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The Experience Of Arab University Medical\ud Students Whose Main Subjects Are Taught In\ud English

By Laila Mohammad Salem Al-adah

Abstract

The study is about the experience of Arab University students whose main\ud subjects are taught in English. It investigates and discusses many English language\ud problems in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in teaching, learning and studying\ud medicine, pure science and technical English.\ud \ud \ud In general, Arab learners of the English language encounter problems in the\ud four skills of the English language, in speaking, writing, reading and listening. They\ud also show weaknesses in many aspects of the English language such as vocabulary,\ud grammar, pronunciation, spelling, morphology and syntax. The question is how these\ud language difficulties affect their studies in medicine. The initial hypothesis was that\ud all depended on the students’ facility in English, but this turned out not to be the case.\ud \ud \ud The research started with the analysis of students’ written replies to\ud questions. This was followed by the development of a questionnaire distributed to 736\ud medical students. This explored various factors in relation to their success in exams to\ud find out which factors might be significant.\ud \ud \ud There were few correlations between success in medical exams and previous\ud encounters with the English language. The one correlation between the test results and\ud the questionnaire findings was not the uses of and familiarity with English but the\ud parents’ background. The research therefore went on to explore, through interviews,\ud and analysis of written statements, the students’ attitudes towards the teaching of\ud medicine in relation to the use of the English language.\ud \ud \ud It was found that the hypothesis of the importance of English as a prerequisite\ud for success was not borne out. What was discovered was the students’ pragmatic\ud attitude towards their study and that what they thought they needed as medical\ud practitioners depended on a kind of secondary technical vocabulary.\ud \ud \ud The research discusses some of the effects of learning and teaching theories\ud and their relationship to the process of the education system. Whilst social\ud constructivism is held to be the ideal one to apply to the learning process, this\ud research demonstrated that behaviorism and rote learning still dominated the\ud experience of the students in their learning of medicine. Despite their continued\ud commitment to the ideals of learning English, the students took a pragmatic approach\ud to their studies, which consisted of a mixture of Arabic and English medical\ud vocabulary

Topics: RT, LB2300, PE
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:5012
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