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PhD applications: How does one list languages?


Averroes MD
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Just curious: in your PhD application, how do you list your languages? Is there a scale of some sort that you use? And what is the proper way to list it on your CV?

Also, would you include information about what language courses you are taking or intending to take in the fall and spring semester the year before you start the PhD (which you won't yet have a grade back)?

Thanks!

Edited by Averroes MD
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I mentioned it in the SOP. Basically said my fluency in Portuguese would aid my doctoral research. Tie languages in as a tool for your research. On the CV, I would list the language and your speaking and reading proficiency level. So in my case I wrote "Portuguese - advanced (conversationalist) speaking, reading with dictionary"

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Like ashiepoo, I mentioned it in my SOP. I discussed my previous language training, being sure to mention language immersion programs, etc. Part of my CV also has a separate "Japanese Language Education" section under my Post-Secondary Education, as I have been part of several immersion programs in my time. I listed languages as its own section near the end of my CV, with Fluency added to my main language, and "Advanced Reading skills" or "Fluent Reading skills" next to my secondary ancient languages. 

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Oh one more question: let's say you are taking language classes between the time of applying and starting the PhD, including say Middlebury immersion program the summer before the PhD. Any way to list this or you can't really list it since it's theoretically in the future? 

Edited by Averroes MD
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That's something you could mention in the SOP, though. "In an effort to gain the tools necessary for my proposed research, I am participating in [insert language immersion program] in summer of 2017, blah blah, etc..." I wouldn't include it unless you're completely committed already (as in, already enrolled and ready to start in the summer).

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Great, thanks for the input!

I still have one more question on this, so sorry -- But, is there any need to take a language placement test for a primary language in which you've taken multiple advanced level classes in? Is it strongly suggested to take such a test before applying for the PhD, or no big deal? 

A separate question: do PhD programs make PhD students take a language placement exam in a primary language where you've already shown strong ability in through coursework? I'm assuming this varies from program to program?

Edited by Averroes MD
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I think the strength of your languages will be best shown in your writing sample, where you'll be assessing sources in the languages with which you claim competency. I think very few programs will look at the languages on your CV and on that determination say you're qualified. They'll look at the transcript, maybe your letter writers if that's relevant, and take it into consideration. 

RE: Exams. Most programs will have their own separate language competency exams, after which they will add a lil certificate in your file that says "don't worry he's cool with [language]." if you're fluent/have classes at an equivalent level program you can point to and say "they certified me already" you can always point to that and see if they'll waive the requirement. Most likely, even if you have to re-do the placement tests, it's nothing that hard: worse comes to worst, you lose a couple hours in your morning. 

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At all the programs I applied, they require their own language certification. This is even required for students like me who've spoken the language since childhood. Some advisers might waive the exam (there's one in my program who does when he has international students using the language of their country of birth in their research), but you should expect to have to take it unless you're (and even despite being) a native speaker.

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in CV, indicating level and type of proficiency, if that is unclear.

e.g.:

  • English, French: fluent (written, oral, reading)
  • German: working proficiency

I also included certificates which are meaningful in my field (e.g. "passed [language exam at your university]").

I did not include beginner level for languages which I studied for a year or a long time ago, and which were not too relevant to my field. I did include languages which are not relevant but in which I am proficient or advanced.

in SoP, indicating how this would be relevant to my work and stating projected improvements I plan to make (but not dwelling too long on all this).

in application, if they have a specific field for that req.

 

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