merkouris (merkouris) wrote in compling,

Non-CS background, interested in PhD Computational Linguistics

I'm considering applying to a PhD program in Computational Linguistics in 2-3 years. I have a linguistics background but little expertise with programming. I'm interested in
     1) feedback about how realistic it would be for me to pursue this path;
     2) objectives for independent study to develop key skills/knowledge to be successful with Computational Linguistics.

I would be interested in a career path that would take me in academia or the private sector, definitely doing something more than just theory, but actual programming and stretching the bounds of how computers interact with human languages. Having developed quite a bit of expertise teaching English as a second language to people, I'm wondering if perhaps I might help teach English to computers someday ;)

A little background about me:

I have excellent reading/writing skills in English, with a humanities/linguistics background, a BA in History and MS in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (akin to a masters in Applied Linguistics). I've been working as a teacher for about ten years (mostly dealing with learning disabilities and learning English as a second language) and am very passionate about languages in general. I've had some measure of success with my masters program, doing research, winning a graduate student research award, and getting published in a peer-reviewed journal. After I won the award, many people asked me, "When are you going to do a PhD?" But I want to transition to the hard sciences, and given my background in linguistics (work and education), it seems like Computational Linguistics would be a good fit. However, I have only casual experience with computer programming. I worked as a financial analyst for several years (before going into teaching), becoming very adept with MS Excel & Access, starting to learn visual basic and scripting within Access.

What do you think? Anyone, anyone?

thanking you in advance,

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