Happy New Year! It´s that time of year when people start to consider those aspects of their lives which they hope to improve or change. Though for some the term resolution immediately conjures feelings of dread or guilt-ridden memories, not all resolutions are as extreme as losing twenty pounds or as difficult as going from not running to running a marathon. This year, I challenge you to resolve to expand you knowledge in medical Spanish or teaching medical Spanish. Whether you are an instructor or a student yourself, there are many opportunities available to help you start making some small steps towards furthering your professional development. Below, I offer a few suggestions of ways you can resolve to learn more this new year.
FOR MEDICAL SPANISH LEARNERS:
Listen to a pod cast:
Listening to the language is a great and easy way to improve your skills. It allows you to hear how it is spoken, especially aspects such as pronunciation, grammar and word choice. In addition, a podcast has the added benefit of teaching a particular aspect. Being short and portable –enabling you to listen to them while driving to work, cleaning the house or even exercising– makes them an easy addition to a busy schedule. By simply searching, you can find many podcasts created in different ways and with distinct goals. However, here are three examples to get you started:
Attend a Spanish for medical professionals courseStuck in a learning rut and having trouble advancing? Jump in a class to boost you abilities. If you do not have much time available or have tried traditional courses without much improvement, try taking an immersion course.
- For regular courses, try asking at your local community college or hospital for what is available.
- Regarding medical Spanish immersion courses, those with at least intermediate level Spanish can check out the course offered by the Universidad de Oviedo.
Set small goals to learn new vocabulary
One challenge of learning medical Spanish is the amount of vocabulary that there is to learn. One way to confront that challenge is to spend some time thinking of words that you do not know in Spanish but would like to be able to use in the medical interview. Write them down on notecards and leave them either in your purse, briefcase, office or somewhere at home in an easily accessible and commonly used spot. When you have time (or during those moments you choose to set time aside), flip through them and see how many you can recall. As you think of more words you would like to know, add them to the stack. You may be surprised to see how many you start to remember!
Yes, it is difficult to be immersed in a language without leaving your home country. Nonetheless, you can incorporate the language in where you are. Look for ways to add in Spanish to your daily life. Try buying some Spanish music to listen to, putting on a movie in Spanish with English subtitles, picking up the newspaper in Spanish or reading the news in Spanish online, watching Univision once in a while or even changing your phone and other apps to Spanish.
- Though I am by far not the best resource on good music, here are a few bands to get you started: Jessie and Joy, Juanes, Julieta Venegas, Jarabe de Palo, Fito y Fitipaldis, Maná y Maldita Nerea.
- Most news sites have sister sites in Spanish (CNN, Huffington Post, BBC, etc.) but you can also look up sites directly in Spanish (Univision, La Jornada, El País, etc.)
- To watch the news in Spanish, you can go to Univision, RT TV, RTVE, etc.
Make a goal to use your Spanish whenever you can
Ever go to a Mexican/Cuban/Salvadorian restaurant and order in English? Instead, try to use Spanish whenever you can. If simply ordering a meal in Spanish is easy for you, try striking up a conversation with the waiter. Look for these simple opportunities to speak. Sometimes small efforts can go a long way not only with your language learning but also in making a friend.
Download an app
Ok, so if you really have no time to incorporate any Spanish learning into your schedule this year, why not at least download an app that will help you communicate with your patients. There are various ones that can help clarify doubts regarding a word used. Check out:
FOR MEDICAL SPANISH INSTRUCTORS:
Attend a conference or a workshop
- Language of Medicine conference (Bergamo, Italy) June 19-21
- Association of Languages for Specific Purposes (Stockholm, Italy) June 12-14
- Language with Specific Purposes Conference (Boulder, Colorado, United States): April 17th – 19th
- Asociación de la Enseñanza de Español como Lengua Extranjera (Madrid, Spain): Sept. 17-20
- American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (Panama City, Panama): July 8-11
Join Link-In group
There are many groups now on Linked-in for various professions which offer a space to share knowledge and ideas. Try:
- Spanish for Healthcare professionals (this is mostly professors, interpreters and authors of textbooks)
- Spanish Teaching
Find new people on twitter to follow
Try using the tags: #twitterele and #spanishteachers. You can also search medical spanish to find a couple of others.
Challenge yourself to try something new or simply strengthen you weaknesses
Never read a medically themed novel in Spanish? How about read through articles or watch videos in Spanish (or English) on less familiar topics on Medline Plus? Try something new that will challenge your current skills and keep you sharp. Any topics you feel you would not be comfortable discussing in class because your lack of knowledge? Find that weakness and seek to work towards strengthening it this year.
Hope to see you at one of the conferences this year!
To close, in writing this post I have realized that I do not familiar with as many of the available apps, podcasts nor textbook resources for medical Spanish as I would like to be. For this reason, my New Years resolution to you is to start testing some of them out in order to make the best recommendations. I will keep you posted on my progress!