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Historical view of medical Spanish instruction in a medical school at the US–Mexico border region

Abstract

With a growing speaking Spanish population in the USA, it is necessary to help meet their healthcare needs. The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine is located in El Paso at the US–Mexico border. The medical Spanish curriculum is required for all medical students and begins on their first day of medical school, with conversational Spanish and medical Spanish through the preclerkship years. One of the key elements to the success of this course is the use of instructors with expertise in language instruction with an emphasis on task-based instruction. In addition to language instruction, this course also emphasizes instruction and experience in the culture of the US–Mexico border region. While taught medical Spanish, students are also prompted to understand when their skills are not adequate for the situation, in which case they need to enlist a skilled translator. Students report that, on a daily basis, they productively use what they learned in this preclerkship curriculum.

  • Education, Medical
  • Language

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