Qiuyi Sun

Qiuyi Sun

Department of English Language and Linguistics
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: A Corpus-based Study on the use of modals by Chinese learners of English
Supervisors: Dr Paul Thompson and Dr Florent Perek

PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics


  • MA TESOL, University of Birmingham
  • BA Preschool Education, Nanjing Normal University
  • Exchange Program in Education funded by the China Scholarship Council, University of Strathclyde
  • Teacher Knowledge Test (TKT) Qualification in Module 1, 2, 3, CLIL and Young Learner
  • National Mandarin Certificate
  • Level 3 Early Years Educator qualification


I am interested in the use of modality and its disciplinary variation in learner academic writing. I believe in collaboration between learner corpus and second language acquisition study may be harnessed to improve our communication between researchers and practitioners. I have a unique perspective teaching students ranging from preschool children and undergraduates. I’ve taught English, Mandarin, and linguistic BA modules in face-to-face sessions and on various online platforms since 2018. I am also an influencer with 15,000 followers on Chinese social media Weibo. As a researcher, a teacher, and an influencer, I am keen to collaborate with industries and researchers to promote the academic findings to a wider audience such as teachers, students, and EdTech companies.


My research focuses on the use of modal verbs in learners’ academic writings using a corpus-based method. There has been substantial research undertaken on the frequency distribution of modal verbs used by Chinese EFL learners. However, little attention has been given to the semantic distribution of these modal verbs and their verb collocates in Chinese learner writing. This study seeks to add to the current understanding of learner use of modality in these two aspects with the help of corpora and semantic vector space models and, in addition, identify potential disciplinary variations. This study aims to expand our understanding of how Chinese learners use modality, providing implications for language teaching.

Other activities

  • Twitter: @qiuyi_sun
  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/qiuyisun/
  • Centre for Corpus Research at the University of Birmingham, Research Centre Assistant, January 2022-Present
  • Journal of the Undergraduate Linguistics Association of Britain, External Reviewer, September 2021-Present
  • Birmingham English Language Postgraduate Conference (Virtual) at the University of Birmingham, Chair, April 2021
  • British Association of Applied Linguistics, Membership, January 2020-Present
  • Spring Child Development Centre, External Consultant, January 2021- Present