Ting Zeng, MA Linguistics and English Language Teaching

Ting Zeng

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

My name is Ting Zeng and I am from China. I graduated with a bachelor degree in Translation Studies and then took a gap year working as an English teacher in an English complementary school in China.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

During the process of learning English and French I found many similarities and differences between these languages and my native language, Chinese. This made me curious about the amazing world of linguistics. In addition to this, my own experience of learning English has shown me that learning a language is not just about memorising vocabulary and grammar rules; it involves a systematic process. One field of linguistics, language acquisition, deals with this process, which increased my interest in studying English language learning from the perspective of linguistics, instead of from the perspective of education. Leeds is one of the few universities in the UK to have a course that combines these two areas.

What aspects of the course do you enjoy the most?  

My favourite part of my course is the way it gives you critical reading skills. The major difference between postgraduate and undergraduate study is that postgraduate courses require you to think deeply and broadly, so that you can design your own research project to investigate a new or old problem which hasn’t been solved. 

Developing these skills not only helped me to gain a lot of ideas about my essay and dissertation, but also enables me to read clearly, carefully and critically in my everyday life. When I am reading newspapers and magazines, for example, criticality helps me to avoid being misled by the words and opinions of others.

What activities have you taken part in outside of your studies?

Leeds University Union runs a lot of activities to help you relax, such as yoga and dance classes and day trips to other places in Yorkshire or the rest of the UK, which gives students (especially international students) opportunities to explore more of the country. I’ve taken a hiking trip in Hope Valley, Derbyshire, where I met a lot of international students and we all enjoyed the great nature and had fun.

Outside of the University, Leeds is a city of great art and culture. There are a lot of activities all year around, including several big public arts and music festivals – my favourite venues are the Town Hall and Leeds City Museum. Unlike other big cities, Leeds is a medium-sized city where the living costs are relatively low, and there are many shops and shopping centres with everything you need.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

The course is well designed, as it not only gives you an opportunity to systematically study different areas of linguistics (such as syntax, phonetics and phonology) but also provides you with many contemporary theories about English language teaching. The Linguistics and Phonetics department is like a big family with members speaking many different languages, which as a linguist I found very inspiring. The academic staff are all very knowledgeable, strong in their field, thoughtful and considerate, and my tutor always provided any help I needed.

As an international student, I always feel welcomed by people here in Leeds. Three of my flatmates are British and they are always willing to tell me where to find some great food and places to enjoy a weekend. Also, the staff at the university are very thoughtful and warm-hearted - I can always get help when I need it. Coming to Leeds to study Linguistics is one of the best choices I’ve ever made, I’m very glad I came.

What do you plan to do after you’ve graduated?

I’m planning to be an English teacher in my home country after graduation. I believe the presentation skills which we practiced a lot in the classroom during my course will help me to perform confidently during job interviews, and the critical thinking and analytical skills I’ve developed will also help me to tackle many problems in the workplace. Most importantly, by learning English language teaching from the perspective of linguistics, I have gained a lot of ideas about how to teach English in a systematic and scientific way. Hopefully this will benefit my future students a lot.