You are on page 1of 3

TERMINOLOGIE MEDICAL

12

ENGLISH FOR MEDICAL PURPOSE TEACHING


Asist. Univ. Dr. Mirela Radu Disciplina de limbi strine, Facultatea de Medicin Dentar, Universitatea Titu Maiorescu, Bucureti
ABSTRACT
For these medical personnel, the first step to access medical language is to learn medical words. Medical terminology is a specific terminology which is used to achieve the purpose of communication in the health care field efficiently and precisely. Terminologycentered learning proves to be an efficient way to bring the students into medical English world. Key words: lingua franca, medical terminology, medical vocabulary

The lingua franca of medicine, and most scientific fields, is English. The worlds most widely cited medical journals are published in English. As such, clinicians and researchers whose native language is not English must learn it to avail themselves to the large body of medical knowledge published in English. We are particularly interested in learners strategy use in the learning of medical terminology. Medical language is the language employed by doctors and nurses in writing medical records and communicating with each other. Doctors need to learn to read and write medical terminology in L2 to complete hospital admission notes, diagnosis, and orders, which, later on, nurses must read, follow in order to carry out nursing interventions and take care of their patients. For these medical and nursing professionals, their first step to access medical language is to learn medical words. Medical terminology is a specific terminology which is used to achieve the purpose of communication in the health care field efficiently and precisely, such as in writing diagnosis and nurses notes. Basically, medical terminology has two characteristics. First, except for the one-syllable words, most medical words are made of roots and affixes. The affixes can be classified into prefix and suffix. Any single medical term has at least one root determining its meaning and one or more prefixes or suffixes to change the part of speech or change the meaning of the word. Teachers generally use this specific word formation to help students deal with these words. But, recognizing the word parts used to build medical terms still seems to be a major obstacle to students

learning medical terms. Moreover, using word parts occasionally has pitfalls in guessing word meaning from context. Second, medical vocabulary is an open system with a large number of low-frequency words and newly created words. Teaching and learning all the words seem to be an impossible task. Hence, teaching learners vocabulary learning strategies for inferring the word meanings is more efficient than teaching every vocabulary item encountered.

TEACHING PROCEDURES
It is well known that 98% of medical terms have Latin and Greek origins and have their own rules of word building with distinctive characteristics, so we take the teaching strategy as follows: 1. Analysis of the component parts First, we help students analyze words by dividing them into component parts. Our goal is to help them learn the tools of word analysis that will make the understanding of the complex terminology easier. Medical terms are very much like puzzles. They are constructed of small pieces that make each word unique, but the pieces can be used in different combinations in other words as well. As the students become familiar with the word parts and learn what each means, they will be able to recognize those word parts in totally new combinations in other terms. Medical language is logical in that most terms, whether complex or simple, can be broken into basic parts and then understood. At the beginning, some ordinary English words with which students are quite familiar can be showed to help students
145

REVISTA ROMN DE STOMATOLOGIE VOL. LIV, NR. 2-3, AN 2008

146

REVISTA ROMN DE STOMATOLOGIE VOL. LIV, NR. 2-3, AN 2008

understand the magical effect of the word building. For example, psychology, we can divide it as follows: psych /o/ logy: The root psych- means of mind The suffix -logy means study of The entire term means study of the mind And then we show some medical words to illustrate the same rules. hemat/ o / logy: The root is the foundation of the word. All medical terms have one or more roots. The root hemat- means blood. The suffix is the word ending. All medical terms have suffix. The suffix -logy means study of. The combining vowel (usually O) links the root to the suffix or the root to another root. A combining vowel has no meaning of its own; it only joins one word part to another. It is useful to read the meaning of medical terms starting from the suffix back to the beginning of the term. Thus, the term hematology means study of blood. Sometimes the term can have two roots and two combining vowels such as eletr /o/ cardi /o/ gram. But sometimes the combining vowel O is missing, because the suffix begins with a vowel. The combining vowel is dropped before a suffix that begins with a vowel such as gastr / itis. In addition to the root, suffix, and combining vowel, there are two other word parts, which are combining form and prefix. For example, hemat/o =root +combining vowel = combining form. Combining form can be used with many different suffixes so it is useful to know the meaning of a combining form. The prefix is a small part that is attached to the beginning of a term. Not all medical terms contain prefixes, but the prefix can have an important influence on meaning. For example, sub/gastr/ic means pertaining to under the stomach. The sub is the prefix which means under. 2. Study in the order of body system With the concept of the word building rules, we begin to relate the medical terms to structure and function of the human body on the basis of separated body systems. As we all know there is a huge amount of terms we have to deal with. Then what terms are essentials to our students? Traditionally, medical terms are mixed with our text. While explaining the text, teachers analyze the structure of the terms and ask the students to memorize their prefix, suffix and meanings. However, terminology course, isolated from any text, is designed to accumulate terms in the order of body system. By the time students study the term, they

can use the knowledge of medicine ever learned to make some explanation or description in English, so that some related terms are inevitably mentioned and reviewed. And some relevant systems can be chosen according to students interests and class hours. Take digestive system for example. In this part, students will learn 1) to name the organs of the digestive system and describe their locations and functions and 2) to memorize some most commonly used combining forms, suffixes and prefixes. Names related to organs may include such as oral cavity, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, liver, gallbladder, pancreas and more details about them. Combining forms such as celi/o (belly, abdomen), colon/o (colon), dent/i (tooth), enter/o (intestines) and suffixes like prandial (meal), -chezia (defecation, elimination of wastes), -ase (enzyme) etc. will also be introduced. Terms about body as a whole should be studied at the opening of the course. 3. Exercise design Exercises in class and after class are essential to the study of terminology. It includes several aspects such as spelling, pronunciation, word building and practical use in reading and writing. a) Spelling Spelling of medical terminology usually is very complex. It is not easy to give correct spelling. In order to lead students to form a good habit of correct spelling, some spelling exercises are designed, focusing on commonly used roots, suffix, prefix and combining form, to help students acquire a good command of spelling skills. b) Pronunciation By introducing the pronunciation rules, we provide enough chances for students to practice reciting the terms correctly in class. Students are encouraged to guess the pronunciations according to the rules learned. Gradually they find them as easy to utter the terms as common English words. c) Word building Some cross matches are designed to promote students understanding of the terminology formation. For example, some combining form and suffixes are listed and students are asked to reform as many medical terms as possible. It is so interesting that students enjoy them very much and tend to practice more. d) Reading and writing As the terminology is learned, students will experience a satisfaction with their professional reading and writing. For example, a case report is one of the homework assignment or the students

REVISTA ROMN DE STOMATOLOGIE VOL. LIV, NR. 2-3, AN 2008

147

are required to use medical language to give a description of a patient or to change some nonprofessional terms into medical terms in some writings. It really helps students be more aware of the differences between common English and medical English.

CONCLUSION
Medical terminology is the basic part in the learning of medical English. By means of

terminology-centered study, students overcome the obstacles on the path of medical English learning and make the study easier and more effective. It proves to be an efficient way to bring the students into medical English world. In conclusion, it would be very difficult to make learning really effective in such a varied context without taking the aspects mentioned into consideration.