SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

vol.99 issue7Rubella in South Africa: an impending Greek tragedy?Seroprevalence and HIV-associated factors among adults with severe mental illness: a vulnerable population author indexsubject indexarticles search
Home Pagealphabetic serial listing  

Services on Demand



Related links

  • On index processCited by Google
  • On index processSimilars in Google


SAMJ: South African Medical Journal

On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574


PFAFF, Colin  and  COUPER, Ian. How do doctors learn the spoken language of their patients?. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2009, vol.99, n.7, pp.520-522. ISSN 2078-5135.

BACKGROUND: In South Africa, many doctors consult across both a language and cultural barrier. If patients are to receive effective care, ways need to be found to bridge this communication barrier. METHODS: Qualitative individual interviews were conducted with seven doctors who had successfully learned the language of their patients, to determine their experiences and how they had succeeded. RESULTS: All seven doctors used a combination of methods to learn the language. Listening was found to be very important, as was being prepared to take a risk or appear to be foolish. The doctors found that it was important to try out the newly learned language on patients and additionally stressed that learning the language was also learning a culture. The importance of motivation in language learning, the value of being immersed in the language one is trying to learn, and the role of prior experience in language learning, were commonly mentioned. The doctors deeply valued the improved rapport and deeper relationships with patients that resulted from their language learning efforts.

        · text in English     · English ( pdf )


Creative Commons License All the contents of this journal, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License