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Recall of general and medical vocabulary and text structure knowledge: An experimental study of English for Medical Purposes


avatar S Zarein-Dolab 1 , *

1 Assistant professor, English Language Department, Shahid Beheshti University (M.C.)

How to Cite: Zarein-Dolab S. Recall of general and medical vocabulary and text structure knowledge: An experimental study of English for Medical Purposes. J Med Edu. 2008;12(3 & 4):e105377.
doi: 10.22037/jme.v12i3,4.1251.


Journal of Medical Education: 12 (3 & 4); e105377
Published Online: August 01, 2009
Article Type: Research Article
Received: August 01, 2009
Accepted: August 01, 2009


Background and purpose: A 3-unit course is dedicated to general language in medical universities and the vocabulary and text structure of the courses have usually no relation to medical language. We examine whether teaching general language will be as effective as medical language as assessed through recall of general and medical vocabulary and text structure knowledge.Methods: an experimental study was designed, in that, the third year students who had participated in the 3-unit general language classes in the first year of their General Practitioner (GP) program were selected and sat for a 60 MCQ tests. The 60 MCQ tests consisted of 30 questions of general language, 25 vocabulary and 5 comprehension questions and also 30 questions of medical language, 25 technical and semi-technical vocabulary and 5 comprehension questions. In all, 145 medical students attended the exam which took 40 minutes to accomplish.Results: The results of the study indicated that memory retention was significantly lower in general language than medical language. The technical and semi-technical vocabulary items were significantly better recalled and the medical text was significantly better understood by the participants.Conclusion: A 3-unit course in general language may be a futile effort since the students will not be exposed to the same vocabulary and text structure knowledge in later years of their GP program. It is recommended that the focus of all the university English courses be on the medical language.


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© 2008, Journal of Medical Education. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License ( which permits copy and redistribute the material just in noncommercial usages, provided the original work is properly cited.