3rd International Medical English Conference
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Presentations & Workshops

2018 International Medical English Conference Presentations & Speakers Details

Arthur McKeown
Independent (UK)

Unlocking the SQUENCK of Nurses and Doctors in UK
UK’s foreign national communities have many unemployed and underemployed nurses and doctors who have Skills, Qualifications, Understanding of professional practice, Experience, Networks, Confidence and Knowledge of their job.

This presentation describes our story as we have gone through the process of defining needs, designing material, documenting solutions and delivering short programmes (locally, nationally and internationally) that have helped to:

  • Unlock the potential of health care professionals to contribute more quickly in the environment where they have come to live
  • Increase the speed with which they can make a successful transition to life in the local community
  • Reduce the cost to the public purse for international recruitment trips.

We will describe how we can:

  • Profile individual skills, qualifications, experience, etc.
  • Create, support and monitor personal learning plans
  • Signpost opportunities for the job-hunting process.

We provide some observations and feedback received on the impact of the process.

Arthur McKeown worked for 20+ years at the University of Ulster on a range of management programmes. Before that he was a teacher, teacher trainer and manager in EFL for 15+ years in Sweden, Libya and Kuwait as well as in the UK and Ireland.


Chris Moore
Specialist Language Courses (SLC) (UK)

Adapting Online Medical English Courses for Classroom Practice
Some of the best current Medical English courses are now online, targeting the English needs of working professionals who can’t get to a classroom. Using video, audio, images, short activities and rapid feedback, they are potentially more accessible, attractive and engaging than printed books.

However, without a clear pedagogy, many teachers feel unable to use online materials for effective classroom teaching. A shame, as printed coursebooks are thin on the ground and cannot easily be updated and adapted.

This talk looks at how to adapt online courses and blend them with face-to-face teaching, and how this impacts on teaching methodology. We look at real life cases of what teachers do in practice, the challenges they face, the successes they achieve, and how their teaching has changed. We then look at the wider implications for Medical English teaching as the online and offline worlds increasingly cross over.

Chris Moore is MD of SLC, the UK’s leading provider of Medical English courses. SLC provides tutored, blended and self-study courses to thousands of learners every year. SLC works with UK NHS Trusts, medical universities in different countries, private hospitals and care home groups, and many individual learners.

Bethan Edwards is SLC’s Academic Director and a highly experienced English teacher, examiner, teacher trainer and materials writer. Bethan led the SLC’s OET accreditation process, has prepared doctors and nurses for OET, and is responsible for internal teacher training and academic quality assurance at SLC.


Dawn Cremonese, Emma Black
University of St Andrews

Dr. Ourania Varsou
University of Glasgow

Irina Markovina & Jonathan McFarland
Sechenov University (Russia)

Humanities in Medicine Symposium
This symposium examines the teaching and learning of medical humanities at two Higher Education establishments, the University of Sechov, Russia and the University of St Andrews.

The project at the University of Sechov developed from The Doctor as a Humanist symposium, an International conference devoted to looking into ways to reintroduce the humanities into medical education in a global context. The principal aim is to show how Medical English can be the catalyst for introducing critical topics related to medical education and doctor’s professional development.

The project at the University of St Andrews stems from the understanding that the humanities should play a vital role in medical education as they provide students with the opportunity to explore a variety of ‘soft skills’ relating to aspects of the medical profession. One such example of integrating the humanities into the medicine curriculum, is through the comparative study of Art History and Anatomy.

In this symposium we discuss the role of the medical humanities in medical education and the interface with intercultural and linguistic communication in medicine. Representatives from each institution will first provide an overview of the projects, followed by in-depth discussions on communal themes and questions and arising from these projects.  The floor will then be opened to a plenary discussion.

Emma Black is a PhD student in Art and Medicine, and Volunteer Development Manager for Festivals Edinburgh.  Emma’s experience in arts and health include heading public engagement for The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, forming arts and advocacy groups with the bleeding disorder community and work as a community art curator.

Dawn Cremonese is the Director of the International Foundation for Medicine programme at the University of St Andrews. She previously worked in Italy where she taught Medical English to healthcare practitioners. Dawn’s research interests are intercultural communication in medical education and language socialisation of ESOL medical students.

Jonathan McFarland is the Head of Academic Writing at Sechenov First State Medical University in Moscow, and a member of their international faculty. He currently holds the position of President of The Doctor as a Humanist Association, a new Association, which held its first international symposium in October 2017, and which aims to promote and develop internationally the concept of the humanities within undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare education.

Irina Markovina is Professor, Director of Institute of Linguistics and Intercultural Communication at Sechenov University, editorial board member of the peer-reviewed Russian journal Problems of Psycholinguistics and reviewer of MedEdPublish (AMEE).  As leader of the international staff she is actively involved in developing the English language environment in the Sechenov and in other medical universities.

Dr Ourania Varsou is a newly appointed lecturer in anatomy at the University of Glasgow having previously worked in the same capacity at the University of St Andrews. Dr Varsou teaches both at the undergraduate and postgraduate level with research interests including the integration of arts and humanities in curricula and development of novel imaging methodologies for anatomy teaching.


Edward Wilkinson & Omar N’Shea
University of Malta (Malta)

Teaching Academic English on a pre-Tertiary Medical Foundation Programme
The pre-tertiary foundation programme leading to medical and allied health degrees at the University of Malta, as at many other institutions, historically focused on general academic English as a separate set of skills to the core curriculum consisting of the study of human biology, biochemistry, and anatomy. After an assessment of the existing model for the teaching and learning of English, we designed and implemented an academic Medical English programme that targets the core needs of learners in their degree courses. We then followed the performance and progress of the learners in their tertiary education to assess the viability of the new curriculum. In this paper, we will present the results of a work-in-progress study which investigates the areas in which the teaching materials for the newly-designed medical English programme had most impact on the learners and propose ways to further improve the existing model.

Edward Wilkinson and Omar N’Shea have co-ordinated and taught the English component of the Medical Foundation Programme at the University of Malta for the last seven years.


Ekaterina G. Lipatova & Nataliya G. Olkhovik
North-Western State Medical University, I.I. Mechnikov (Russia)

The Potential of Video Tasks in Teaching English for Medical Purposes
A modern video has an efficient teaching potential for medical students since it is close to the communication mode of today’s young generation. They manipulate with short videos in the social networks and messengers, exchanging information, emotions and impressions. Moreover, a video performs an important developing function as it forms an ability to observe, notice the details, analyze the communicative situation involving intonation, gestures and so on, that is quite valuable for the future medical specialist.

In our presentation, we will illustrate a digital mechanism of training the student’s individual practices in obtaining future professional skills and preparing for OET format. We will make a focus on the idea how to automate students’ verbal reaction, stimulate their perception of a speech flow, generate models of appropriate interaction and encourage their involvement into continuing language education.

Ekaterina Lipatova possesses a 13-year experience in teaching ESP (Medical English and Business English), designs digital materials for medical students and professionals, and lectures ESP for degrees of General Medicine, Dentistry and Public Health at the Foreign Languages Department of North-Western State Medical University named after I.I. Mechnikov (St. Petersburg, Russia). Ekaterina is currently carrying out a PhD research on the ways of improving the efficiency of ESP with the usage of adaptive textbooks.

Nataliya Olkhovik possesses a 15-year experience in teaching ESP (Medical English, Business English, English for Engineers), designs digital materials for medical students and professionals, and lectures ESP for degrees of General Medicine, Dentistry and Public Health. She is currently the Head of Foreign Languages Department of North-Western State Medical University named after I.I. Mechnikov (St. Petersburg, Russia) and Director of Language Center for medical specialists.


Irina Mitarcheva
Medical University-Plovdiv (Bulgaria)

A CLIL Approach to Teaching English for Medical Purposes
The presentation puts an emphasis on the need for a paradigm shift when teaching medical English to first and second year Bulgarian nursing and medical students at the Medical University of Plovdiv. Using a CLIL approach can provide learners with both specific content knowledge and improved communicative competence, which is crucial for the future medical professionals. So far, the language teaching methods have been focused on the acquisition of passive vocabulary and translation skills, which have proved insufficient to meet the requirements of a patient-centred approach to medical care. The purpose of this report is to shed light on how the introduction of CLIL methodology can bridge the gap between the learners’ needs and the language classroom. This will lead to an increasing motivation among students to learn medical content through English and vice versa.

Irina Mitarcheva has been teaching English for medical purposes at the Department of Languages and Specialised Training, Medical University- Plovdiv, Bulgaria since 2007. Her research interests focus on bilingualism, LSP and CLIL. Irina is a member of the Language for Work Network at the ECML.


Johnathan Jones
UCL Institute of Education (UK)

Ambiguous Sounds in Medical English Terminology: A preliminary study
Given the high-stakes nature of the medical profession—where vital decisions are made and implemented based on verbal communication—and the rapid development of a linguistically diverse workforce, an urgent need has emerged for communicative efficacy in hospital settings. Though intelligible pronunciation and English language training have been identified as pressing concerns for hospitals (Khan, 2016; Yager, 2016), there is a paucity of research on workplace pronunciation-related training (Derwing & Munro, 2014). This presentation will highlight a preliminary study done to help address the research gap, examining phonological contexts where non-native speaking physicians and nurses tend to systematically conflate certain vowel pairs (e.g. ‘a’ and ‘e’ in afferent, efferent), and will help the audience recognize phonological contexts which lead to better or worse communicative acuity. Beyond highlighting causes for ambiguity, the talk will provide practical solutions to overcome pronunciation-related perceptual challenges and offers avenues for further inquiry and training.

Johnathan Jones is a researcher, educator, and assessment specialist conducting postgraduate studies at the UCL Institute of Education. His work focuses on pronunciation-related research with practical applications beyond classroom settings. He holds a Master of Applied Linguistics (University of Melbourne) and credentials in Linguistics and Psychology (University of British Columbia).


Marie McCullagh
University of Portsmouth (UK)

The Trouble is You Can’t See Pain
The profile of patients in the pain clinic setting presents particular challenges for clinicians in the consultation. They need to overcome the emotional and psychological impact of pain on patients’ lives, deal with uncertainties in diagnosis and obtain patient buy-in to treatments which will require considerable commitment on their part. Using the strands of alignment and influencing as a basis for analysis, this talk will present findings of qualitative research into doctor – patient interactions in a consultant-led musculoskeletal pain clinic in the UK.

I will use extracts of dialogue to illustrate how these challenges are presented at different stages of the consultation. I will consider how the doctor responds to them and the effect of this response in terms of relationship building and influencing. Given the importance of communication in the consultation, I will also discuss the implications of my findings for skills training and materials development.

Dr Marie McCullagh is a senior lecturer in applied linguistics and communication at the University of Portsmouth. Her research centres around the integration of language and communication skills in learning materials, and the use of authentic texts to stimulate learner engagement. She is also interested in patient information from a technical communication perspective.


Mary Van Galen
University of Wisconsin-River Falls (USA)

Preparing IMGs for the USMLE Step 2 CS: An intensive 5-day workshop
Completing a medical degree and matching into a medical residency are challenging academic endeavors. Even more challenging is matching into a United States medical residency if you are a nonnative English speaker and completed a medical degree at a foreign medical school. Over 25% of United States working physicians are classified as International Medical Graduates. Although English has become the lingua franca of the global medical discourse community, a major hurdle for International Medical Graduates is the demonstration of effective English language communication skills via the passage of the United States Medical Licensing Exam Step 2 Clinical Skills (USMLE Step 2 CS).

This session proposes a five-day intensive workshop which evaluates and prepares International Medical Graduates for the OSCE-type experience during the USMLE Step 2 CS, focusing directly on the five essential English language skills in medicine: comprehensive reading, writing, speaking, comprehensive listening, and communicating nonverbally.

Mary van Galen holds a Master’s degree in Maternal Child Health Nursing with an emphasis on International Health from the University of Texas – El Paso and a Master’s degree in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls.


Petra Zrníková
Jessenius Faculty of Medicine, Comenius University (Slovakia)

Course Design: Medical English for Academic Purposes
Teaching medical English in Eastern Europe (Slovakia) differs especially in terms of learners´ motivation. English is primarily used for academic purposes. Contact with an English-speaking patient is very rare. In this workshop, I will present rationales for choice of topics and tasks. My course was built on principles of communicative approach and task-based teaching, using authentic materials. The goals include microskills such as understanding a book and scientific paper, understanding a lecture, taking notes, paraphrasing content, giving presentation, sharing opinion in discussions, various forms of academic writing, and cultural awareness. To share my experience, participants will be provided with a worksheet. They will do tasks and give ideas on how they would implement the material in their courses. For this purpose, I have chosen a topic “Immunity and vaccination”. The worksheet contains cloze-test reading, reading a paper, making summary, exercises on medical terminology, listening to a discussion and exchanging opinions.

Petra Zrníková teaches English for doctors, nurses, midwives and public health officers. She designed a syllabus for the course ‘English for Medical Sciences (level C1)’ for an international certificate examination in the UNIcert certification system. In her research, she deals with teaching academic English, testing and material design.


Simon Beeston
Occupational English Test UK

Assessing English Language Speaking Skills for Clinical Communication
There is no doubt that patient safety is dependent upon the clinical skills, knowledge and experience of the practitioners involved in delivering healthcare, but what language skills and resources are needed in order for healthcare practitioners to be able to deliver effective healthcare to their patients and how can these language competencies be assessed?  This presentation will review the underlying test construct of the OET Speaking test and draw on the available research to evidence the validity of the test.  By reviewing the test format and sample materials, the speaker will present a case for the positive benefits of washback on candidates preparing for the test, and its positive impact in terms of the consequential validity of the test.

Simon Beeston is the OET UK&I Stakeholder Relations Director having previously been a board Director of CBLA, the organisation that owns OET.  He has worked in education, learning and assessment since 1982, holding directorships since 2001 at BPP in the City of London and at both the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge. During that time, he has been responsible for successfully developing and delivering digital learning and assessment solutions in a number of market contexts.  He started his career as an English language teacher, completing CELTA, and DELTA teaching courses and an MA in Applied Linguistics before teaching in the UK and overseas for ten years.


Stavri Adams
University of Southampton (UK)

Lexical Recognition and Usage of Medical  Technical and Sub-technical Vocabulary
This study focuses on: a) the sub-technical vocabulary, which is shared among academic disciplines and b) the technical vocabulary, which is limited only in the medical discipline. To measure the receptive vocabulary, a corpus of 2,097,627 running words was generated from learning and teaching materials leading to a word recognition pre-task and post-task. To investigate students’ productive usage, 115 submitted essays were profiled and their degree of use of the two kinds of vocabulary was examined. Results from n.=115 participating subjects suggest that students’ recognition of both kinds of disciplinary vocabulary has been increased, however, their productive use doesn’t follow a similar pattern. This suggests that medical students may be aware of their disciplinary vocabulary by the end of one semester, however, they may lag behind in their productive usage which can have serious implications in their demonstration of awareness of the two kinds of vocabulary for examination/ward practice purposes.

Stavri Adams is a PhD Candidate in Applied Linguistics in English Language Teaching and an academic tutor in the EAP course at the University of Southampton. Her research interests include English for Specific Purposes, English for Academic Purposes, Second Language Acquisition and corpus linguistics.


Virginia Allum  & Bethan Edwards
Specialist Language Courses (SLC), (UK)

Something from Nothing: Creating OET materials from scratch
OET has suddenly gone big. Now accepted by the UK and Irish regulatory bodies, demand for OET preparation has gone through the roof. However, there are very few materials available for teachers and schools, not even a course book!

This workshop focuses on how we created a raft of OET preparation and assessment materials to use with nurses and doctors wanting to work in the UK. We offer insights into what we did to adapt resources, test them out and use them, either in tutored classes or in our online study materials.

This is a common problem facing Medical English teachers around the world, giving courses with a lack of good, up-to-date materials. We hope to provide insights into materials creation that will give you great ideas and plenty of inspiration when sourcing, adapting and making your own.

Virginia Allum is SLC’s Head of Medical English, and author of SLC’s online courses for doctors, nurses, carers, and now, the online OET preparation course. Virginia is a well-known Medical English writer, speaker, trainer and teacher trainer, and led SLC’s OET accreditation process with Bethan Edwards.

Bethan Edwards is SLC’s Academic Director and a highly experienced English teacher, examiner, teacher trainer and materials writer. Bethan led the SLC’s OET accreditation process, has prepared doctors and nurses for OET, and is responsible for internal teacher training and academic quality assurance at SLC.


Zhenya Gundasheva
Trakia University (Bulgaria)

Introducing Humour as an Intercultural Communication Technique in EMP Training
This presentation serves to report the methodology and findings of a project on intercultural communication in the EMP classroom. The authors have studied the stereotypes of medical communication using humour in our lessons. Through caricatures, anecdotes, jokes and puns, we have tried to examine the cultural specifics of the students. We have held meetings with medical students from different cultures and have challenged them to share their notions of communication incidents, misunderstandings and misconceptions while learning how to communicate with other cultures at their respective medical university. We also report on how we have introduced humour as a technique to challenge students’ ideas and behaviour and build bridges between them as colleagues and fellow students of medicine.

Zhenya Gundasheva is an English Instructor at Trakia University in Bulgaria and teaches Veterinary Medical English and French to Bulgarian and foreign students. She holds a MA degree in Translation Studies and has a background in Applied Linguistics (Korean, English and French). Her interests are in the field of communication, translation studies and EMP materials writing.