GradSeason | Yi Tong: Charting Linguistic Landscapes


In September 2020, Yi Tong joined Xiamen University Malaysia, becoming one of the first undergraduate students of the Department of English Language and Literature Department. Thanks to its diverse curriculum and multicultural environment, XMUM met all of Yi Tong's expectations for English programme.


"Our class atmosphere is relaxed and enjoyable, while lecturers encourage interaction and critical thinking," Yi Tong shared, "I'm particularly interested in courses that can broaden my perspective. For example, the Postcolonial Literature taught me how to approach issues from different angles, which was very helpful in breaking down the inherent framework." 

What impressed Yi Tong most is that she can freely exchange ideas with lecturers, not just during office hours. 

"My thesis supervisor, Dr. Al-Saggaf, has been a great help to me. He not only provided a lot of guidance during the thesis writing process but also provided strong recommendations when I applied for graduate schools." 

Yi Tong collaborated with Dr. Al-Saggaf on a research project related to hybrid teaching after the pandemic. Yi Tong mainly focused on literature reviews, which greatly inspired her subsequent cognitive research, such as how to choose research-worthy topics and how to write research proposals.

In Yi Tong's mind, linguistics is profound and diverse: "It can be theoretical, focusing on various aspects such as syntax, semantics, and phonology. It can also be applied, such as how to improve second language learning ability or enhance foreign language communication skills, all within its scope of study."

When finishing the course, Yi Tong began to explore research on retroflex sounds. She found that retroflex sounds play a significant role in distinguishing between different phonemes, contributing to understanding pronunciation differences.

She chose this as her thesis topic: "In sociolinguistics, there is a theory called Audience Design. In the thesis, I applied this theory to study pronunciation, combining phonetics with sociolinguistics to explore their impact on pronunciation."

Second language acquisition is also one of Yi Tong's interests. During her internship, she worked as an English teacher in an educational institution, teaching students independently. She admitted that this teaching experience was extremely challenging:

"We had no information about the students' proficiency levels, so I had to judge for myself, such as setting the difficulty of questions or conducting oral tests to assess their English proficiency." 

Designing courses, preparing materials, grading assignments, parents' meetings - Yi Tong was fully engaged in every aspect of her busy teaching career. Simultaneously, this experience ignited her great interest in teaching.

After completing her thesis and internship, Yi Tong finally found the field she wanted to explore: the practical application of linguistic research results in education:

"Theoretical research is important, but I also hope that my future work will have practical value. Taking into account internship experience, I decided to turn to the field of education."

With her professional knowledge, practical experience and research passion, Yi Tong receives offer letters from University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University College London, and National University of Singapore.

Yi Tong believes that the most important thing in life is to persist in doing what you are interested in and good at. "I hope to pursue happiness and make a contribution to society, so I have always been thinking about how to make my research have more social impact, and maintain my passion and curiosity for life."

"In reality, there's no such thing as the best choice. Enjoy the process at any time. As long as you keep learning and improving yourself, the future will bring you good results." 

(Contributed by Yuan Yunyi)

News & Events

A Glance at XMUM