No Pardon For Poor English in Science

Kiyokazu Agata decided to stay in Japan for his postdoctoral fellowship, and that decision haunts him today. Not because he hasn't been able to do great science in Japan--he's now a group director of evolutionary regeneration at the prestigious Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe. But his decision to forgo study overseas means that he never got a chance to excel in English. "English is essential for scientists. Going abroad is the best way to learn it," Agata says. "In my case, I missed t

Sam Jaffe
Mar 9, 2003

Kiyokazu Agata decided to stay in Japan for his postdoctoral fellowship, and that decision haunts him today. Not because he hasn't been able to do great science in Japan--he's now a group director of evolutionary regeneration at the prestigious Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe. But his decision to forgo study overseas means that he never got a chance to excel in English. "English is essential for scientists. Going abroad is the best way to learn it," Agata says. "In my case, I missed the chance to study in foreign countries. It's my regret."

The ironic part is that Agata can speak and write English. He has studied the language since grammar school, but that's not good enough anymore. His lack of fluency keeps him from getting invitations to speak or present papers at international functions. It also makes it difficult to do collaborative projects with American or European colleagues....

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