The role of translation in undergraduate medical English instruction

METM 06, Barcelona
27-28 October 2006

Sofija Micic
Saturday 28, 16:00-17:10, Room 2

Medical English instruction at Belgrade University School of Medicine is approaching its 20th anniversary. Throughout the years, it has changed with educational reforms Serbia has experienced.

English is taught at the first and second year as compulsory, and at the third, fourth and fifth years as an elective subject. Until educational reforms in 2004, students took a written/oral exam after the second year and it was marked. Now they write a test after the first and second year (without oral part) and it is descriptively assessed (Pass/Fail).

Until 2000, the exam included translation from English (source) and into English (target). This task was then excluded from assessment and replaced by reading comprehension. Classes are mostly in English, however, and translation is still a part of the course and considered necessary for the following reasons: 1) international scientific English is the main global language of scientific publication; 2) it has a specific rhetorical structure; 3) it is lexically peculiar with specialised vocabulary, subtechnical lexicon and syntactical characteristics such as complex noun compounds. The last two points are particularly important: future doctors must be introduced to different medical genres and structural difference between English and Serbian makes it more challenging to translate texts successfully. Recognizing different features through translation fosters proficiency in Medical English.

Sofija Micic, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of English, School of Medicine, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia, and a recent Fulbright Scholar in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA (2004/05). She is the author of numerous articles in specialized journals, two books and a textbook for medical students, the product of her comprehensive work in English for Medical Academic Purposes instruction reforms in Belgrade. She is currently working on a bilingual English-Serbian/Serbian-English medical dictionary.