Carnegie Mellon University
April 10, 2024

Senior Combines Interests in Language Learning, Technology

By Marissa Pekular

Lily Madojemu has always had an interest in learning languages. Her father knows various languages, including English, Esan, Russian and Nigerian Pidgin. So growing up, multilingualism was the norm. As she embarked on her undergraduate experience, Madojemu developed a curiosity for language learning and human-computer interaction.

“I’ve seen the evolution of how education has been supported with technology,” said Madojemu. “I think it would be cool to be a part of that space of development.”

With interests in computer science as well as the humanities, Madojemu thought that CMU would be a great fit. During her time at CMU’s Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, she majored in applied multilingual studies and pursued an additional major in human-computer interaction.

A Passion for How People Communicate

Madojemu initially wanted to be a Japanese-to-English translator and practice the theoretical study of linguistics by investigating the structure of languages. Now she wants to focus on people-centered work. She plans to fold together her passion for how people communicate and how communication influences how they live.

Madojemu bolstered these interests at CMU during three research projects that have shaped her career goals. She wants to apply these skills to improve how people interact with the technology that they use daily. 

“On the research side, I am interested in language-learning technology,” said Madojemu. “Specifically, how technology can help better teach the cultural aspects of language learning instead of just focusing on vocabulary and grammar.”

Diving into Research

Madojemu did research in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute, where she assisted Ph.D. candidate Adinawa Adjagbodjou on a study to evaluate the technologies used by immigrants to learn English. Madojemu was interested in evaluating the tools to identify the best approach to help learners improve their English skills.

In addition, Madojemu completed research with Uju Anya, an associate professor in the Department of Languages, Cultures & Applied Linguistics. Through the project, Madojemu observed students learning Japanese at the Barack Obama Academy of International Studies, part of Pittsburgh Public Schools.

Madojemu also participated in a research training course available to Dietrich College students. With the mentorship of with Dr. Bonnie Nozari, she studied the psychology behind how people make errors when typing based on what they hear and how their brains interpret the information.

Making a Meaningful Contribution

“Participating in research helped me refine my understanding of my academic and personal interests,” said Madojemu. “It has also been a validating experience to see my areas of interests, particularly with language learning technology, be viewed and considered seriously, while also having the ability to meaningfully contribute to that space.”

Currently, Madojemu looks forward to pursuing a career as an instructional designer within an educational platform. She hopes to apply her skills and knowledge to develop curriculum and training content.