Spanish for Healthcare Practitioners

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Course Information
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 

This course is designed develop students’ professional studies in the health care area while simultaneously preparing them to work in cross-cultural settings where effective communicative Spanish skills play a crucial role. The emphasis of this course is placed both on the linguistic aspects and also on the development of students’ cultural competence and understanding. Students will learn about the Chilean health system and non-traditional health care practices while expanding their medical vocabulary.

Method of presentation: 

Lectures and discussions of assigned readings. Course also includes listening and audiovisual activities, debates and role plays to enhance students’ understanding of medical vocabulary. The course begins with an intensive 8 hour orientation during the first week.

Required work and form of assessment: 

Oral presentations 20%;
written essays and reading comprehension 20%;
midterm test 20%;
final oral exam 20%; and
final written exam 20%.


Session 1: Orientation
Discussion includes: cultural competence, linguistic and cultural differences, and familiarization with local hospitals and clinics.
-  Use of imperatives for direction and instruction
-  Contrast between preterite and imperfect
-  Imperative mood
-  Accidental use of ‘se’

Session 2: Daily routines and eating habits
Discussion includes: medical care professions and food, meals and nutrition.
-  Review concepts of ‘ser’ and ‘estar’
-  Present indicative mood
-  Direct and indirect objects

Session 3: Public and private hospital care systems
Discussion includes: Chilean hospitals and health care centers (premises and facilities)
-  Description of people and places
-  Comparative adjectives

Session 4: In the doctor’s office
Discussion includes: doctor/patient relationships, medical tools and equipment, medical terminology. Also includes student role-play activities.
-  Expressing symptoms
-  Descriptive adjectives
-  Use of reflexive verb structures
-  Human body: anatomical vocabulary

Session 5: Native medicine: The non-traditional health care provider
Discussion includes: Chilean native peoples: the Mapuche tribe.
-  Use of present tense for future arrangements
-  Giving instructions using imperative mood (formally and informally)

Session 6: Accidents and emergencies
Discussion includes: handling accidents and injuries in a medical setting. WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT DUE: comparative essay on health care providers
-  Accidental use of reflexive constructions

Session 7: Poverty and wealth in Chile
Discussion includes: Chilean public and private health care systems
-  Contrast between preterite and imperfective

Session 8: Alcoholism
-  Preterite and imperfect
-  Vocabulary on emotions and feelings

Session 9: Drug addiction
Discussion includes: drug addiction in Latin America and related illnesses, treatment.
-  Final review of preterite and imperfect

Session 10: Smoking
-  Use of prepositions ‘por’ and ‘para’
-  Final review before midterm exam

Session 11: MIDTERM EXAM

Session 12: Addictions and effectiveness of treatments
-  Final review of preterite and imperfect

Session 13: Accidents and emergencies in the home
Oral presentation
-  Subjunctive mood in present
-  Illnesses, medications and remedies

Session 14: CPR and First-Aid
-  Review of present subjunctive mood
-  Verbs with prepositions

Session 15: Public and private hospital emergencies
-  Introduction to the imperfect subjunctive
-  Use of indefinite words and expressions

Session 16: Chilean legends
Discussion includes: Chilean legends and native beliefs pertaining to medical care, illnesses, and treatment.
-  Imperfect subjunctive

Session 16: Women’s role in Latin America and beliefs and health care.
-  Imperfect subjunctive
-  Intra-familiar voice

Session 17: Traditional medicine vs. native practices
-Students participate in a debate discussing both native and traditional medical practices, including diagnoses, treatments and prescriptions.
-  Imperfect subjunctive


Required readings: 

Aragonés, Luis y R. Palencia (2005). Gramática de Uso del Español. Teoría y práctica. Ediciones sm. Madrid

García Fernández, Nieves y J. Sánchez Lobato (1994). Español 2000. Nivel: Elemental y avanzado. Madrid. Sociedad española de Librería.

Ellis, Martín y R. Martín. (1995). Aventura. Niveles 2, 3. Hodder and Stoughton. Ltd.

Martín, Ernesto N. Sans (1997) Gente. Curso de Español para extranjeros. Libros por nivel 2, 3 Barcelona. Difusión.

Terrel D., Tracy y M. Andrade, et al. (1998). Dos mundos. McGraw–Hill Higher Education.

Course reading also includes a dossier prepared by the instructor which includes Spanish scientific journals, health and medical magazines, and other current pedagogical and relevant sources.