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English curriculum for medical students in the People's Republic of China

Xian-Min Zhuo, University of Massachusetts Amherst


According to Chinese government's policy, all students attending medical universities and colleges are required to study English for two- or two-and-a half years of their five- or six-year program. However, an English curriculum especially designed for medical students has never been developed. Currently, the English curriculum for science and technology (ECST) is being used in medical schools. The ECST is not based on any needs assessment of medical students, medical professionals, and medical professors, and lacks credibility. Without an adequate curriculum, the available English courses for medical students are irrelevant and ineffective. This study discussed and analyzed the problems relating to the English curriculum in medical schools and designed a relevant English curriculum for medical students. In doing so, the study utilized the following research procedure: (1) review of government's policy; (2) review of literature in English for specific purposes and curriculum development; (3) review of the current English curriculum for science and technology (ECST); (4) review of medical English textbooks; (5) review of English textbooks for Chinese secondary school students; and (6) field observation. Although there are no specific figures available, a growing number of Chinese medical students have been studying in English-speaking countries for the past decade. Considering that the Chinese government is likely to maintain its "open door" policy, students will continue to participate in advanced studies overseas. As part of their academic work, they are required to write papers in English. This strongly suggests that there is a need to design an English writing curriculum to help students develop needed writing skills in the English language. The curriculum developed in this study is for medical students who specifically need to improve their English writing skills in medical science. Based on the students' needs, goals and objectives were developed, and a syllabus was specified, teacher-training, materials and methods, as well as evaluation procedures were also defined. The curriculum is relevant for Chinese medical students, however, its effectiveness and sufficiency need to be field-tested and appropriate modifications must be made.

Subject Area

Language arts|Health education

Recommended Citation

Zhuo, Xian-Min, "English curriculum for medical students in the People's Republic of China" (1989). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8917428.