Almost a third of UBC medical students are ESL – Four most commonly spoken first languages are Cantonese, Mandarin, Farsi and Punjabi. By Pamela Fayerman, Vancouver SunApril 17, 2009
Nearly 60 per cent of first- and second-year University of B.C. medical students speak at least one other language besides English, and nearly a third speak English as a second language.
Nearly a quarter of students can speak French, but the four most common first languages are Cantonese, Mandarin, Farsi and Punjabi.
The medical school demographics mirror that of B.C.’s general population, a quarter of which is made up of visible minorities, according to a survey of students.
“Despite the clearly demonstrated ability and interest, a majority of students who were fluent in a non-English language did not consider themselves proficient enough to communicate with a patient in that language,” according to the study by students Tung Siu, Mandeep Mann, Birinder Mangat and Brock Rawstron. Their co-author and supervisor was Shafik Dharamsi, an assistant professor in the department of family practice.
The study makes it clear that multilingual, ethnically diverse students are open to taking courses or workshops that would help them learn medical terminology in other languages so they can safely use their language skills.
Shafik Dharamsi, PhD
Assistant Professor, Lead Faculty, Community Liaison for Integrating Study & Service (CLISS)
Department of Family Practice. Faculty of Medicine
Associate Director UBC Centre for International Health College of Health Disciplines
Peter Wall Early Career Scholar