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J. Claassen, M. Lewis

University of Cape Town (SOUTH AFRICA)
Mauritian medical students have been assimilated into the second year of the medicine (MBChB.)-programme at the medical school of the University of Cape Town (South Africa) since 2002. In accordance with the South African Language Policy of 1995, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences have included career-orientated language courses in the Afrikaans and Xhosa-languages into the programme. Subsequently, the Mauritian students are expected to learn two foreign languages by means of accelerated language courses (effectively ‘crash courses’) over three weeks that will enable them to join their peers two weeks later in wards where they often encounter Afrikaans-speaking patients.

The Mauritian students undergo the language courses prior to the beginning of the third semester and receive 21 hours of tuition (in two weeks), while the Afrikaans beginner peers have received 30 hours tuition (over 5 months of tuition). This paper intends to focus on the academic performance of the Mauritian students in the Afrikaans Language assessments performed during and after the initial, accelerated ‘crash course’ (over the two weeks in July and August) and the final term assessment performances that the Mauritian medical students undergo with their peers four months later (November) that allows a pass into the third-year medicine-programme. The Afrikaans and Xhosa languages act as a component that has to be passed for entry into the third-year MBChB-programme.

The tracking of the assessment performances of the Mauritian students into the third-year and fourth-year programmes will also be explored in the paper and compared to the performance of the equivalent third-year Afrikaans Beginners who received the tuition for five months more in the initial year of study.

The teaching methodology to cope with such an accelerated foreign language course will also be explored in depth in terms of assessments standards and practises. The feedback available to students will be explored and Mauritian student approaches to the courses will be highlighted as well, in contrast to many of the South African medical students do not initially understand why they should undergo career-orientated language training. This paper attempts to shed light on whether the accelerated language course that is offered, provides sufficient grounding to the foreign-language (Mauritian) medical students to account for immediate and equivalent spoken ability among their peers who are also learning the language, by tracking how they perform during assessments between the second and fourth year of study at the University of Cape Town (South Africa) that currently culminates in a one-on-one, patient-orientated language assessment for the student.