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Article Dans Une Revue ESP NEWSLETTER Année : 2011

To Move or Not to Move. That is the question.


In the same way that scientists have to "Publish or perish!", medical students, residents and young doctors in France have to "Move or perish!". "La mobilité" (professional mobility) has become a key word in French medical circles. Thus, in 2003, a group of English teachers at the Dijon School of Medicine and at ENS-Lettres et Sciences Humaines (Lyon) conducted a mobility-related needs assessment to identify how we could help young professionals prepare for their stay abroad in English-speaking environments. To assess the actual needs of French professionals, we first contacted a cardiovascular surgeon, Eric Steinmetz, who had spent one year as a research fellow in St. Louis, Missouri. He told us how hard it had been for him to leave, unprepared, for the United States and gave us very valuable advice. He also became a co-author of our guide for French medical residents preparing to go abroad: Préparer son Séjour d'Étude ou de Recherche en Pays Anglophone. Input on needs also came from other medical colleagues who had been on mobility assignments. "Mobility" unified the chapters 1) in conversations between medical professionals sharing cultural and survival information and 2) in communication tasks tied to actual needs. One needs-based focus was on tasks critical to applying for a research position: writing letters of interest/ application and resumes. Medical colleagues had insisted on including basic survival skills needed by inexperienced visitors. Travel topics included the visa application process and making travel arrangements. For the overseas stay itself, included were survival tips ("Finding one's way", "Looking for accommodations", "Money matters"). Also included were some cultural aspects under "This is the news"and "That's entertainment". We also ended each chapter with a box called "Attention!" ("Watch out!"), highlighting certain needs of medical professionals. A few years later, colleagues at the Medical English Department decided to launch a new course for our third-year students as some spend six weeks abroad (in American, British, Indian or Australian hospitals) in a student mobility program. Our guide had been aimed at a readership of young researchers and professionals. Although it met their specific needs, it did not satisfy the needs of our medical students. Thus, in 2008, we launched a 30-hour course for meeting their needs. Not only did we adapt some of the content of our original guide to their needs, but we also developed new assessment-driven tasks that met their other potential needs. Our students wanted help in finding contacts abroad. They needed useful communication tips, e.g., how to answer an email rapidly and effectively and how to engage in a phone conversation with a native speaker of English. Other concerns included coping with such practical tasks as finding suitable rental accommodations, getting insured, or going through a customs check. Cultural tips were also high on their agenda. In their course, they are 1) expected to elaborate on a project using an informal Powerpoint presentation, and 2) encouraged to write a real resume and cover letter, which will probably be sent to a prospective hospital or a clinic in an English-speaking country. We invite them to contact their future hosts, either by email or by phone. We also encourage them to do Internet searches to better understand the culture and the institutions of the country they will visit. Practical communication tasks include how to greet someone, ask their way, open a bank account, etc. They also have to introduce themselves to a native speaker. These specific tasks are to enable them to be self-assured when they finally go abroad Today, more and more French medical students apply for a stay abroad (50 in 2010 compared to 25 in 2007). They seem ready to use English both as a cultural and linguistic tool to cope with life in English-speaking environments. For them, the key phrase is no longer "Move or perish!", but "Move and survive"!


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hal-00601972 , version 1 (21-06-2011)


  • HAL Id : hal-00601972 , version 1


Jean-Pierre Charpy. To Move or Not to Move. That is the question.. ESP NEWSLETTER, 2011, pp.3-4. ⟨hal-00601972⟩
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