Summer internships for LEL students

Posted on August 13, 2018 by

While Manchet was away on a summer break, LEL undergrads have been busy working on an array of research projects.

Ziyun Zhang (Linguistics and Sociology) has worked as a Research Assistant joint research project between Patrycja Strycharczuk (LEL), Tucker Gilman (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences) and Alex Baratta (School of Environment, Education and Development). Ziyun’s internship was funded through the University’s Summer Experience internship programme.


Ziyun working in the Phonetics Lab

Here is Ziyun’s description of her internship:

Most of my job was involved research on northern English accents, including standing outside (and shouting) to recruit participants, recording their speech with professional equipment, and processing data with Praat. Well, I was also lucky enough to engage in other projects, for example, I separated the female fruit flies from the male ones with a microscope!

I’ve gained a lot from this internship. First of all, it’s a very good opportunity to see what exactly the academic life is like, and to gain research experience. I’ve also learnt some specific linguistics knowledge that I haven’t learnt from the course. Second, it was very nice to meet people in the field. I had a better understanding of linguistics in different fields (especially phonetics) after talking to my very nice boss (Pat!) and the PhD students working around me. I also met interns from other disciplines to see what’s going on outside linguistics and sociology. Of course it’s more than just work: some of them are my very good friends now! Additionally, I’ve gained transferable skills, like time management and the skills to talk to strangers during the recruitment. I didn’t think I had the ability to speak English properly when asking people to recruit and conducting the recording, but I made it.

Meanwhile, at the University of Lancaster, two more Manchester LEL students are currently working on a Q-Step internship on analysing big data in linguistics. The internship involves processing and analysing data from the English Dialects App corpus – audio recordings from more than 3700 speakers from across the UK. The data are used to examine speech variation across the UK, and the results will inform research on speaker profiling and speaker identification.

Enhui Cheng (BA Linguistics with Spanish) and Chloe Gornall (BA Linguistics) are the two interns working on this project. When Manchet asked them what they’ve learnt from their internship, they mentioned advanced software skills in Praat, R and Excel, as well as working with real data (‘In this research, the data is not as perfect as examples we may have in class, so it required more steps to optimise the dataset‘). Amidst all the data work, Enhui and Chloe have also enjoyed meeting new people, being part of a research team, getting work experience, and discussing their postgraduate plans with their mentor at Lancaster, Dr Georgina Brown.


Enhui (left) and Chloe analysing audio data