PhD Language Requirement

If you have any comments, suggestions, or questions about the forum or any other pages on www.dutchgrammar.com, you can post them here.
Post Reply
User avatar
firefly315
Superlid
Posts: 304
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:16 pm
Country of residence: United States
Mother tongue: English (United States)
Second language: French
Third language: Dutch (Netherlands)
Gender: Female
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

PhD Language Requirement

Post by firefly315 » Thu Dec 15, 2011 12:34 am

Hoi allemaal,

I’m considering getting a PhD in English next year, and I was wondering what you think about what my intermediate Dutch skills would be enough to fulfill the requirement.

“Students must demonstrate an ability to read two foreign languages. They may demonstrate reading ability through successful performance on two translation examinations in which a short text must be translated adequately (with use of a dictionary) in two hours,” according the college’s website.

The other choice is to write a graduate level critical essay, which uses original texts. Although I’m fluent in French, I think that that type of paper would be a little bit too difficult for me, so I have to choose the first option.

Also, do you think that it matters which two languages I choose --- obviously, French and Dutch --- or, if I had to, my high school Spanish 1.

Finally, my husband (since October 2011!) is also considering getting his PhD in computer science or math, but he is just starting to speak French (by next year, he will be at least through “French 1. He could do also review his high school Spanish or I could get him through Dutch at a beginner level. What do you think about his chances --- after he gets through the beginning of both languages.

Groetjes,

Cathleen

User avatar
Quetzal
Retired moderator
Posts: 2173
Joined: Sat Nov 04, 2006 11:51 pm
Country of residence: Belgium
Mother tongue: Dutch (Flanders)
Location: Belgium

Re: PhD Language Requirement

Post by Quetzal » Thu Dec 15, 2011 7:34 pm

firefly315 wrote:Hoi allemaal,

I’m considering getting a PhD in English next year, and I was wondering what you think about what my intermediate Dutch skills would be enough to fulfill the requirement.

“Students must demonstrate an ability to read two foreign languages. They may demonstrate reading ability through successful performance on two translation examinations in which a short text must be translated adequately (with use of a dictionary) in two hours,” according the college’s website.

The other choice is to write a graduate level critical essay, which uses original texts. Although I’m fluent in French, I think that that type of paper would be a little bit too difficult for me, so I have to choose the first option.

Also, do you think that it matters which two languages I choose --- obviously, French and Dutch --- or, if I had to, my high school Spanish 1.

Finally, my husband (since October 2011!) is also considering getting his PhD in computer science or math, but he is just starting to speak French (by next year, he will be at least through “French 1. He could do also review his high school Spanish or I could get him through Dutch at a beginner level. What do you think about his chances --- after he gets through the beginning of both languages.

Groetjes,

Cathleen
I think the opinion of Americans more familiar with PhD requirements in general and your university of choice's requirements in particular would be more helpful than ours...

But based on what I know about PhDs at American universities, and on the description you give, I think your Dutch should be sufficient for that, yes. Not sure to what extent it matters which two languages you pick... but if you're as comfortable with Spanish as with Dutch, it's probably safer to pick the former.

Does a PhD in maths or computer science really require two foreign languages? That's very odd, it's not as if you'd ever need them... but anyway, not so sure a beginner's level in either of the three languages would be good enough. I guess it depends on how talented he is at translating - some people are better at grasping and translating (or just reading) a text than others, even while perhaps knowing a bit less of the source language.

User avatar
firefly315
Superlid
Posts: 304
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:16 pm
Country of residence: United States
Mother tongue: English (United States)
Second language: French
Third language: Dutch (Netherlands)
Gender: Female
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Re: PhD Language Requirement

Post by firefly315 » Fri Dec 16, 2011 12:16 am

Hoi Quetzal,

Thanks for giving me your opinion about this. I really appreciate it. In January after they get back from Christmas break, I’m going to ask the professors I know at one of the schools to which I am going to apply. I just started looking into getting a PhD this week.

Thanks for letting me know that you think that my Dutch is good enough for that test.

I just found a big PhD program description, and it says that I have about six choices, and Dutch isn’t on the list, so I think I’ll have to choose Spanish.

My Spanish, from 2000 during my senior year of high school, was only the first year, and they only taught us the present tense, but I could get 501 Spanish verbs and dig out my Spanish dictionary, as well as get a Spanish grammar book.

However, I am going to ask about being tested in Dutch and see if they will allow me to use instead.

If they tell me that I have to choose one of the languages on the list, then, I could take the exam. I saw on the document that I have 4 years to prepare for the second language exam I only have to take one right away, so I could take that in French.

The document also said that students may write:
“a graduate-level critical paper using original texts, or producing a formal translation of a literary text or essay previously unavailable in English.”

Maybe I could translate a literary text --- or a literary essay, at least, and it has to be something that has never been translated to English before. I think that they’d let me take the exam in French, if I really needed to because they offer it each semester.

My husband found out last night that he only has to learn one language, so maybe, if he’s a very advanced beginner in French and knows several tenses that will be fine. He just started learning French, but he really grasped it rapidly.

Groetjes,

Cathleen

Dave114
Lid
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 7:35 am
Country of residence: Canada
Mother tongue: English (Canada)
Gender: Male

Re: PhD Language Requirement

Post by Dave114 » Sat Jun 16, 2012 11:30 pm

Quetzal wrote: I think the opinion of Americans more familiar with PhD requirements in general and your university of choice's requirements in particular would be more helpful than ours...

... Does a PhD in maths or computer science really require two foreign languages? That's very odd, it's not as if you'd ever need them... but anyway, not so sure a beginner's level in either of the three languages would be good enough. I guess it depends on how talented he is at translating - some people are better at grasping and translating (or just reading) a text than others, even while perhaps knowing a bit less of the source language.
As someone trying to finish a Ph.D. in computer science, I can't say that I ever stumbled across a language requirement in any North American university for a degree of this sort. I think that language requirements are more of a humanities and maybe social sciences thing as far as doctoral degrees concerned.

User avatar
firefly315
Superlid
Posts: 304
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2006 9:16 pm
Country of residence: United States
Mother tongue: English (United States)
Second language: French
Third language: Dutch (Netherlands)
Gender: Female
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Re: PhD Language Requirement

Post by firefly315 » Thu Jun 21, 2012 7:10 am

Dave114 wrote:
Quetzal wrote: I think the opinion of Americans more familiar with PhD requirements in general and your university of choice's requirements in particular would be more helpful than ours...

... Does a PhD in maths or computer science really require two foreign languages? That's very odd, it's not as if you'd ever need them... but anyway, not so sure a beginner's level in either of the three languages would be good enough. I guess it depends on how talented he is at translating - some people are better at grasping and translating (or just reading) a text than others, even while perhaps knowing a bit less of the source language.
As someone trying to finish a Ph.D. in computer science, I can't say that I ever stumbled across a language requirement in any North American university for a degree of this sort. I think that language requirements are more of a humanities and maybe social sciences thing as far as doctoral degrees concerned.
Hi Dave,

Thanks a lot for letting me know. That really helped out.

Thanks again,

Cathleen

Post Reply