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Speaking of languages & med schools... how about Arabic?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by unsung, Apr 16, 2007.

  1. unsung

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    I am not Middle Eastern. But, I have always had an interest in Arabic culture, so I took Arabic in college and spent some time in the Middle East studying Arabic. I am still studying Arabic and hope to keep it up until I am decently fluent. It's one of my main EC activities.

    Is this something that will be remotely useful to me during the application process to medical school?

    Since I HAVE invested a fair amount of time and energy into the endeavor of learning this language, I figure I'll probably end up addressing my interest in one way or another. (It's purely an EC interest though, as my undergrad/grad work was in bio & psych, respectively.) Just wondering whether there's a way I could do this to make it more relevant to medical school?

    (Way WAY into the future, I would love to work in the Middle East with an organization such as Doctors without Borders... but I'm not sure whether this desire is relevant to getting admitted to medical school in the first place.)
    -------------------

    Edit: forgot to mention one thing I'm a tad concerned about. Some folks have advised me NOT to mention the Arabic interest at all, due to present suspicion towards Muslims/Arabs in general.

    On one hand, my immediate reaction is like- oh come on, most adcoms probably won't be part of that prejudiced demographic, right? Otoh, I wonder if there may be some truth to the advice I've been given. Just recently, two Asian men were kicked off of a UK flight for speaking in Arabic to each other, because PASSENGERS refused to board the plane with them! The men ended up boarding a later flight without problems.

    Thoughts?
     
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  3. SupergreenMnM

    SupergreenMnM Peanut, not chocolate
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    I suppose as useful as french, hindi, chinese, dutch, etc. It shows you are unique in some way, even if arabic might not be the most useful here. Now if you had gone to the ME and done some volunteer work that would be a significant ec. I would weave it in more to the what you want to do with your life part...i'm too tired to offer much more, sorry.
     
  4. Flopotomist

    Flopotomist I love the Chicago USPS
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    (sound it out, I can't type) Ahlan. Fi loyola Ujid ithnain minna alletti darast fi sharq al awset. Aidan, ujid ithnain min alsharq al awset. Ma araft itha hatha subub ihna hina, walakin hatha al hi hinna.
     
  5. unsung

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    ahlan! ashAoru bi saeeda tArifu at-Tulaab min alsharq al awset yadrusoona fi madrassatuke. koontu darast fii chicago! saabhooth akthar info ala loyola. kaifa tuhib loyola?
     
  6. armybound

    armybound urologist.
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    I think it will help. What happens when you get an Arabic patient in and no one knows the language but you? I don't think you'll get accepted simply because of it, but it's something unique that could come in useful at some point.
     
  7. Asianagirl

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    Nope, not useful. Unless you want to be an interpreter in IRaq :laugh:
    Also, Chinese, Hinidi, German, French, Japanese, etc aren't useful. Only Spanish and dare I say, "Ebonics" are useful. Remember, most med schools are looking for people that work with these people in inner city areas.
     
  8. Kraazy

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    I'm really hoping you were kidding on the ebonics. And that would make it a tasteless unfunny joke.

    In any case, any language can be useful at some point; you never know what will happen. As a volunteer I once ran into a patient who spoke only arabic, and could not communicate with anyone without a family member or interpreter present. That being said there is a greater proportion of people speaking only spanish and no english than people speaking only other languages. In some areas, though there are "niche" languages (i.e. french in DC, portuguese in MA, hmong in MN) that would be invaluable in community health care.
     
  9. baylormed

    baylormed On the Search
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    It is tastless and unfunny, but in some ways unfortunately true.

    I worked at an office for a while answering the phones, and most of the employees there spoke what we may call "ebonics". More than 90% of my time was spent asking the employees on the phone to repeat themselves or to spell things/names out because I couldn't understand what they were saying.
     
  10. LyaZ198

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    I'm middle-eastern, and to my parents chagrin I refuse to play it down or hide it in my applications. They were really worried that it might be used against me, if not overtly.. then maybe subconsciously. In any case, I checked arabic as a second language, spoke about my volunteer experience in the M.E. (even if you didn't do hospital volunteer work, you can def. speak about the diff. in health care.. great topic). It might not be the mooost useful language in medicine, but it's certainly more useful than english alone. Also, you never know the direction medicine will take by the time you become a physician... maybe you'll choose to work abroad in the middle east. You certainly get paid more, no Malpractice insurance taking a 1/3 of your pay check, aaand they give you a villa.. but I digress.
    Now that being said, I DO feel that at one interview, it worked against me. But I think that was more being arab than speaking the language. So you should be fine.
     
  11. Flopotomist

    Flopotomist I love the Chicago USPS
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    The advantages it gave me in the application cycle -

    1. It made me "different" so hopefully adcoms remembered me
    2. It gave me something to talk about in my interview so I didn't have to spend time answering hard or tricky questions.

    I would say though that as far as translation of medical stuff goes, it is almost impossible for a non-native. The words used are just so varied by region, and education level that it can be very very hard to translate.

    My worst translation moment - trying to describe what a fibroid mass was to a woman from a smaller village in Egypt. Ugh.
     
  12. NonTradMed

    NonTradMed Perpetual Student
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    This will no more stigmatize you than speaking Russian did back in the days of the Cold War. It's a useful language to know and even nativist bigots can differentiate between being 'the enemy' and learning about the 'enemy'.

    I am a native Chinese speaker and (political) anti-Chinese sentiments have come and gone, but I've always put down that I'm a fluent speaker and it's always gotten a postive response.

    Rule of thumb is, people who are bigots against you racially are going to hate you anyway. However, there are xenophobes who won't hold it against you if you can speak the language of a country they despise as long as they think you are wholly "American"...i.e speak with an American accent, act American etc.

    My parents say they have instances of American bigotry while I relatively few problems in this area. The difference is that my parents have an accent and I do not. I think the accent just turns certain people off.

    As long as you can show that you are nonArab/Muslim who just knows arabic very well, you probably won't have too much problems with people who dislike Muslims or Arabs.
     
  13. LyaZ198

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    I second that accent point.

    Lately I've sorta been wanting one haha.. oh Huge Laurie -sigh- :rolleyes:
     
  14. ssquared

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    From a purely acadmic standpoint, learning Arabic is very impressive. It's a difficult language, and I think most people would see that and respect you for trying to learn it. I would give anybody who learned difficult languages (esp those with different alphabets) the same credit.

    And if an ADCOM rejected you because they're afraid of Muslims or Arabs, they're idiots. Would you want to attend a school that actively practices such discrimination?

    I think that the language could come in handy someday. My best friend in elementary school had her extended family living with her, and almost none of them spoke any English, they spoke Arabic. And they would have loved to have you as a doctor!

    (plus, on a totally unrelated sidenote, the CIA and FBI would love to have you...so if the whole med school thing doesn't work out, keep them in mind :p )
     
  15. SupergreenMnM

    SupergreenMnM Peanut, not chocolate
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    If anything, being a muslim/arab (or someone thinking you are) is an advantage as schools like to have diversity in that regard as well. (at least mine does)
     
  16. Felzor

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    اريد السفر الى المغرب في الشتاء ولكن امي ليس سعيدة. انا يهودي
     
  17. SupergreenMnM

    SupergreenMnM Peanut, not chocolate
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    Je pense qu'il ne parle pas anglais :rolleyes:
     
  18. baylormed

    baylormed On the Search
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    Ya que estamos presumiendo, dejádme introducir algo en Español por aqui. Si vosotros podéis, yo también. :D
     
  19. SupergreenMnM

    SupergreenMnM Peanut, not chocolate
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    drat, I can't find how to do hindi charactors. Just as well, i'd probably misspell everything anyways :(
     
  20. xylem29

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    I met a residency program admin on a train and she told me that her program specifically recruits residents who can speak a 2nd language for their outreach programs - chinese was one of them. this school/hospital is in NYC....I think any 2nd language is quite useful, and even if there is not much opportunity to use it in your city, well - that's a good enough excuse to go travelling imo.
     
  21. shadoctor

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    To the OP, I dont think the arabic you learn in class will be easily understood by patients. They usually teach "Standard Arabic" or something like that in most schools and thats not the spoken arabic that is used. Furthermore, the dialect of the patient (depending on country) will make it even more challenging. As a native speaker myself, I have trouble with people from other arabic-speaking countries.

    As for Flopotomist, ana mish 3aref ino inte ibtehkee 3arabi! fee 3aba kteer ibchicago?? aw loyola?

    As for interviews, in 7 of them, arabic never came up. The fact that I speak spanish did come up often, but never arabic.
     
  22. Felzor

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    I second that. As a pre-med, arabic is complete useless. They teach modern standard arabic, but each country has their own dialect. Words like "What" and "Yes" change depending on what region. I can't even imagine what medical vocabulary must be like.

    But it looks good for adcoms maybe?
     
  23. unsung

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    Il dit que il veut voyager au Maroque, mais son mere ne lui veux pas. (I hope that's right!)

    C'est droll, parce que du temps en temps pendant j'etudie comment vous dites "arabic", je pensais le mot en francais, et du temps en temps pendant je veux le mot en francais, je pensais le mot en "arabic"...:laugh:
     
  24. unsung

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    Yeah, I think I'm a long way from being able to pick up specialized medical vocabulary (there are a million different words for things like "table" or "window"!). But MSA is still decent for regular communication with people from different regions, as they all have their own dialects, but just about everyone will understand you if you're speaking MSA. Although, since it's the equivalent of "Shakespearean English", it may sound a little odd.
     
  25. GreenShirt

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    I don't think language abilities are a deciding factor in med school admissions. Speaking another language is an extra talent, like playing a musical instrument. It shows the committee that you've dedicated some of your time to non-pre med activities and gained a skill. I doubt they're going to make a judgment call on the "usefulness" of the language (residency program might), such as we want student B b/c they speak Spanish and that's more useful than Arabic.
     
  26. unsung

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    To be best understood by patients, which dialect would you suggest learning? I learned a bit of "Sana'ani" in Yemen... which is supposed to be one of the most unintelligible dialects.. lol

    Perhaps Egyptian?
     
  27. postbacker

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    Well said - you have summed it up just right!
     
  28. Meeher

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    I am Middle Eastern and know Arabic and I found that most of the schools didn't care one way or the other. However, some schools liked the fact that I spoke a second language, especially one of the harder ones like Arabic, but I don't think it affected my admissions decisions much. About the stigma, I put down MSA and Arabic and still got plenty of interviews and acceptances. I don't think any school openly discriminated against me. At a few of my interviews, we spoke at lengths on Muslim stigma after 9/11, and they all went fine--the interviewers were really interested. I wouldn't OVER-EXPRESS it though (to the point that they'll think you want to be accepted JUST for that to add diversity)...I played it off as part of my character, nothing more.
     
  29. Mayday

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  30. nycfella

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    ﻦﺴﺤﺃ ﻦﻤﻴﻠﺃ
     
  31. nycfella

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    WTF? :thumbdown:
     
  32. epigastric

    epigastric Stewart U. Class of '11
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    What? While Spanish is definitely the most useful second language in NYC, Chinese and Russian are close follow-ups, especially with hospitals/doctors in the outer boroughs. Any second language will come in handy at an NYC hospital (just see how long it takes you to find a translator). I think you can also safely generalize this usefulness to DC, Boston, Chicago and LA at a minimum.
     
  33. Mayday

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    I know Seattle has a large Japanese, Korean, Hispanic, Russian, Middle Eastern, Laotian, and Indian (People from India, not Native Americans - although we have those too) population.
     
  34. jochi1543

    jochi1543 President, Gunner Central
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    I second that point that speaking a language doesn't necessarily mean you will be able to successfully communicate medical terms to a patient. I haven't used my native language too much since age 16 (been living in North America away from my family), and I couldn't possibly start discussing some anatomy/physio stuff in it right now. "Tienes sangria in tu vagina," haha!
     
  35. baylormed

    baylormed On the Search
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    Hey! Sangria is meant to be drunk!

    (I think you meant "sangre"....never mind, I got a good chuckle out of that :laugh: )
     
  36. jochi1543

    jochi1543 President, Gunner Central
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    Yeah, that was the joke, genius...haha.:p

    It's from a med student comic, I thought everyone on this forum has seen it. I'll look it up for you one day when I have more time.
     
  37. KeyzerSoze

    KeyzerSoze Scrambled Member
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    Am I missing something?
     
  38. aliziry

    aliziry Je suis le Roi de Rein
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    Learn Masri, nearly ever Arabic speaker knows it becuase of Egyptian cinema. Besides it bloody awesome
     
  39. UMP

    UMP Recovered Under-Achiever
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    Dearborn, Michigan outside of Detroit has 30,000 Arab-Americans... about a third of the city. Oakwood Hospital serves the city, which is affiliated with Wayne State, and they have residency programs there, too.
     
  40. unsung

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    Wasn't meant to be offensive. I was told this by several Yemenis! They acknowledge this themselves!
     
  41. LyaZ198

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    It isn't offensive. It's well known that Egyptian IS the most readily understood language by nearly all arabic speakers simply because of the early spread of egyptian cinema and television, as someone already pointed out. That doesn't mean that standard arabic isn't. I wouldn't say it's comparable to Shakespearean, it's much easier and everyone learns Proper arabic in school no matter their dialect. Also, that's the form of arabic used in Quran, so my point is that you will be understood. There may be tens of ways to say yes, but everyone understand "Na'am".
    Yamani dialect isn't the easiest to understand because not a lot of people encounter yamanis. Shami is an easy dialect to learn and easy to understand, khaleeji is a bit harder, but still more widespread than Yamani.
     
  42. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Yeah, talking about "useful second languages" is pointless without geographic context. Spanish is pretty ubiquitous nationally, but lots of other languages are extremely useful, depending on where you are. A bit of Hmong would help in parts of Wisconsin, but not in Miami, while Cantonese is huge in SF but probably not in the Kansas City.
     
  43. TMP-SMX

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    Arabic is useful around Detroit. Will it help you get in at Wayne? Probably not much if at all.
     

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