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And Then There's the Language Problem... (SSAWRN)
23 April 2009
Some young scientists in Africa, especially residents of former British colonies, benefit from their legacy of English, the de facto language of science. There is no such benefit here in Mozambique, where would-be scientists struggle to learn not only their discipline but a new tongue that few people outside the tourist industry ever hear in this poor country. Even though I speak some Portuguese, communicating with graduate students Govate Egideo and Agostinho Vilanculos was a strain on us all, and they each described the frustrations of using their scant English to write proposals and reports and to communicate with English-speaking advisers. Govate has sought out a tutor at a foreign consulate in Maputo, but he is not even sure whether the consulate (or the tutor) is British or American.
Agostinho worries that the language barrier will limit his career, despite his determination and encouragement from mentors.