Beatrice Pana

Interview Transcript

I thought a good and efficient way of completing one of my required blog posts for this class was to post my transcript for the interview I had with Prof. Eva Fernandez which I included in my groups final presentation. I thought this would be an excellent idea because it might help people in the groups that have yet to present.

So without further ado, here is my interview transcript: B=me; F=Prof. Fernandez

B: What is your official title and what do you do?

F: I am an associate professor in the LCD department and part of the faculty in two departments and the graduate center. I teach classes in undergraduate and graduate study such as LCD 105, bilingualism, and second language acquisition. I study/am interested in sentence processing and bilingualism. I also research sentence processing and ambiguity.

B: Do you work more on the linguistics part or the Speech Pathology part?

F: Linguistics part, but most of the classes I teach are under Speech Pathology.

B: What made you want to become (official position) ?

F: In high school I thought I wanted to study the history of language but in college I started taking linguistics courses and then discovered psycholinguism and that’s what I was eventually interested in. My interest in psycholinguism resulted from readings and just pure interest. I later applied to grad school to study how speakers of German acquire first language, syntax, and second language acquisition. Then I went to my advisor and she/he suggested psycholinguistics.

B: What are some of the conflicts within your discipline? How do you, yourself, go about facing these conflicts?

F: The major conflict in the discipline is how people acquire language. There are two sides to this conflict; there are some linguists that believe that kids are born with the innate ability of language, that is called the nativist view. There are also some linguists that believe that people are not born knowing language but know by outside influence once they’re born. There’s no middle ground in this conflicting and it’s all based on evaluating evidence.

B: Does this field require you to interact with people outside of your field? Speech Pathologists or audiologists maybe?

F: Yes, the field is quite interdisciplinary. I work with professors from the computer science, anthropology, sociology, neuroscience, and cognitive neuroscience departments. Also, sometimes, I work with speech pathologists.

B: How does this field connect its discipline with an overall liberal education?

F: Well the objective of the field is knowing what it’s like to be human and this can be learnt interdisciplinary. Mainly, describing what language is and how it works.

B: How do you as well as other people in your field determine or evaluate success?

F: By helping students overcome myths many people have in regards to language. Also, by having more conversations about these kind of things because linguists do have a better understanding of literacy, etc. But the main way to evaluate success in this field is through the publication of peer reviewed publications and grants. The more peer-reviewed publications and grants you have, the likelier you are to obtain a promotion.

B: Does the field require you to work under pressure? If yes, how so?

F: Yes, especially in research. There is pressure to obtain a grant, then there is the pressure to continue to operate a lab, then you have due dates, permissions, and remarks. In publishing for example, you submit a paper and it is sent to peer-reviewers who may ultimately decide that it is good, but not good enough, sometimes there is also time pressure, but most people feel the psychological pressure of it.

B: What two or three things are most important to you in your job?

F: My commitment to the social mission, my important function in teaching students from underprivileged backgrounds. Also, the study of language provides me with great intellectual satisfaction in solving problems; it is intellectually challenging, and stimulating. I also love to write.

B: What is the most important thing you need to remember in your field?

F: Lots of things. A good solid experimental design, the right amount of resources, enough resources to run the experiment, guidelines, documentation, protocols, forms, protecting participants identity, data collection, storage and sharing, and most importantly to disseminate your findings faithfully.

There was certainly more to the interview but I just input the parts I felt were most important. I’m glad I had this experience, it taught me not only how to communicate with professors, but also to not be afraid of any professor because they are all here to help you, you just have to reach out to them.

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