Matthew Patience

Matthew Patience

Matthew Patience

PhD Candidate, Spanish

“I work on the acquisition of Spanish by native Mandarin speakers who also speak English.”

I began studying Spanish in undergrad (University of Victoria), before spending some time in Spain and eventually moving to Argentina for almost five years. During my time there, I studied linguistics for one year at the University of Buenos Aires. I then decided to continue with graduate school, and moved to Toronto to do an MA. It was a great experience, so I decided to continue on with the PhD.

I am studying Hispanic Linguistics, funded by a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship. My primary interests are the theoretical aspects of second and third language acquisition of phonetics and phonology. I investigate how difficult the sounds of Spanish are to produce by native English speakers, and how much the difficulty influences the acquisition of those sounds. In addition to my dissertation, I work on the acquisition of Spanish by native Mandarin speakers who also speak English. My work has analyzed both developmental patterns of acquisition and cross-linguistic influence from the first and second languages.

My future goal is to find work as a professor, so it was important that I study in a strong program.

The Hispanic Linguistics program at the University of Toronto is exceptional, and the University has a great reputation, both in Canada and internationally. Moreover, the department went out of their way to help me when I was considering grad school at U of T. The faculty in our department are wonderful. They always make time for their students, and push us to be our best. The professors are very hands-on, always willing to assist with anything: review papers, abstracts, or proposals; organize workshops; meet to discuss whatever we need help with. They are very supportive.

The courses and workshops you can take to improve your teaching are very useful and are a great resource for students, such as the TATP [Teaching Assistants’ Training Program]/AUTP [Advanced University Teaching Preparation Certificate] program and the THE500 [Teaching in Higher Education] course. I have also attended English Language and Writing Support workshops and Graduate Professional Skills offerings, which have been very helpful.

I have been very lucky and have had many opportunities to travel within the US and Canada, and I have gone to Europe three times for conferences and to collect data for my dissertation. My experiences have been very positive. I always learn a lot at conferences, and meet many other researchers in my field; I’ve also received valuable comments about my work at these conferences.