In this article, we examine the development of medical English materials, using an adapted communicative competence model, built from Celce-Murcia, Dornyei and Thurrell’s (1995) ideas. Two new competences have been added: critical competence and field competence. In this paper, with its focus on English for Medical Purposes (EMP), critical competence is regarded as a subset of field competence. In a previous article (Davies, 2015), discourse competence and field competence were considered to be overarching competences that contained within them strategic competence, actional competence, sociocultural competence, and linguistic competence.
This article forms part of a project to develop teaching materials, word lists, and corpora for students on a medical course at a national university, which has been documented in a previous article (Fraser, Davies & Tatsukawa, 2015). It is a case study, in which conceptual ideas have developed in the process of planning, designing, and teaching a course to third-year medical students. We analyse medical English materials created specifically for students on the course.
In reflecting on the creation of teaching materials, a key issue is the relationship between field competence, in this case medical competence, and discourse competence in English. We consider how we have drawn on field knowledge through interaction with doctors and the use of reliable written medical sources, such as reference books and webpages. We also examine our approach to discourse, competence with reference to Widdowson’s (1978) simple accounts, and linguistic competence in the form of vocabulary tasks. Finally, we consider whether actional, strategic and sociocultural competence are sufficiently addressed in the design of the materials; we argue that the materials only address these in a minor way because students are essentially classroom-based in the early years of their studies, and that the need to address these competences more fully will occur in later courses and course materials.