisition and bilingualism and as a Mandarin and English speaker, I am especially curious about Mandarin-English bilinguals. This research center in Hong Kong, a multilingual city, is a pioneer in doing such studies around the world and also a perfect place for me learn more about my interest.

Living in a new city? What has that experience been like for you?

It is definitely not easy at the beginning. Looking for apartments, moving in, getting familiar with the city’s complex streets, and so on, are all undeniable challenges. But thanks to the help from my colleagues, roommates, and friends, I adapted to the life here in a very short time. And Hong Kong itself is a safe, diverse and tolerant city, with food and culture from all over the world. So I wasn’t troubled by any lack of belonging. At the same time, Hong Kong is also a place that offers you a lot of fun. Wandering around the old streets in Central by myself or riding bikes with friends along the seaside and the authentic street foods next door made me fall in love with this city.

Can you give us three adjectives and three nouns that describe your internship experience?

It is hard to use only three adjectives to describe this experience, but the three that jumped out right away are enjoyable, rewarding, and inspiring.

Three nouns that I would choose are exploration, stories, and thinking.