Teaching a Medical English CLIL Course with Vocabulary Learning Strategies Instruction in Japan
Keywords: Content and language integrated learning (CLIL), content-based instruction (CBI), curriculum design, Japanese university, medical English, vocabulary learning strategies
Philip Shigeo Brown
Konan Women’s University
Philip Shigeo Brown is a lecturer and learning advisor in the Department of English Language and Culture, Konan Women’s University, Japan, and tutor on the University of Birmingham’s distance MA TEFL/SL program. He has taught in various contexts in Japan since 2001. His principle interests include learner autonomy, learning strategies, vocabulary, CBI, CLIL, critical thinking and global issues.
This article describes teaching a medical English content and language integrated learning (CLIL) course with vocabulary learning strategies instruction for first-year students at a medical university in Tokyo over a period of three years. Whilst students faced a demanding course of study, student feedback highlights the benefits of relevant, interesting, and motivating content that will serve them in the future as doctors, in addition to the development of communicative skills and vocabulary learning strategies (VLS) to help tackle the challenges of learning medical English.
Despite the limitations of small-scale classroom-based research, it is hoped that this study may shed light on the medical English CLIL course design and implementation, including the potential benefits of integrating VLS instruction. In addition to employing level-appropriate materials and teaching approaches to support learners’ language development and understanding of medical content, there is also a need for teachers to continually develop their professional knowledge and skills. Collaboration between language teachers and healthcare professionals helps to ensure course aims and objectives reflect the needs of healthcare workers (HCW) while greater coordination within institutions might help to integrate CLIL courses into the wider curriculum. However, the assessment of medical English CLIL courses remain in their infancy and, together with curriculum development, they may benefit from large-scale innovation and research at a national level, although there are important lessons to be learned from both the CLIL and content-based learning (CBI) literature.
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