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Offline Astrokel

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Importance of English
« on: July 23, 2009, 09:34:32 AM »
Can i ask how important is English to Chemistry? How would you rate on a scale of 1(not important)-10(very important)? I believe it is unfair to reject someone in pursue of interest in chemistry just based on his grade in English.
No matters what results are waiting for us, it's nothing but the DESTINY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline Dan

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2009, 10:56:20 AM »
If you're in an English speaking country and working with English speaking chemists it's important. As a native speaker I can't really grade it from 1 to 10, but I've worked with alot of non-native-English-speakers - from fluent speakers to the less accomplished, where a bit of mime is sometimes involved. It doesn't really matter how good the English is, as long as communication is possible. The dangerous thing is when accidents happen because people do not understand safety procedures or what is being asked of them due to a language barrier, which I know has led to one serious explosion in the building I work in. I think it is entirely fair to reject someone if they cannot speak the working language of the institution - but total fluency is not required. I certainly wouldn't think it was unfair if I applied for a post doc in France and got rejected on account of my horrible, horrible French.
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Offline DrCMS

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2009, 11:49:08 AM »
English is and will continue to be the language of business and science.  If you can not speak and read/write english you will struggle in this world.  That make life easy for me as an English man but it is a truth none the less.

Offline Astrokel

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2009, 11:55:51 AM »
Let's say there are two students. One student scored an A in chemistry but barely passed English while the other got B or C in chemistry and a better than average grade in English. I presume most of you will choose the latter for a science chemistry degree, eh?
No matters what results are waiting for us, it's nothing but the DESTINY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline nj_bartel

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2009, 06:18:11 PM »
Effective communication is a necessity.  An english class is a dumb measure of being able to use the language (in my opinion).  If you can comprehend (easily and consistently) what you are being told, and if you can explicitly communicate what you desire to convey, then I wouldn't see there being an issue.  I think the only way to discover this information is to hold an interview with the person.

However, yes, if you are unable to do the above, I think it should preclude employment.

That said, there are several asians and europeans that work as either post-docs or grad students at my university, and communicating with them in english isn't always the easiest.  However, in my lab I mostly work with germans, and my PI speaks fluent german, so there is another method of communication for them.  I'm not sure if this is the case in the other labs.

If you're talking about yourself, you seem to have a near mastery of the language, at least on paper.  Is a thick accent what you're concerned about?

Offline 408

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2009, 09:24:22 PM »
You mean English as a second language?  Or the one with Shakespeare?
The former is essential, the latter as long as you pass.

I would only let people in if they could speak the language, how well they regurgitate the views of a hippie english prof about the symbolism of a tree in a poem I could not care less about.

I had a C in first year undergraduate english.  No issues getting into grad school.

Offline Astrokel

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2009, 10:07:45 PM »
I am the first student. I have no issue with communicating and writing in English, perhaps more grammatical errors and less fascinating jargon or words. I scored reasonably well in Physics and Mathematics and this should be essential for me to enter Chemistry course. I know that i am not alone because a parent had wrote in to newspaper talking about how her kid lose seat in university(science faculty) to their friends whom scored lousier in science but better in english. I just want to know why they look at grade in English first before chemistry then other subjects? Are they afraid that i can't comprehend the text or doubt my ability to write a science thesis without giving me a chance to try? I admit i wrote out-of-topic in my A level English papers. However, this has little influence on how well my 'knowledge' in English is going to hinder a chemistry degree. The A level topic was on History and i know most people will say i should have do fine as long as i am good in English - the topics does not matters.

I have appealed and got rejected again. I still have 1.5 year before compulsory military life ends so i will just keep trying.
No matters what results are waiting for us, it's nothing but the DESTINY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline JGK

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2009, 11:31:30 AM »
Astrokel,

I agree it seems unfair, I grew up in England and English is my first (only) language yet I failed my O-Level English exams four times (passed on try 5, just before my A-levels). All through my career I've worked on improving my written work and am never far away from my dictionary/grammar textbook.

I think the emphasis on the English competency is that as part of university courses you will probably be expected to discuss/argue points of view as well as give presentations write essays/theses all of which (I assume) must be in English. Consequently, some level of competence is essential.

My personal experience of this was not at university but in the work environment. I worked in an area covered by GLP and regulated by FDA/OECD guidelines where all data recording etc. had to be in English. For many of the staff, English as their second/third language and as a result those of us who were native speakers acted as an extra level of "policing" to maintain record quality, provide additional training etc.
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Offline Astrokel

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2009, 01:05:27 PM »
I agree with you but i believe there are many better solutions. They could provide additional English lesson for those who did not score better than expection. I believe none will mind even they have to spend extra time or even pay for it. Better solution yet it is not happening? It makes sense to me to recruit those interested and scored well in sciences and to help them improve english than to take in those scored an average in the subject. Overall, it is the core subject that matters and it is not like their English is perfect, just one or two grades higher than passing grade. As for now, I am at lost and re-appealing is not going to help much. My friend suggested that i should get my chemistry teachers to write a reference letter. I still have their contacts and i know they will definitely help me out as they mentioned to me i was their favourite chemistry student. But it will be last resort as i will never want them to know my situation now, rather embarassing and disappointing for me. I hope you do not feel that i am whinging way too much because it just does not feel right for me.  :(
No matters what results are waiting for us, it's nothing but the DESTINY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline DrCMS

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #9 on: July 24, 2009, 02:29:28 PM »
Life is not fair.

As i said English is the default language of business and science. 

You can't change that just because it's not fair, you just have to live with it.

Offline Astrokel

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2009, 07:24:36 AM »
Ok understood, time for me to step into the real world.
No matters what results are waiting for us, it's nothing but the DESTINY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline DrCMS

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2009, 04:56:42 PM »
As far as I can see your English is fine.  Certainly your written English is better than too many of my fellow countrymen.  What is your spoken English like?  If it's good try phoning the university you want to go to and speak English to them.

Offline Astrokel

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2009, 11:15:19 PM »
I have no problem in communicating as i speak English all the time except when i am at home. Honestly, I am not exactly fluent in English but i am certain i can convey my messages and thoughts well in coversations. The problem is that they did not specific the reason for me not being able to enter into Faculty of Science. I found out it was possibly due to my General Paper because a friend of mine got in and he had exactly same grades as me except two grades higher in GP and i scored better in Chemistry. He got in Physics not Chemistry though despite my Physics grade was same as his. My aunt is a lecturer in Physics department told me at that time my result was a pretty sure-in case as they had discussed about it. She told me they only discuss about the core subject grades to enter the course so i am quite puzzled when i did not get in. Then i read on newspaper on the complains by one of the parent for looking at GP first despite being only 10% of university entry while one core subject weights 20%. I don't know if calling them up helps because i am very certain they wouldn't admit it was due to my English and moreover GP was a written paper.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2009, 11:42:14 PM by Astrokel »
No matters what results are waiting for us, it's nothing but the DESTINY!!!!!!!!!!!!

Offline nj_bartel

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #13 on: July 27, 2009, 06:31:55 PM »
Did they interview?

Offline billnotgatez

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Re: Importance of English
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2009, 06:16:06 PM »
When I was an undergraduate there were several courses taught by professors who communicated badly in English, but were retained because of there credentials in there field. That was considered fair as well. So in that case we have vice versa. I pitied the poor undergraduate that had to endure that situation.

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