In other words, my wife works hard while I goof off and enjoy myself taking photos. Actually, I did a little teaching as I met with some nurses twice a week. Their English skills were not all that good, so we did some informal conversations to help them get used to communicating in a new language.
This is techie stuff. I don’t care if the language spoken in her class is English – I still don’t understand what my wife and her students are talking about. The students are all fully trained physicians practicing in specialties such as oncology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology and hematology. All speak good conversational English but lack the expertise to communicate with other medical professionals in the technical language used in research papers and at conferences.
They immerse themselves in the words, but they also discuss context – professionals talking to professionals about diagnoses, treatments and situations. Why is it important they know English medical terms? Because research papers around the world are published in English. Because medical conferences around the world are done in English. Because visiting physicians from around the world communicate in English. The international language of medicine is English – and these doctors need to know English to grow professionally and stay current in their field.
They dig into the information with determination and gusto. This is the second time this doctor has taken the course – the more practice the better. She is married to an urologist and she will share as much with him as she can. The MGB’s teaching technique is to introduce the root word, do some pronunciation drills, show the accented syllables on the white board, then discuss any technical words that derive from the root. They often dive into a medical dictionary for more information.
The MGB teaches as a volunteer, working under the auspices of MEDRIX, a Seattle-based NGO that has been working in the Hue area for over ten years. Specializing in health issues and safe water, MEDRIX has proved to be a great organization with wonderful donors who provide the textbooks used in the class. The doctors do not handle the books like delicateglass – by the end of the course, the books are scribbled in, dog eared, and very well used. They remain in the doctor’s hands as a valuable resource long after the MBG and I have returned back to the US. This is the fifth time the MGB has taught the class – that’s a lot of doctors who have had their professional lives enriched because of MEDRIX.And they share in their own learning – if one doctor has trouble with a term, the others pitch in to help. The teacher chips in to be sure every question is answered, whether the question is spoken or implicit. The group may occasionally go down a rabbit hole exploring new ideas, but it’s all for meant for the expansion of knowledge.
After three weeks – and this is all in addition to their regular duties as doctors – the work culminates in a small graduation ceremony. The hospital and college both cooperate with MEDRIX to provide certificates of completion. The doctors continually express their appreciation for the course and express their thanks to an overly modest teacher. It was their idea to pose for an extra group photo to show off the MEDRIX pins.
And afterwards, they took teacher and photographer to dinner, but I was too busy eating to take any pictures.