Doktorantide teadustöö keele valikutest


  • Eve-Liis Roosmaa
  • Triin Roosalu
  • Peep Nemvalts



On language choices among
Estonian doctoral students
Eve-Liis Roosmaa, Triin Roosalu, Peep Nemvalts
Tallinn University
To explain language choices in Estonian doctoral theses we conducted
a survey on the views of doctoral students regarding the usage of
Estonian language in research and how this relates to their attitudes
towards the usage of English language. We rely on the concept
of intercultural strategies, introduced by John Berry (1997) as an
extension of his earlier concept of acculturation strategies. In our
study we consider Estonian doctoral students as members of small
Estonian language research community embedded in large albeit diverse
English language academic culture. We also assume that integration
with academic world presumes in addition to understanding
and knowledge building in English, wish to understand and express
scientific thoughts in Estonian too. It appears that doing research
in Estonian poses difficulties because doctoral students, especially
those in natural sciences as compared to social sciences, cannot find
right terms or concepts. However, doctoral students feel that scientific
writing is easier, more logical and nuanced in mother tongue.
Still, more than third of all respondents admit having problems with
sentence construction. We find that doctoral students who have practiced
different ways of doing science in Estonian (reading, writing,
attending conferences), tend to assess their languages skills better.
These are more likely social sciences doctoral students, as their research
topics more often relate to studying Estonian specificity and
thus overall scientific communication in Estonian is more intense
in this field. Hence we find that doctoral students need systematic
support in developing academic language in both Estonian and a foreign
(often English) language.


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