Working in foreign languages


Hey guys,

I was just wondering if any other PhD student would be working in languages that they are neither native nor fluent in?

As part of my research, I will be working in a number of languages, most of which I don't fully understand. Thankfully, given that I am mostly working with numbers, the ability to understand the language is less relevant than my ability to comprehend numbers, charts, and other statistical data.

I was just wondering if anyone else was in a situation where they are working with or in languages they are not fluent in, how they found it, any resources they used to aide their work, that sort of thing.


Hi, I was fairly fluent in the ones I used but have a few suggestions based on my experience:
1) Try to find online dictionaries with a discussion forum that are used by translators - this for German is a great example - for technical phrases these sorts of resources are a lifesaver when you need a precise rather than a rough translation!
2) Ask friends if they know any native speakers of each language and get their contact details. You might need something translated at some point and even if it's paid work, I've found the rates an acquaintance would charge are so much cheaper than an agency.
3) Google translate is not reliable for any of the languages I speak well enough to know - worth it for a quick overview of a text but use with extreme caution.


Thank you very much for this bewildered. I thought I had thanked you earlier, but just noticed no response. I apologise for that oversight.

The resources do look useful, so thank you :)


I am working in English all the time, while it is not my native language. I doesn't bother me a lot, as my English is good enough to write my manuscripts.

However, I am definitely not as comfortable as in my own language and writing takes more time than usual. Also, I submitted a manuscript to an international journal and got reviewer comments back on my grammar (minor comments).

That would never happen to me in my native languange, so I felt a bit ashamed (I mean; What would that reviewer think of me?), but luckily they are not so harsh on you on that, as they know many authors are from non-English countries. They just provide you the suggestions for corrections and it is all well. Thus, I accept those little flaws in my writing and correct them, as it is not my language and there is nothing I can change on that.


like sarahsarahsarah i had sometimes trouble with grammar and i always needed to plan in some extra time to check that my english is correct.
i found this useful:

Avatar for pf329

Presumably there's a langauages and/or linguistics department at your university? Try asking them if you get completely stuck.


Thank you all for your responses. While my academic English is fine - English being my native language - your phrasebank link is most welcome, so thank you. Pf329 - good idea. I didn't even consider this.


I am working in a language that is not my first language and I make mistakes (some of them really cringeworthy on my audio files!) I am writing about my experience of using different languages in a sort of "self-reflection" section in the conclusion. I think you should probably write somewhere about the challenges posed by the language and how you overcame them.