I'll be defending my Ph.D. this October. I submitted my dissertation in English and prepared an English presentation, but my supervisor along with the jury members surprised me by saying the defense speech cannot be in English and must be in French (“since we are from a country that has the second language is French”). Actually, they don’t mind an English report. In fact, they are very proud of the report.

So my question is, what would be suitable in this situation, keep the presentation in English and talk in French, or, I will change the presentation to French since I talk in French?

  • 2
    you should consult your department graduate adviser. There are usually rules involved in presentations, i suspect especially in multi-language environments Jul 29 '18 at 2:51
  • 1
    @aaaaaa Not necessarily. In many places, presentations aren't subject to strict rules.
    – Massimo Ortolano
    Jul 29 '18 at 7:36
  • @MassimoOrtolano It certainly sounds like there are strict rules in this case, and in particular strict rules that the OP was not aware of. Jul 29 '18 at 22:42
  • @StellaBiderman My impression from the description is that the board doesn't want to listen to a presentation in English and made up an excuse.
    – Massimo Ortolano
    Jul 30 '18 at 1:36

I would put the presentation into French, for two basic reasons:

  • just to make sure that when you glance at the screen any word triggers a train of thought in French

  • the audience also has the French ppt to look at matching what they hear from you.

I understand that the thesis is in English, but they won't necessarily open that until after depending on the questions - which they have probably already prepared...

Also, anytime I have to listen to one language and read a second (and I have a DUT to go with my BEng Hons) I always change to comparing the errors in expression / translation and loose the real message.

So, go with French ppt & language and BEST OF LUCK - you will be fine.

Autrement dit : Bonne chance Chef !!

  • +1: Simultaneous processing in multiple languages can be more difficult, especially people who only have one native language. Doing the sides in English seems like it has the opportunity to throw the OP or an examiner for no benefit. Jul 29 '18 at 23:57

What would be suitable in this situation would be to do what your advisor and jury members have told you to do.

If everyone in your committee speaks French, I see little point in having the presentation written in English and speaking in French. You have two months to translate your slides, compared to the work necessary to get the PhD it's trivial...

If however some people in your jury do not speak French, then it's appropriate to write in English on the slides and speak in French (I have done so myself), but ask your advisor first.

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