About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1999-2004
Publication year: 2013
ISBN: 978-84-616-3822-2
ISSN: 2340-1117

Conference name: 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2013
Location: Barcelona, Spain

THE INTEGRATION OF LANGUAGE LEARNING WITHIN THE FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEORETICAL TEACHING AND THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF LANGUAGE SKILLS

M. Van Zyl

University of Cape Town (SOUTH AFRICA)
There is a growing literature being published on the importance of cultural competence in improving the quality of health services provided in South Africa and other countries as well. The University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) is at the forefront in teaching language skills to health sciences students, which plays a major role in developing cultural competence.

The preclinical undergraduate training in the MBChB programme at the FHS includes the Becoming a Doctor (BaDr) Course in the second and third years of study. It consists of 3 strands; Languages (isiXhosa and Afrikaans), Clinical Skills and Family Medicine. This is in alignment with the 2003 UCT policy which states that the university should prepare students to “participate fully in a multilingual society”. UCT was recognised for the development of innovative language courses in the FHS by being awarded the PanSALB award for the promotion of Multilingualism in a Higher Education Institution in 2011.

Students are exposed to indigenous languages during weekly language classes and integrated BaDr teaching sessions at various Community Health Centers (CHC’s) in Cape Town. These integrated sessions allow students to practice their language skills as well as expose them to patients, which allows for language consolidation, integration, and contextualizing languages. It helps students with their vocabulary and improves their understanding of the patient’s response in his/her mother tongue.

Language learnt in a classroom situation, however, is more theoretical compared to the more practical approach when a student is exposed to a mother tongue speaker. How does a language lecturer consolidate these two experiences for the learner? The difference between learning a language in the classroom and the practical application of these language skills lies within theory vs. practice.

Language teaching in the classroom does not only focus solely on theory but also on cultural teaching. Slang words and phrases’ cultural associations are discussed to enrich student’s cultural competence. This creates not only an environment of multilingualism but also one of multiculturalism. Patient needs are addressed through the student’s ability to communicate in the patient’s mother tongue and the student’s understanding of the patient’s cultural background.

One way of consolidating language learning in the FHC is to integrate language teaching into the practical application of the clinical skills course and the skills learnt in the family medicine course. The BaDr course has yearly integrated sessions for both 2nd and 3rd year students, where exposure to real patients allows them to integrate their knowledge and practice these skills cohesively. Student and facilitator feedback has been very positive with regards to the integration of the three BaDr strands and the consolidation of theoretical and practical language learning.

The message of my presentation is that multiple languages can be integrated into courses offered in centers for higher education.
@InProceedings{VANZYL2013INT,
author = {Van Zyl, M.},
title = {THE INTEGRATION OF LANGUAGE LEARNING WITHIN THE FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEORETICAL TEACHING AND THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF LANGUAGE SKILLS},
series = {5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies},
booktitle = {EDULEARN13 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-3822-2},
issn = {2340-1117},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Barcelona, Spain},
month = {1-3 July, 2013},
year = {2013},
pages = {1999-2004}}
TY - CONF
AU - M. Van Zyl
TI - THE INTEGRATION OF LANGUAGE LEARNING WITHIN THE FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEORETICAL TEACHING AND THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF LANGUAGE SKILLS
SN - 978-84-616-3822-2/2340-1117
PY - 2013
Y1 - 1-3 July, 2013
CI - Barcelona, Spain
JO - 5th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
JA - EDULEARN13 Proceedings
SP - 1999
EP - 2004
ER -
M. Van Zyl (2013) THE INTEGRATION OF LANGUAGE LEARNING WITHIN THE FACULTY OF HEALTH SCIENCES: THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEORETICAL TEACHING AND THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF LANGUAGE SKILLS, EDULEARN13 Proceedings, pp. 1999-2004.
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