Fulbright Scholar Enjoying UTA Experience

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When Ji Yea Kim left her home in Seoul, Korea, last year to begin work on a doctorate in linguistics at The University of Texas at Arlington, she had plenty of expectations for her new life in the U.S.

After all, she had selected UT Arlington’s program based on the strength of faculty research and was familiar with American culture, having lived in Colorado for a year during her youth. But what impressed her most about her new surroundings is the high level of encouragement from those around her.

“The people here are very nice,” Kim said. “The professors are enthusiastic. For graduate students it’s important to have access and discussions with professors to explore your research ideas. Their offices are always open and they enjoy talking to their students.”

Kim, a Fulbright Scholar, completed her master’s degree at Seoul National University. Her research covers the production and perception of English sounds made by native English and native Korean speakers. She is using the labs and tools available at UTA to acoustically analyze participants’ voices, examining how various speakers produce certain speech sounds and intonation.

“My research falls in line with what the Fulbright supports,” she said. “There are educational implications for English as a second language – especially among Koreans interested in learning English and facing the challenges of different sentence and sound structures.”

Kim is one of four Fulbright scholars at UTA this year. The others are Ulyana Zavadskaya of Belarus, a marketing research master’s student; Kaija-Luisa Kurik of Estonia, a doctoral candidate in the School of Urban and Public Affairs; and Jeyar Alsofi of Iraq, a materials science and engineering master’s student.

Each year, nearly 800 faculty and professionals worldwide receive Fulbright grants for advanced research and university lecturing in the United States. Recent Fulbright award recipients from the College of Liberal Arts include Associate Professor Ritu Khanduri (Anthropology), Associate Professor Alusine Jalloh (History), Lecturer Toni Holland (English) and recently retired professor Wendy Faris (English).

Kim has quickly found a home among the Department of Linguistics and TESOL faculty and students. She has served as a teaching assistant and is currently a research assistant for Assistant Professor Naoko Witzel. She won a prize for her oral presentation at the annual UTA Student Conference in Linguistics and TESOL in February and will present part of her research work at UTA’s Annual Celebration of Excellence by Students (ACES) symposium on March 25 and at a conference in University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in April. Last fall, she was awarded a Dean’s Excellence Fellowship from the College of Liberal Arts.

“The Department of Linguistics and TESOL has been always pleased to welcome scholars from around the globe who are focused on examining the structure, use, and comprehension of human languages,” said Associate Professor and Department Chair Laurel Smith Stvan. “We’ve been delighted to have Ji Yea join the program this year. She’s gotten off to a great start already by developing and submitting a number of research projects.”

Kim said life outside the classroom has exceeded her expectations as well: She has discovered fried pickles and shared pictures of the Texas snow and ice from late February and early March with her family back home.

“I like it here very much,” she said. “This has been a great experience.”

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 (By James Dunning/COLA Communications, jdunning@uta.edu)

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