English-Portuguese Medical Glossary: experiences on its implementation in an internationalist mission in Angola


English-Portuguese Medical Glossary: experiences on its implementation in an internationalist mission in Angola

Glosario médico inglés-portugués: experiencias sobre su aplicación en una misión internacionalista en Angola


Bárbara de la Caridad Teutor Rodríguez1*
Josefina María Pérez Fernández2
Marta de la Caridad Plasencia Romero3


1Villa Clara University of Medical Sciences. Cuba.
2Camagüey University of Medical Sciences. Cuba.
3La Habana University of Medical Sciences. Cuba.


*Author for correspondence. Email: blancarosap@infomed.sld.cu




International collaboration is a distinctive feature of the policy undertaken by the Cuban State and materialized by its Ministry of Public Health. The authors add their experiences acquired in the fulfillment of internationalist missions by Cuban professionals in the field of medical education, to others already published in EDUMECENTRO; this time they refer to the preparation of an English-Portuguese glossary with more than 600 medical terms, which constituted a strength for the quality of the teaching-learning process to be used as a teaching aid in the sister Republic of Angola.

MeSH: dictionary comunication, education, medical.


La colaboración internacional es un rasgo distintivo de la política emprendida por el Estado cubano y materializada por su Ministerio de Salud Pública. Los autores suman sus experiencias adquiridas en el cumplimiento de misiones internacionalistas por profesionales cubanos en el campo de la educación médica, a otras ya publicadas en EDUMECENTRO; esta vez refieren la confección de un glosario inglés-portugués con más de 600 términos médicos, el cual constituyó una fortaleza para la calidad del proceso docente educativo al ser utilizado como medio de enseñanza en la hermana República Popular de Angola.

DeSC: diccionario, comunicación, educación médica.



Submitted: 26/09/2018
Accepted: 29/01/2019



Cuba, globalizing power of solidarity and proletarian internationalism, since very close to the triumph of the revolution has sent its health professionals to meet the most humane of tasks: saving lives. This philosophy has been concretized since the first Cuban internationalist mission in 1960 before an earthquake that caused the death of hundreds of Chileans, where an emerging brigade traveled to provide their services in the midst of pain and misfortune, according to Marcia Cobas Ruiz, deputy minister of public health in a lecture offered and referenced in the Granma newspaper on April 27, 2018, on p. 5.

International collaboration is a distinctive feature of the policy undertaken by the Cuban State and materialized by its Ministry of Public Health;(1) not only is the care work shared among those in need of health, but also the experiences acquired in a medical education that gives prestige to training of these professionals in many parts of the world.

Among the countries with the greatest relations of brotherhood and collaboration, the People's Republic of Angola stands out; there not only health care is offered by consecrated Cuban professionals, but also its future health graduates are prepared in its territory in accordance with educational programs taught by teachers of this island, in five medical schools, where future Angolan doctors are trained.

The syllabuses of the subjects in these faculties coincide in a high percentage with those applied in Cuba. Although the contents have been adapted to the Angolan reality, the objectives have great similarity. The syllabus of the English subject is divided into two teaching cycles: general English, for the first three years of the syllabus, and English for specific purposes for the fourth and fifth years. The bibliography par excellence of this second cycle are the text books English through Medicine I and English through Medicine II respectively.

The teaching of English is a universal demand among professionals around the world; In the last decades this language has reached the category of international communication instrument in all the continents for certain historical and economic reasons. It is estimated that in the world, approximately a total of 1,800 million people have a level of «reasonable competence» in its use. Today English is recognized for its use in spheres of activities as diverse as science, technology, business, tourism, air traffic and diplomacy. To cite just a few examples, 85 % of international organizations have it as their official language, 80% of the information electronically stored is in English and more books and journals are published in that language than in any other.(2)

The above reasons, together with the fact that Angola is adjacent to English-speaking countries (Namibia to the south and Zambia to the east), it has an international ophthalmological center, and has several official languages, including Portuguese, which make the preparation of its professionals in the cited language.

Considering the need to consult the updated medical literature in English and as a contribution to the linguistic improvement of the Angolan health professionals, it was necessary to prepare an English-Portuguese medical glossary for the fifth year of the Medicine career, due to the lack of terminological dictionaries in English at the Faculty of Medicine of the Katyavala Baila University, in Benguela, Angola. In its conformation the students collaborated for their mastery of Portuguese in coordination with the Cuban teachers of English. It was an arduous task because the field of medical terminology is very broad and dynamic, and for English teachers, unaware of the medical sciences, it was difficult. Different printed and electronic bibliographies with the highest level of updating were consulted, textbooks as support for the syllabuses of the discipline and some glossaries known by the authors; and specialists for the necessary advice of the selection of terms and phrases most used by health personnel, in order to seek consensus among the various expressive forms in use.

The English-Portuguese medical glossary contains more than 600 useful terms for a quality work performance. Among the most significant experiences obtained with its implementation, are listed:

  • It was a teaching aid whose use led to proficiency in the English language among the students and Portuguese among the Cuban professors.
  • It raised the quality of the teaching-learning process.
  • It allowed knowledge updating in relation to the proposed terms.
  • Encouraged the motivation for the search for new terms, which were opportunely added to those found.
  • Established an interaction mechanism between Angolan students and Cuban professors that resulted in good relations of cooperation and friendship.
  • It raised the scientific-technical level of students by conceptualizing terms that previously had certain ambivalences.
  • Increased medical vocabulary.
  • Contributed to the textual understanding, and therefore, to the expansion of knowledge and the elevation of the cultural level in the students.
  • It facilitated the bilingual development of the contents taught in the in-service training

Summing up, the glossary was a useful didactic material for its impact among students and teachers, and an instrument to strengthen higher medical education, which will continue to be enriched and updated taking into account scientific and technical advances in the field of medicine.



1. Franco Pérez M. Una experiencia pedagógica desde la perspectiva de una misión internacionalista. EDUMECENTRO [Internet]. 2013 [citado 13/02/2017];5(3):[aprox. 12 p.]. Disponible en: http://scielo.sld.cu/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S2077-28742013000300009&lng=es

2. McKay S. English as an International Language. En: Mckay, Sandra Teaching English as an International Language. Oxford: University Press; 2007.



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interests.



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