Yunfei Xu

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I’m originally from China and I have been studying in England for almost six years and majority of my study has been completed at University of Leeds. I arrived in England in January 2014, and after my foundation course at Exeter, I came to University of Leeds in September 2014 to study English Language and Literature at the School of English. I continued my studies at Leeds, by completing my masters in Audiovisual Translation Studies, which is where I found my research interest.

What is your research area of expertise, and why did you choose to pursue this research area at Leeds? 

I am interested in the area of translation studies and the University of Leeds offers outstanding training in translation. My research topic is mainly about improving the quality of machine translation output through the use of controlled language, and how this would help to increase the efficiency of translating film subtitles. 

Having spent four years in Leeds completing my undergraduate and taught postgraduate courses, I've really enjoyed and appreciate the education that I've received from University of Leeds and I love the academic atmosphere here at the university. 

The research topic I chose for my PhD allows me to study the use of machine translation from linguistic perspective, which is a combination between the knowledge I have learned from my BA English Language and Literature course and my MA Audiovisual Translation Studies. In addition, when preparing for my proposal, I checked the webpage of PhD supervisors and their research areas and I noticed one of my current supervisors worked in the area of Computational Linguistics and was interested in supervising the area of improving machine translation quality with computational linguistics technologies. Therefore, was confident that I would be able to receive sufficient academic resource and supervision. 

What aspects of your research and studies you enjoy the most?  

I enjoy the process of translating one language into another and the process of polishing and perfecting a piece of translation. Although challenges will be encountered during the translation process, being able to come up with a reasonable solution and to overcome the challenge gives me a sense of achievement.

I think doing a PhD is a process of developing comprehensive skills, not only academic skills, such as academic writing skill, time management, revising and proofreading etc, but also skills that are necessary for future career, such as how to work and communicate with others, how to express myself and my research properly, and how to maintain a work and life balance. Therefore, I think doing a PhD is not academic-relevant only, but also a good preparation for future career. Personally speaking, I am currently enjoying all the aspects of my research.

What has been the most surprising thing about coming to Leeds?

I was surprised by the support that is offered by the university, not just academic support, but also pastoral support and helping all students - both UK and international students - feel at home at Leeds and get used to the student life here. The counselling centre offers free workshops and one to one support to help students to maintain a good mental wellbeing. Being a university student can be stressful at times and it is normal for students to feel down from time to time, so it is really encouraging to see how the university understands the difficulties and challenges that students are facing and offers support to encourage students to seek help when they need it..

What would you say about the learning facilities and extra curriculur activities in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies and the University of Leeds in general? 

I think the university offers very resourceful facilities for students to support their studies, which are both subject-relevant and also to do with developing the necessary academic skills. For instance, Skills@Library offers so many useful workshops about essay writing, note-taking, time management etc, which are really helpful to assist students (especially international students) get used to the academic life here in UK.

When I was an undergraduate student, I joined the Writing Back activities that was organised by School of English, which offered me a chance to become pen pal with an older person in Leeds and communicate with each other via letter-writing, which was really worthwhile to take part in.

Interconnections also organise activities, such as trips, for students from different Schools and departments to meet each other.

Personally speaking, I would love to try the Research Night activities, which would give me the chance to talk about my research with researchers from other Schools and departments and to improve my skills in presenting and articulating my research.

What would you say to anyone considering postgraduate research at Leeds?

The University of Leeds is definitely an ideal option. The outstanding academic training as well as the support provided by the university will help you to enjoy your studies and your stay here at Leeds.

What do you plan to do when you’ve finished your research?

I am planning to continue my research in the area of translation. Having the privilege to study and to receive outstanding academic support at Leeds, I think the skills and knowledge I am currently working on to develop will help me to construct a good foundation in pursuing my goal.