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Did you write your SoP in your native language and then translated?

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Not a good idea. It would be best to write your SOP in the language you intend to submit it, unless you are an experienced translator. If you're asking, my guess is that you aren't skilled in translation. So, write your SOP in whatever language it needs to be submitted in (presumably English) and then get lots of eyes on it to ensure that your writing is clearly conveying what you want it to.

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I also do not think this is a good idea. When I was taking French classes, I always found that my essays in French were always better when I did not translate but instead formed the initial draft in French.

However, it might help to brainstorm in your native language. But when you start constructing sentences, it should be in the language you intend to use for the final piece. I strongly second rising_star's suggestion to get a lot of other people to read your SOP if you are concerned about your word choice!

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  • 2 months later...

No. No. No. 

I had a conversation about this with my advisor. My issue was that sometimes I need to say things/think things in my native language in order to put my thoughts in order. My advisor urged not to do this. He claimed that by doing this, I would never fully learn to write/think in English and thus would find academia more and more difficult. Specifically, he encouraged me to bear the dissertation in mind: What would I do with 300 pages? 

It is a difficult exercise, but it is ALWAYS better to try to say things in English. Further, you can even just "hear" if it sounds good or not. When I am stuck with English (that is, when I have the idea in my language and have not a clue how to say in English), I literally say it out loud. It helps me a lot. 

The brainstorming that TakeruK mentioned I would not do it in my native language. However, it is true that you are at the beginning of the process so I'd suppose it will be ok ;). I third the suggestion of asking as many people as you can to read your SOP. I had a friend in grad school already who basically destroyed my first three drafts that forced me to write a forth acceptable SOP. 

As a reminder

  • Avoid very long sentences (my language tends to make loooooooong complicated sentences. English is simpler).
  • Avoid passive voice (although this depends a little on your field :D )

[Needless to say, these were/sometimes are my most common mistakes :P)

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I'd say I have a mixed approach. I write the majority of my letters in English, but whenever there is some specific emotion that I wish to convey I try to write it down in my native language first. Usually becase most of the time I have to pinpoint what kind of emotion it is exactly, and I am simply better at that in my native language. I like to think I know English syntax well enough to avoid most mistakes :D

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