ALUMNUS REPORT: TRISTAN THORNE

Tristan Thorne graduated with the BA in Language Studies in Spring 2008 and has pursued an interesting career path focused on language ever since. Tristan was recently persuaded to write to WHASC to give an account of where his studies have taken him since 2008 and what his current projects are.


After graduating in 2008, I taught English to adults in a small town in AndalucĂ­a, Spain for one year. Studying Spanish as part of the BA degree in language studies was a huge help in acclimating to life there. The following year I applied to and was accepted into the JET Program, and taught English to high school students in a rural farming town in southern Japan for two years. During that time, I began to realize that my love for teaching and language, which I discovered soon after taking an introduction to linguistics course at UCSC, would benefit by returning to school.


Now, I’m about to graduate with an MA in applied linguistics from Teachers College, Columbia University in New York. For my master’s project, I conducted a survey on name use practices and beliefs of East Asian adults living in New York City with something of a phonology-oriented lens. I wanted to know, for example, how these individuals change their non-English names when introducing themselves to English speakers, such as name shortening, changing syllable stress, dropping tones, and changing sounds to conform to English phonological constraints (more information on the project can be found here). I’m really excited to be given the chance to present some of the material at an international conference in Rhode Island in August.


As phonology has been one of my favorite areas in linguistics, it seems fitting that I teach a pronunciation course for ESL adults here at TC. I’m also an instructor at an English school in midtown Manhattan. During the summer, I’ll work as an adjunct faculty instructor at the American Language Program at Columbia’s main campus, and also be a teacher coach for the TESOL Certification Program at TC. In the future, I may pursue a PhD with an emphasis on exploring the relationships between second language acquisition and identity.