Learning English for the English patient
THE growing influx of English-speaking people to France has sparked a rise in language classes for French doctors keen to avoid embarrassing linguistic and cultural faux pas.
A key part of the courses is teaching French doctors what is considered acceptable to patients from different national and social cultures. For example, by French standards, the British are considered more prudish. One doctor, whose practice is close to the Dordogne, an area with a high number of English people, said: ‘If I ask an Englishwoman to undress for an examination, I have to do it very carefully and make sure she understands exactly the reasons why it is necessary. Similarly, a male patient has to understand what is happening if it is necessary to examine his prostate. This is why it is vital to know the language well. The courses not only help us learn the correct medical terms but also the correct protocols of behaviour. They also help us explain what drugs we prescribe and how the patients should take them.
‘We practise doctor-patient role-playing, as an English teacher listens and corrects us. We also learn about medical and healthcare systems in the UK and other European countries. Press cuttings in English about medicine are discussed and there is a strong emphasis on grammar and vocabulary.
‘In our profession we are always taking medical training courses to update our skills and practices, but this makes a nice change.’
Dr Bonnel offers 11 courses throughout the year from a number of locations in France, while others are held in London and Malta.
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