The sooner everybody understands this the better. And this “everybody” does not include only researchers but also the university administration.   A couple of examples (happened to me in the same week!):

  • A researcher that visited us asked me to rewrite the letter of certificate I wrote for his stay. The original was in English but the bureaucrats at his university only accept documents written in Spanish.
  • A colleague asked me to give a seminar in his PhD course. I suggested sending one of my team members instead. In the end the seminar is postponed since the English level of the PhD Students may not be good enough to follow a seminar in English.

There’s no way a university/department can excel in research if this attitude doesn’t change. The PhD is not the time to learn English (or is the supervisor supposed to write the papers for you in the meantime?) and my job should not include being the translator between foreign researchers and the local administration (another typical example). If I waste my time on this I cannot spend it trying to do high quality research.

We’d all loved that our language would be the one chosen to publish research results at the international level but unfortunately this is not the case for many of us. If you want to do research you need to master what we call “international English”. This is must. Period.

Native English Speakers: you have no idea of how fortunate you are! With the same effort, you can produce more and better texts! (it would be nice if the next time you review a paper from a non-native speaker you are not so picky with the grammar and spelling of the paper, in my definition of “International English” is not considered a big mistake to mix American and British English; thanks for pointing it out but don’t punish me for this!)