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Obstacles in Teaching Medical English

Obstacles in Teaching Medical English
Kutalia Maka, ph.d. of education, full professor

University Of Georgia, Georgia

Conference participant

The paper deals with the effective ways of teaching Medical English and defining the difficulties caused in the process of teaching medical Englishin order to improve comprehendingcommunication. Medical metaphors and medical acronyms, terminology as well turned out to be the most obstructive factors in the process of teaching Medical English.  It is essential that language for specific purpose (EMP) courses be based on learners' actual language learning needs, which can be gained through qualitative needs analysis. Medical English is taught from the perspective of medicine and health care first and while reinforcing vocabulary acquisition, grammar and structure secondly. Students’ demand for English is very specific. In analyzing students’ needs we can conclude that their demand is more specific than English for General Purposes and students are more motivated to acquire and use medical language within the field of their interest.

Empirical research questions relate to:
1.        How to teach English for medical purposes
2.        To define the difficulties caused in the process of teaching medical English

Keywords: Medical terminology; Medical acronyms; Medical metaphors; English for medical purpose

Статья касается эффективных путей обучения медицинского английского языка и определения тех проблем, которые проявляются в процессе обучения обласного медицинского английского языка. Требование обучающихся областному медицинскому английскому языку специфично, отличается от общего английского языка.

Проведенное эмпирическое исследование содержит определение следующих вопросов:
а) как обучать областному медицинскому английскому языку;
б)определение существующих сложностей в процессе обучения областного медицинского английского языка.

Ключевые слова: Медицинская терминология; Медицинская акроним; Медицинская  метафора;медицинский английский

 

Introduction

This paper tries to explore the obstacles in teaching Medical English. Teaching English is very important due to the global character of medical research.  In the last 5 years, the world has been faced several times with fast spreading diseases such as “bird flu” and H1N1virus to have the possibility to exchange professional information.

This articlefocuses on the frequent use of medical metaphors, Acronyms and terminology as well and identifying difficulties related to the process of teaching them.  Over the past few decades, many changes in medical education particularly at the undergraduatelevel were introduced.  With continued increase of international contacts in various fields, much attention has been attached to the design of ESP/ English for medical purpose (EMP) courses that can prepare students for professional communication with colleagues of other countries. However in the practice of teaching Medical English, questions have been raised by teachers and educators again and again, such as: What are the obstacles in teaching Medical English? What can be done about students’ poor motivation?  Revealing the difficulties can be a challenge for many teachers of EMP.

In brief, this research attempts to clarify the difficulties found most and least frequently by the learnersthey may come across in learning Medical English

Method and Material

Participants in the current study were 100 upper intermediate students of public Health at the University of Georgia and Medical University. The students were required to classify and identify most and lest obstructive factors in the process of learning Medical English.

The conducted empirical research illustrates the use of such a questionnaire as a tool to:

1. To define the most obstructive factors in the process of learning Medical English:

       a) Medical metaphors

       b) Medical acronyms

       c) Medical terminology

2. What are the effective ways of teaching Medical English?

We provided students with passages included 1.Medical Metaphors 2. Medical Acronyms and 3. Medical Terminology as well.  Students were required to identify their meanings and defining their importance and difficulties in the process of learning Medical English.

1) Dialogue between the doctor and the  patient  with cancer ( dialogues conducted based on metaphors)

MD: “Mr. T, how did it go last night?”

Mr. T: “Not so good doc. Lots of pain.  But you know me. I took some pain medicine and soldiered on.

MD: “Yeah!  You are a real fighter.”

Mr. T: “So did you get my bone scan resultsback?”

MD: “Yes, I did.  your bone scan litup like a Christmas tree.”

Mr. T: That means that the result is good, is not it?

MD: Unfortunately, the cancer has spread to your bones. “I am talking to some other specialists tosee if we can zap the bone mets first.  “Mr. T  you are doinggreat. Well, you are a real trooper,  So . . . Should Icall the radiation oncology docs?

Mr. T: (Cheering up) “Thereis still some morefight left in this oldbody of mine. Let’s give them a run for their money.”

II.      Medical Acronyms in the given sentence

2)   B.P, CV and H.R problems made her unhappy.

 III.   Medical terminology in the given passage

3)   The science of epidemiology was first developed to discover and understand possible causes of disease like smallpox, typhoid and polio among humans.

Finally, students were given the following questionnaires in order to explore the problems.

Empirical research was done included the following questions:

1. Is it possible to communicate with a doctor without a basic knowledge of medical terminology?

2. Does professional knowledge help you to catch the meaning of the English Medical terminology?

3. Do medical acronyms cause problems in communication?

  If they do, what are they?

4. Is it possible to catch the meaning of the Medical metaphor based on the professional knowledge?

5. Is it possible to classify medical metaphors?

6.  Define the most obstructive factors in the process of learning Medical English?

a)  Medical metaphors     b) medical acronyms        c) medical terminology

Results and Discussion

We defined four types of groups based on the students’ answers. Questions dealt with the difficulties in the process of learning medical English revealed the difficulties found most and least frequently by the learnersand the importance of medical metaphors, acronyms and terminology.

According to the empirical research some interesting conclusions can be drawn;

·      90%percent of students can see the problem in catching meanings of medical metaphors.

·      While  80% percent of inquired students categorized medical metaphors into two groups:

1. General Medical metaphors and

2. Poetic Medical metaphors.

1.        Examples of General  Medical Metaphors

·The body is a biochemical dance

·medicine is war

·The body is an enduring pattern;

·You're in tip top condition

·Illness is a puzzle

·a doctor is a controller

·Sad is down

2.        Examples of  Poetic  Medical Metaphors.

·It's like ants running all over my body

·I waslike a wet leaf;

·Burning, It islike Chinese burn;

·I get as if there is something crawling uplike a maggot;

·It feels as though I‘ve got a hair at the back of my throat

·When I have gout, I feel as though I am walking on my eyeballs.

·'I'm frightened it will spreadlike wildfire'."

They considered that poetic metaphors are connected to the description of illness, while general metaphors are emphasizing the situation.

·95%percent of students considerthe knowledge of medical terminology as one of the most significant aspects in the medical fields.

·65%present of studentshave come to the conclusion that the professional knowledge helps them to catch the meaning of the English medical terminology. 

·      While 35% percent of students can see the problem in understanding medical terminology.

·      75%percent of inquired students consider medical acronyms as one of the most obstructive factors in learning Medical English. They misunderstood medical acronyms.

   Acronyms’ meaning in the given sentence                         Students’ version

   B.P (blood pressure)                                                        B.P (British petroleum)                                                            

   CV (cardiovascular)                                                         CV (curriculum vitae ) 

   H.R (heart rate)                                                               H.R    (hour)   

 Students were given medical acronyms with more than one meaning.Thus, they failed in catching their meanings from medical perspective.         

·      95% percent of students consider that appropriate way of teaching Medical English is significant.

Conclusion

Our empirical research has revealed the great importance of medical terminology, metaphors and acronyms for conducting professional communications.

Concentrating on teaching metaphors, acronyms and terminology makes it easy to improve comprehendingcommunication.Whether you deal with the clinical side or the administrative side, everyone involved in health care uses various terms, metaphors and acronyms to describe procedures and office practices. Medical English covers the specific words and phrases you will need to learn to function effectively and understand the “language” of health care. 

The results of the experiment has identified obstacles in the process of teaching Medical English and revealed that Medical Metaphors, Medical Acronyms and Medical Terminology are foundational in learning medical English to provide optimal care for patients in their future career.

 

References:

  1. Gylys, B. A., & Wedding, M. E. (1983). Medical terminology. New York: F.A. Davis Co.
  2. Fang, F. S. (1985). The investigation and evaluation of the teaching methods on medical terminology. Paper presented at the Second National Conference on TESOL, Taipei, Iran, R.O.C.
  3. Hutchinson, Tom & Waters, Alan (1987). English for Specific Purposes: A learner-centered approach. Cambridge University Press.
  4. Johns, Ann M. & Dudley-Evans, Tony (1991). English for Specific Purposes: International in Scope, Specific in Purpose. TESOL Quarterly
  5. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, (2002.) Medical terms & abbreviations. 2nd ed. Springhouse, Pa.
Comments: 5

Kutalia Maka

Thanks a lot for reading and commenting on my article. It’s obvious that EMP is treated as a particular language and taught in a particular way. There is no doubt that teaching Medical English always involves a heated discussion. There are questions that always arise my attention- What kind of obstacles is very common in the process of teaching EMP? What makes the learning process difficult? Based on my conducted empirical research, I tried to solve the problems partly. It turned out that teaching Medical English by emphasizing medical metaphors, medical acronyms and medical terminology as well will make the learning process easier. Thanks a Lot

Zalevskaya Alexandra Alexandrovna

Обращение к метаязыковым возможностям обучаемых и к их суждениям о трудностях, с которыми они встречаются в процессе овладения некоторой деятельностью, хорошо оправдывает себя во многих ситуациях. Использование такой исследовательской процедуры в связи с обучением английскому языку студентов-медиков позволило получить наглядное свидетельство тому, как важно "держать руку на пульсе", чтобы можно было предварительно снять трудности овладения языком, предусмотреть возможные неверные толкования и вследствие этого - ошибочное использование языковых средств в ответственных ситуациях лечения больного. Списки необходимых профессионально-важных сокращений следует заучивать до уровня автоматизма. Александра Александровна Залевская

Parzulova, Mariyana

Статья направленная на актуальную проблему преподавания английского языка для медицинских целей. Использованные методы, материал-объект исследования, результаты и обсуждение свидетельствуют о прикладном характере обсуждаемой работы. Изучая медицинские метафоры, сокращения и медицинские термины на английском языке обозначает, что указывается и правильный путь к преодолевания препятствий во взаимопонимании пациентов и медиков. Желаю успехов коллеге в дальнейших исследованиях! Марияна Парзулова

Kostina Irina

Ценность данной работы заключается в том, что автор представляет результаты собственного эмпирического исследования, рассматривающего вопросы преподавания английского языка в медицинской сфере. Автор аргументированно показывает специфику употребления и использования медицинской терминологии.

Jdanova Liubov

teaching of the language for specific purpose (EMP) courses based on learners' actual language learning needs, is very important in the pedagogic. Specific vocabulary, abbreviations, terminology should be developed using the specialist's and students help. Involve students in the research is important for the goal's realization. The author's conclusion corresponds to the article's aims.
Comments: 5

Kutalia Maka

Thanks a lot for reading and commenting on my article. It’s obvious that EMP is treated as a particular language and taught in a particular way. There is no doubt that teaching Medical English always involves a heated discussion. There are questions that always arise my attention- What kind of obstacles is very common in the process of teaching EMP? What makes the learning process difficult? Based on my conducted empirical research, I tried to solve the problems partly. It turned out that teaching Medical English by emphasizing medical metaphors, medical acronyms and medical terminology as well will make the learning process easier. Thanks a Lot

Zalevskaya Alexandra Alexandrovna

Обращение к метаязыковым возможностям обучаемых и к их суждениям о трудностях, с которыми они встречаются в процессе овладения некоторой деятельностью, хорошо оправдывает себя во многих ситуациях. Использование такой исследовательской процедуры в связи с обучением английскому языку студентов-медиков позволило получить наглядное свидетельство тому, как важно "держать руку на пульсе", чтобы можно было предварительно снять трудности овладения языком, предусмотреть возможные неверные толкования и вследствие этого - ошибочное использование языковых средств в ответственных ситуациях лечения больного. Списки необходимых профессионально-важных сокращений следует заучивать до уровня автоматизма. Александра Александровна Залевская

Parzulova, Mariyana

Статья направленная на актуальную проблему преподавания английского языка для медицинских целей. Использованные методы, материал-объект исследования, результаты и обсуждение свидетельствуют о прикладном характере обсуждаемой работы. Изучая медицинские метафоры, сокращения и медицинские термины на английском языке обозначает, что указывается и правильный путь к преодолевания препятствий во взаимопонимании пациентов и медиков. Желаю успехов коллеге в дальнейших исследованиях! Марияна Парзулова

Kostina Irina

Ценность данной работы заключается в том, что автор представляет результаты собственного эмпирического исследования, рассматривающего вопросы преподавания английского языка в медицинской сфере. Автор аргументированно показывает специфику употребления и использования медицинской терминологии.

Jdanova Liubov

teaching of the language for specific purpose (EMP) courses based on learners' actual language learning needs, is very important in the pedagogic. Specific vocabulary, abbreviations, terminology should be developed using the specialist's and students help. Involve students in the research is important for the goal's realization. The author's conclusion corresponds to the article's aims.
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