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I've recently reviewed a resume for a very promising student who is not a native English speaker (I believe his native language is Bengali).

His academic record has some gaps, too - he could use a couple of solid data-structure and algorithms type courses.

Where would you advise this student to look, in order to find programming/training resources that are likely to be good quality, and in his native tongue? He is far from fluent, and has indicated that the language barrier is too high for him to try a course that's taught in English.

Is it even possible for him to both study English and fill in the gaps in his training at the same time, or would you advise that he just do the two serially?

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Is it even possible for him to both study English and fill in the gaps in his training at the same time, or would you advise that he just do the two serially?

Not only possible, but based on my experience I strongly recommend to do that concurrently. I wasted 10+ years at courses and such (not quite wasted but pretty close) until I was forced to dig through programming manuals - which magically made it all to me.

  • Another advice I'd pass to this guy - if he has some kind of hobby or I dunno some non-programming topic he's interested in (travel? books? kids? religion? whatever) - by all means find some English-speaking resources / forums / clubs / whatever to participate. To me, this made a tremendous boost in studying the language
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At least in my experience, I dislike training materials or textbooks written in my native language. Often it's bad translation, and most English words seems to be common usage in the field (ie. I've always says linker even when talking in Portuguese, never montador which is a term most people never heard actually and it's only used in old textbooks).

A few universities offer intensive language studies courses and, in my experience, if you find yourself immersed in other culture you pick up the language fairly quickly.

Is he going to be "graded" (or measured in any way) by his academic performance in the "gap filling" courses? If yes, then do it serially. It would be unfair to him, since for part of the course his capabilities to understand are going to be impaired due to the language barrier. If not, do it simultaneously. Being immersed is the best way to learn a language. (I never took a formal course in English and while I know my English is not that good, most native speakers seems to be able to understand what I'm saying. And in the end, that's what matters most.)

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