The University of Leeds (UNITED KINGDOM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2015 Proceedings
Publication year: 2015
Page: 6217 (abstract only)
ISBN: 978-84-606-5763-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 2-4 March, 2015
Location: Madrid, Spain
Peng (2011) notes in a study of students learning medical English in China, that there is “an overwhelming amount of difficult medical vocabulary and texts”. It is noted that, in many countries that teach English as a foreign language, medical English is taught separately and as a formal subject.

In the UK there is very little concentration on medical English, technical terms being picked up in science subjects or haphazardly through reading. There is much anecdotal evidence that students do not understand many of the terms used in a medical context but use colloquial terms instead.

There are many texts available listing terminology and some basic orientational phrases are taught formally within the first semester. Many students spend time picking this information up in the first few months of the course, often having to re read lecture notes to understand the medical contexts after they have developed a better understanding of the terminology.

It was decided to begin giving students access to a teaching repository of medical terms prior to commencing the course. Rather than simply giving the students access to a list of terms it was decided to help them with their learning techniques by giving them access to online language software. Students when starting university have to develop the skills and activities that help them learn. Bjork et al (2012) recognise this and state that becoming a successful learner requires them to know “what learning activities and techniques support long-term retention and transfer”. By using an established and organised learning tool much of this time needed to learn how to learn can be harnessed in learning the vocabulary needed to understand material being delivered.

The software used is Memrise (, designed to learn languages, its techniques and testing enable students to reinforce the words they are using. It uses a variety of techniques, including varied testing and timed reminders for students to enable them to move learning from short to long term memory. Bjork et all note this as well “long-term benefits that arise when spacing practice occurs across multiple sessions”.

The software also allows assessment of a students engagement by a points and leaderboard system. This allows staff to measure engagement by students, equating number of points to the amount of study undertaken.

The formal evaluation of the use of the software by students is currently being undertaken and results will be available at presentation. Preliminary findings indicate significant engagement by over 1/3 of the cohort with students spending from a couple of hours to effectively hundreds of hours in using the software. Evaluation of its use from the student perspective is to take place as part of the module review. However investigation to compare the level of understanding of those using the software and those not has not been undertaken.
Medical terminology, language, Radiography.