‘We feel stupid and we shouldn’t.’ Towards developing a communication support system for Cuban-trained medical students

Jessica Gasiorek, Kris van de Poel


This article presents a case study of a small group of South African medical students who have returned to South Africa after six years of medical education in Cuba, where they were trained in a different language (Spanish) and medical system (Cuban) from what they will ultimately practice in as South African doctors. This study sought to better understand the linguistic, cultural, and communicative challenges that this group faced upon returning to South Africa, with the ultimate goal of creating materials to support the students’ language learning in the clinical domain.  The researchers found that students reported considerable difficulties with (re-)integrating into South African culture and clinical contexts; specific issues included encountering different types of medical issues in South Africa compared to Cuba and difficulty in understanding and using medical terminology in English and Afrikaans. This case study concludes with specific recommendations for developing learning materials that address these students’ unique linguistic and communicative needs.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5785/30-1-571


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