Tyler Lau

Tyler was born and raised in New York City and raised trilingual, speaking Cantonese with his father and Thai with his mother, which set the grounds for his intense interest in language. His interest continued when he entered Hunter College High School, where he learned both Spanish and French, and it didn't stop there. When he began college at Yale University, he had the privilege of studying both Korean and Japanese, and it was there that he discovered his passion for linguistics. During a fellowship, Tyler was able to live in Seoul, South Korea for a year where he was immersed in intensive Korean language classes. While there, he also tutored ESL speakers and translated multiple Korean language learning textbooks for English speakers. After he graduated summa cum laude from Yale with a B.A. with distinction in Linguistics, he received another fellowship that allowed him to live on the remote island of Ishigaki in southern Japan for a year, where he was also able to conduct fieldwork documenting endangered languages spoken there. He is currently a Ph.D student in linguistics at Harvard University. His research focuses on historical linguistics and understanding and modeling patterns of language change. As a Cambridge Coaching tutor, Tyler enjoys helping students prepare for standardized tests, like the SAT and GRE, as they oddly recall some of his work in linguistics. Of course, he also enjoys teaching foreign languages! In his free time, he enjoys catching up on TV shows, reading books, biking, and just wandering around cities. He also loves to cook, especially Thai food!

Recent Posts

What’s the International Phonetic Alphabet and What’s so Great About it?

Posted by Tyler Lau on 10/12/15 10:00 AM

IPA will help you with English, but also for learning any language!

Nope, it’s not the beer, though that’s pretty great too! The IPA stands for the International Phonetic Alphabet and is a standardized way to write down the sounds of any language. Sounds impossible, doesn’t it? But we’ll see how this system captures nuances of sounds in the world’s languages and why this is a great tool not only for understanding English, but also for learning any language.

You might have seen transcriptions before that almost look like English, but not quite, like the following for the word ‘casing’:

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Tags: language learning

Should I Become a Linguistics Major?

Posted by Tyler Lau on 9/30/15 10:00 AM

In a previous post I explained what, exactly, linguistics is, and provided an introduction to its different branches. Now I’m asking: why should you become a linguistics major?

Reason #1: To gain a better understanding of English (or any language!)

Linguistics seeks to understand how languages work. Even just an introductory linguistics course can unravel much of the mystery and rules of language, and can enlighten you on features of the English language that you might not have even been aware of.

Here's an example:

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Tags: language learning

A Review of Duolingo: Is it Really Worth Your Time?

Posted by Tyler Lau on 8/31/15 11:00 AM


Meet Duo, the Duolingo mascot!

Interested in learning a foreign language in a fun, low-pressure way? Addicted to your smartphone? Duolingo might be the app for you! As an avid language learner (avid to the point where I’m now pursuing a Linguistics PhD), I was thrilled to discover an app that allowed me to learn languages passively without feeling like I was devoting all my time to it.

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Tags: language learning

SAT Math Section Tips: Triangles

Posted by Tyler Lau on 8/7/15 11:00 AM

Triangles can be very different!

The SAT math section is full of triangles. They’re the most basic 2D shape that you can create and they can be found everywhere, so the SAT wants to make sure that you have the basic facts down pat. So let’s look at some tricks and facts about triangles. We’ll start by looking at the triangle below (not drawn to scale).

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Tags: math SAT subject test, SAT, math

What is Linguistics? - Intro to Branches of Linguistics

Posted by Tyler Lau on 7/29/15 9:00 AM

[image source]

Many students start college with no idea what linguistics is, and it’s possible they won’t even brush past it throughout their entire college career. Today, I’ll demystify and explain exactly what linguistics is and hopefully encourage you to at least take an introductory class! When I tell people that I'm doing a PhD in linguistics, there are three main responses that I hear:

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Tags: Linguistics

How to Solve SAT Word Problems

Posted by Tyler Lau on 6/15/15 2:20 PM

Slow and methodical does it... (Big Bang Theory)

Word problems on the SAT can be very intimidating. A lot of students cruise along the rest of the math section and then freeze as soon as they see a word problem. Why am I being quizzed on reading comprehension??? But don’t panic! The trick is to figure out how to translate these word problems into the familiar math problems you’ve been seeing all along.

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Tags: SAT

How to Learn (and Retain) Foreign Language Vocab

Posted by Tyler Lau on 6/1/15 3:45 PM

Julie Andrew knows a thing or two about mnemonics

Learning vocabulary in a new language can be a really daunting task, especially when you think about the thousands (and that’s probably an understatement!) of words you have to learn. But language learning doesn’t have to be all boring rote memorization. In fact, unless you want to forget all these words the next day, it’s better not to just memorize blindly. In this post, I’ll introduce a few tricks you can use to efficiently learn and retain vocabulary. Psychological research has shown us that we learn best by association, so that’s what I’m going to preach here: 

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Tags: language learning