Questions tagged [language]

Questions concerning the language (e.g., English, French, German, Chinese) of academic publications, presentations, transcripts, or other documents. For questions on style, use 'writing-style' instead.

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89
votes
13answers
30k views

A student keeps using a native language while asking questions in the class when the course is taught in English

I am assisting a statistics course in a university, and my main job in the course is conducting problem solving sessions. The course is taught in English, and students interact with me in English. ...
83
votes
11answers
36k views

Can I, as a reviewer, tell authors to get a native English speaker to proofread their paper?

I am reviewing a paper for possible publication in a respected journal. The English in the paper is very poor. The authors are clearly not native English speakers. I want to write something to the ...
79
votes
12answers
18k views

Is it acceptable to use non-English references in a computer science paper?

I am currently reviewing an interdisciplinary computer science paper which is heavily based on previous works in logistics and process engineering that have been unfortunately published only in German ...
74
votes
3answers
12k views

How should I handle poor English in reviewing an article that claims to be proofread by two native English speakers?

I was asked to review an article written by non-native English speakers. I had never seen this before, but the manuscript includes a link to a certificate from a website called Textcheck that says: ...
65
votes
18answers
11k views

As an international instructor, should I openly talk about my accent?

I'm an international, teaching at an American university, and I have an accent, which can be strong at times. I'm working hard at it, have always been, but still, the accent is there. This has never ...
63
votes
8answers
15k views

Why are there so many papers written in bad English?

I am pretty sure that anyone who has spent some time reading academic papers have come across quite a few "lemons" among them, with bad grammar, strange word choices and incoherent sentences. Such ...
61
votes
2answers
18k views

In what tense (present/past) should papers be written?

That is, should it be present tense or past tense? Should there be a difference between the abstract, main body and the conclusion? Does the field of publication have any impact?
60
votes
7answers
7k views

There is a language/cultural barrier between me and my supervisor, what can I do to improve this situation?

I am a PhD candidate at a university in Germany. My supervisor, along with all of my colleagues, are German. I am a native English speaker, hired for a position that does not require German. However, ...
55
votes
6answers
18k views

How should I interpret “English is poor” review when I used a language check service before submission?

Recently I submitted a manuscript to an international journal. It was accepted with a minor revision, but I am worried about the reviewers’ comments. The first reviewer commented that the paper is ...
49
votes
10answers
12k views

Should non-native speakers get extra time to compose exam answers?

Today I met with a student who had plagiarized answers on an exam from online sources. She explained to me with apparent honesty that she had spent too long answering the first two questions and then ...
47
votes
6answers
13k views

Is it acceptable to cite people without putting the appropriate diacritics in their names?

I've begun preparing my thesis and several key papers in my field are written by people with foreign accents in their names. While I have found a way to include this in my thesis with BibTeX. However ...
45
votes
5answers
3k views

Writing papers in language X and translating to English vs. writing papers in English to begin with?

I'm working with a group in China, and we were discussing the following question, which I would like to ask here too: Question: Is it better to write a paper in Chinese, then translate it into ...
44
votes
6answers
8k views

Is it appropriate to cite a paper in a language I don't understand?

Some months back I got into a situation where a paper with information that I considered important to prove a point was in a language I cannot understand. Since it was important but not crucial, I ...
42
votes
4answers
3k views

How to find ways to proofread English in papers

As a non-native speaker of English, it can often be hard to spot some of the errors that a native speaker would find. For a long time, I've been thinking about getting a native speaker to help me with ...
40
votes
11answers
10k views

How can I politely explain to my students that the texts in my course are all in English and it is their duty to read it nonetheless?

Eventually I grew tired of having to explain over and over why all my class material is in English. It's a mandatory course in Art History. I want to put some warning in my syllabus to minimize any ...
39
votes
8answers
5k views

How to write papers efficiently when English isn't my first language?

I am a PhD student from China. I can read papers relatively fast and get the main point. The problem is that I cannot write efficiently. I don't know how to express myself or I forget the appropriate ...
37
votes
3answers
3k views

Dealing with listening/talking to researchers with difficult accents

Often, when speaking English in research, you can find a great variety of (mostly, non-native) accents. Since I started moving in academic circles and a more international environment, I slowly ...
36
votes
6answers
10k views

How can I provide proof that my paper has been proofread by a native speaker?

I have submitted my manuscript to a journal. After several weeks the editor sent me the comments of two reviewers. The editor said that "the authors should provide proof that the paper has been ...
36
votes
6answers
5k views

Special (non-english) character in name. What to do as author? Internationalize or not?

In German, as well as in other languages, people have Non-English characters in their names. e.g. ß, the umlauts etc.. I frequently face problems when flying, opening bank accounts, etc., ...
35
votes
6answers
7k views

What to do when no one speaks English around you?

Often when I attend conferences and meetings, there are some social activities sometimes specifically for graduate students to mix with each other and get to know other students and build possible ...
35
votes
7answers
1k views

Resources on how to overcome writer's block, especially for non-native English speakers?

One of the issues we have at my English-language institute is the problem of getting our doctoral students to write papers in English. For some, writing isn't a big challenge. For others, however, the ...
35
votes
7answers
11k views

A lecturer is hard to understand, what to do?

I have a lecturer at university that I find very hard to understand. My lectures are taught in English, but my lecturer is of East Asian origin, and English is not his first language. I find the ...
33
votes
10answers
10k views

Why do universities require international students to show language proficiency?

For example, Let's say an American person wants to attend a French university F. F explicitly states that French is the main language of instruction. Why would they require the student to take a ...
33
votes
3answers
6k views

Is it normal that journals strongly suggest a professional English editing service?

It is quite common for me to receive emails from the editors of a journal asking me, before or after the referees have given their approval, to review and improve my English. Then, the editor suggests ...
31
votes
7answers
8k views

Should I simplify my writing in a foreign country?

As a native English speaker studying in the Netherlands, I often find myself writing (not published) English papers for a Dutch audience, and I worry I'm alienating my superiors with my writing. I ...
29
votes
1answer
2k views

Should diacritics be kept when citing a paper written in an abundant diacritics Latin-based script language?

Diacritics, or tone marks (as what they're called in my language), are symbols added to letters to change their sound. For example, diacritics for the letter a in my language can be ă, â, à, á, ả, ã, ...
28
votes
4answers
5k views

Level of detail when reviewing the language of a low quality paper

I am currently reviewing a computer science conference paper. I like to give constructive feedback both related to the content as well as for language issues, such as typos or grammatical mistakes. ...
28
votes
1answer
8k views

How do universities verify your native language?

Many universities require that your native language be English or you will have to submit proof of language proficiency. Usually if you lie and say English is your native language while all other ...
27
votes
6answers
2k views

How should I deal with a professor whose weak language proficiency is disturbing our paper's writing quality?

I am a first year PhD Student, writing a conference paper with an Italian Professor, very senior and renowned in our field. Every commit he makes to the SVN is riddled with spelling and grammar errors....
26
votes
7answers
4k views

Should I write my master's thesis in English, as a non-native speaker?

I'm currently enrolled in a Master's degree Program in Statistics in Italy. I just started working on my thesis and my advisor asked me if I wanted to write it in Italian or in English. Apparently, ...
26
votes
7answers
2k views

Do PhD courses in engineering fields in European non-English speaking countries require knowledge of the native language?

Can a Ph.D. student who only knows how to speak English study in a European non-English speaking country (e.g., Austria, Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, etc.) without any problems? Does applying to ...
26
votes
3answers
1k views

Is it reasonable to evaluate spelling/grammar in reports for students diagnosed with dyslexia?

Students diagnosed with dyslexia qualify for accommodations at most universities. As with other special needs students, they're entitled extra time for work, exams, access or licenses to spell ...
26
votes
2answers
9k views

How should references in non-Latin script language be treated in English paper?

Let's say I want to cite a Russian text in my own paper which is written in English. Should I: reference it as is, in the original Cyrillic alphabet, although the readers won't be able even to ...
25
votes
6answers
3k views

How to improve my English from Academic papers?

I'm not a native speaker. However, I'm doing my PhD in an English country and I read Academic papers which are in English. How can I improve my English from those papers? Any ideas? Although sometimes ...
24
votes
5answers
11k views

Is it legal for me to write my thesis in my native English and have it translated to German at the end?

I am currently doing my master’s in German and need to start writing my thesis. Although I am already comfortable speaking the language, writing (especially academic papers) is not something I feel ...
24
votes
7answers
2k views

Are there some fields where having skills in a language other than English is necessary to perform research at an international level?

When I went to college, an old-schooled teacher of mine insisted that, because I was interested in chemistry, I needed to work on my German as it was the lingua franca of that trade. It turns out, ...
24
votes
10answers
5k views

Is it possible to study in China without knowing Chinese?

Is it possible to enroll into and complete a graduate school in China while having only English language skills, without speaking Chinese at all? In particular, I am interested in (theoretical) ...
23
votes
6answers
4k views

Teaching a very small class when the students have very uneven proficiency levels

How should a teacher and student cope with a situation like this. I've been studying spanish for about a year and enrolled in a successive course. However, the course starts really early and there is ...
22
votes
2answers
2k views

How should the session chair introduce presentation titles which are ungrammatical?

As a session chair recently, I was to introduce a talk where the title of the talk was ungrammatical (in both the abstract and talk slides), likely due to the presenter not being a native English ...
21
votes
5answers
3k views

Is it a good idea for a nonnative English speaker to have native speakers help make the English in statement of purpose perfect?

I am applying to doctoral programs in the US. Since I am not an English native speaker, I am wondering if it is okay to have native speakers help make my English perfect in my statement of purpose? ...
21
votes
10answers
5k views

Is it ever appropriate to correct a non-native teacher's English?

Four of my Japanese teachers are, as you would expect, Japanese, and they all speak English fluently. But now and then, there will of course be slip ups: I often see small grammatical errors in one ...
20
votes
10answers
4k views

How to ignore a presenter's bad english?

I recently attended an average international conference in Computer Science. This was the first time I actually attended an international conference. The level of English that I heard during the ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

Would it be ethical to hire a proofreader for theses and academic articles?

Proofreading documents for orthography is a pain. I consider that I am decent at writing in my native language (on the grammar and orthography side), but proofreading for typos and whatnots is a time-...
20
votes
3answers
4k views

Can I use contractions in my thesis?

I am writing my thesis (in Computer Science, if that's relevant) and I am thinking about the style, especially about using contractions. I realize that thesis is a formal text and contractions like “...
19
votes
6answers
6k views

Professor/supervisor switches from writing emails in his native and local language to English - how to react?

A professor of mine, who's native language is German and who is teaching a class in English in a German speaking country, suddenly answered an e-mail which I wrote in German (I'm a native German ...
19
votes
5answers
4k views

What are good reasons to write my thesis in English?

I'm studying in Germany. German and English are not my native tongue, but I prefer to write my thesis in English for the following reasons: My English is better than my German (not a good reason). My ...
19
votes
4answers
765 views

How do you thematically include accidental findings (“serendipity”) in a dissertation or paper?

I'm asking for approaches to include interesting, but not perfectly fitting results in a dissertation or a paper. During my PhD project I have made an accidental discovery, which is what I believe ...
19
votes
1answer
3k views

What tense should paper titles use?

I have recently noticed that the tense of paper titles can be somewhat odd. This previous question, In what tense (present/past) should papers be written?, has some great information but it doesn't ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there such a thing called native speaker bias when publishing?

This has been a subject that has occupied my thoughts for the past years but haven't really managed to formulate it completely for myself. I have this feeling (and I can't say it's more than a feeling ...
18
votes
12answers
14k views

Why do major international universities still have courses in languages other than English?

As an example ETH Zurich, which is arguably one of the best universities in Europe, still educates Bachelor's students in German: Please note: the Bachelor’s degree programmes begin in German. In ...