Title Towards European Language Learning for MEdical professionals
Project Number 517937 - LLP-1-2011-1-UK-LEONARDO-LMP
Project Type Development of Innovation
Country EU-Centralised Projects
Academics from the University of Wolverhampton have joined forces with partners from the NHS West Midlands Workforce Deanery and universities and healthcare services in Spain and Germany for the TELL-ME project.
The initiative will provide self-study material for English, Spanish and German which uses vocabulary specifically aimed at medics.
The package involves a range of products including work-related language exercises, self-assessment tools and an interactive dictionary of key vocabulary and concepts. These will be tested out on trainees by the medical partners and disseminated to key national medical policy makers.
A key European Union (EU) priority is to create ways to aid citizens’ mobility. Thus the EU allows and encourages citizens to move freely in the EU. The promotion of easy access to high quality healthcare and enhancing cross-border health care are priorities currently for discussion in the European Parliament. With all the benefits of this mobility, it is still vital to keep a high standard of medical treatment. Crucial in providing this level of treatment is high-quality doctor-patient communication. Studies show that if patients misunderstand health-related issues, serious implications can result as well as increased healthcare costs. The problem is greater when there is a language barrier. This must be removed to ensure more effective health services. We aim to do this in this project by teaching vocationally-specific languages to healthcare professionals and helping them to communicate at work.
The languages targeted by the project, English, Spanish and German, are among the 5 most spoken languages in Europe, so patients from one EU country seeking medical treatment in another will probably understand one of them. However, resources are lacking for teaching proper medical staff-to-patient communication. So our project provides self-study material for Medical English, Spanish and German aimed specifically for medics. The package involves a range of products including work-related language exercises, self-assessment tools and an interactive dictionary of key vocabulary and concepts. These will be tested out on trainees by the medical partners and disseminated to key national medical policy makers.
Our project can have an influence throughout the EU, helping both native speakers working in their own lands and also medical professionals from other EU countries who wish to work in another EU country.
Our consortium is aware that a key priority of the European Union (EU) is to create conditions to aid its citizens’ mobility . This includes encouraging both medical professionals and patients to move freely to other EU states . A further key priority under discussion in the EU parliament  is easy access to high quality healthcare and its enhancement across borders. To ensure more effective health services, the language barrier must be removed. We feel the best way to do this is to teach languages to medical professionals (i.e. doctors and nurses).
According to OECD statistics 33% of doctors in Britain and 12.6% of doctors in Germany are from other countries. In Germany particularly there is major high level political discussion about the shortage of doctors, with the gap being filled by medical staff from Eastern Europe. Along with the mobility of medical professionals, there is a high number of EU citizens seeking treatment in EU countries other than their own. EU mobility regulations allow patients free choice of country for medical treatment and many EU citizens are attracted by perceived lower costs or better healthcare standards in other countries. Trends show that movement for medical purposes has increased overall, and particularly from Eastern European towards Western European countries. Very importantly too, some EU citizens live long-term in other countries without speaking the host country’s language (e.g. British or Germans living in Spain) and need to seek local medical help. The Spanish Institute of Statistics shows British and German citizens forming significant minorities in Spain (94.860 residents, 6%, and 78.017, 5% of total foreign residents respectively). In addition, around 40 million tourists visit Spain every year.
In light of the above it is vital to maintain a high standard of medical treatment. A crucial requirement for this is clear doctor-patient communication. Studies show that if patients fail to comprehend medical staff, serious implications, such as aggravated health problems and increased healthcare cost , can result. This problem is worsened when patients and doctors come from different language backgrounds. It is thus critically important to minimise the language barriers wherever possible and this is where our tri-lingual consortium can have most effect.
English, Spanish and German are amongst the most spoken languages in Europe . Thus it is likely that patients from one EU member state seeking medical treatment in another will speak or understand one of these. However, there is a lack of resources to teach efficient communication between patients and medics. To combat this we will provide a fully targeted package. This includes learning materials for Medical English, Spanish and German aimed both at medical staff already in the other countries or undertaking cross-border mobility. The learning process will be supported by computer-aided tools based on innovative Natural Language Processing techniques which is a distinct novelty of the project proposed. The course will feature tools and resources which will in particular facilitate the language communication process of medical staff with colleagues and patients in real contexts.
 Health-EU. The Public Health Portal of the European Union. Mobility in Europe.[Accessed 29th October 2010]. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/health-eu/care_for_me/mobility_in_europe/index_en.htm
 European Parliament. Cross-border health care - Françoise Grossetête MEP explains ahead of vote. [online]. [Accessed 29th October 2010]. Available at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/public/story_page/066-89972-298-10-44-911-20101025STO89929-2010-25-10-2010/default_en.htm
 Gondy Leroy, Stephen Helmreich, James R. Cowie, "The Effects of Linguistic Features and Evaluation Perspective on Perceived Difficulty of Medical Text," Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, pp. 1-10, 2010 43rd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, 2010
 No Author (2006) Europeans and Their Languages [online]. [Accessed 29th October 2010]. Available at: <http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/archives/ebs/ebs_243_en.pdf>.
Access for disadvantaged
Human Health and Social Work Activities
Professional, Scientific and Technical Activities
material for open learning
open and distance learning
Product information We aim to devise a complete set of learning materials and support tools for teaching vocationally relevant English, Spanish or German to health professionals, helping their communication. TELL ME will be the first project to incorporate new language learning methodology into a coherent environment. It provides users with access to personalised learning material in various forms including video, audio, corpora, and a dictionary, thanks to the interactive exercises that highlight gaps in learner knowledge. The exercises are, in turn, efficiently semi-automatically generated using pioneering exercise generation engines incorporating progressive NLP technology.