Language Projects

A knowledge of one or more foreign languages can be useful in a wide range of research projects in UROP. For some projects, translating and interpreting are one of the main requirements. For others, a combination of languages and other qualifications, knowledge or skills may be needed. For example, people with languages plus web site development experience are needed. 

Projects requiring language skills (both written and/or oral) can be found in all disciplines through UROP.  Below is just a small sampling of the types of projects students with different language skills can work on.

Sample Project 1: Language & Culture Explored Using Chatting On-line

Project Objective & Methodology:  
The project objective is to find what if any cultural and language learning took place between the American and the Spanish (Madrid, Spain) students. Participating in on-line chatting.  Methodology used:  Vocabulary lessons, Chatting, Video Conferencing

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:
Student researchers will need to read chat logs and tally language learning vs. cultural exchanges. Student/s will also read Michigan students reflections to see if their reflections match our findings from the chats. Students will search for literature on the topic.

Student Qualifications:
Spanish 232 or equivalent (per University Placement Exam)

Sample Project 2: Genetic Counseling in an Interpreted Setting

Project Objective:  
The purpose of this research study is to identify factors that contribute to establishing communication and trust in an interpreted genetic counseling setting.  Genetic counselors see patients in prenatal, pediatric, adult, cancer and other specialty clinics to address concerns that may arise from the diagnosis of a genetic condition.  Across the country, genetic counselors are seeing an increasing number of patients who are fluent in languages other than English.

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:
Literature review, Medline search, recruit and enroll participants for focus groups, observe focus groups, and transcribe audio tapes into written transcript (Spanish or other language) as well as translate (Spanish or other language) into written English.

Student Qualifications:
Bi-lingual/bicultural in Spanish; motivated, can work independently yet ask questions when appropriate, some self awareness of cultural identification, competency in diversity and cultures; open to PEERRS Human Subject Training.

Sample Project 3: Muslims in Europe

Project Objective:
Four UM faculty members have interview data from over 800 Muslims in three European cities (London, Madrid, Berlin), and we want to understand their immigration experiences, their political and social attitudes, their social networks, their general health, and their religious behavior and beliefs.  A quantitative survey was conducted, as well as a small number of qualitative interviews.

Student Tasks & Responsibilities:
Translation and coding of qualitative interviews with Muslims interviewed as part of this project--about 20 interviews.  Transcription done on some of the interviews.  If you speak and read German, Spanish, or Turkish fluently, then this is a great opportunity to learn more about Islam, about Europe, about immigration, and about social science research more generally.

Student Qualifications:
Students who can do any of the following:
Translate German into English; translate Spanish into English; translate Arabic into English; translate Turkish into English.

Sample Project 4: Efficacy of Chinese Proficiency Test (HSK) at the University

Project Objective:
HSK is a Chinese proficiency test officially sponsored by the PRC Ministry of Education for the assessment of Chinese competence of non-native learners. It functions like TOEFL (test of English as a foreign language), which was developed in this country. HSK was introduced into the United Stated in 1998 through our University, and today we are still the largest HSK center on a university campus, which offers HSK at its various levels on an annual basis. This project is intended to maintain and operate the U-M HSK center, and study its efficacy to support instruction and research.

Student Tasks and Responsibilities:

  1. Study HSK introductory materials. 
  2. Assist faculty sponsor in scheduling and coordinating HSK activities. 
  3. Provide services for test-takers, such as taking registrations, proctoring, and distributing test results. 
  4. Draft an annual report based on test data.  
  5. Handle e-mail and web work for the project.

Student Qualifications:
Interest in language and language testing; interpersonal skills; ability to work independently; some experience in coordination and administration; some flexibility in time schedule; good English writing ability. Competence in Chinese (preferred).