My university is in an English-speaking country, hence most of people use English for communication. However, it is possible to have a supervisor and her student that are from the same country, which is not an English-speaking country.

When that happens, is it acceptable if they use their native language in discussion regarding the PhD research while at school?

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    Let's put it the other way round: what makes you think that it would not be acceptable? (Assuming, indeed, that there are no other people in the room who don't understand the other language). Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 17:56
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    In my university (where most of people are from very different countries), it happens that a professor from country X have a PhD student from the same country. In places like seminars etc where there should be an interaction with other people, they speak in English with each other. It is a also an element of respect to others otherwise it can be considered as an effort to exclude other people from interacting or understanding or even saying something that should not be said in a public place. Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 18:04
  • I might recommend that, if the literature in the field is primarily in English, that it would probably be better to discuss the research in English, and day-to-day matters in whatever language is more comfortable. As an English-speaking post-doc the Netherlands, all the science (by everyone) was done in English, the coffee break was done in Dutch.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 18:10
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    In language departments, it's super common, but that's probably low-hanging fruit for this question :-) Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 18:26
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    I see no reason why it would be unacceptable (as long as it doesn't exclude others). I see it all the time (particularly in Hebrew). However, if it hinders the student learning how to discuss their research in English, that is bad for them in the long term.
    – Thomas
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 19:42

1 Answer 1


Yes. I see this all the time in my school. Although some professors avoid doing so. I believe it can loosen some faculty/student boundaries. Also, it is advisable to use English language when accompanied by other students/faculty who can not speak that native language.

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