Arab World English Journal
AWEJ Volume.3 Number 2. June 2012                                                                                              pp.4 – 30

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Changes in Awareness of Academic Reading Strategies among Arab Medical Students

Diane Malcolm
Arabian Gulf University
Manama, Bahrain

This study investigates reading strategies reported by Arabic-speaking medical students studying for the MD degree through the medium of English. As a follow-up to an earlier comparison of reading strategy awareness among students at beginning and more advanced years of study, this paper presents some quantitative results from a questionnaire administered to a longitudinal sample of students, in first year in the original study, now in their third year of medical school. In addition, some data from interviews with selected students from this group describe the changes they experienced in their academic reading practices over the years of study and what they attributed these changes to. In general, students in the higher years reported less dependence on strategies that involve translation and thinking in both Arabic and English, as well as greater use of the metacognitive strategies of skimming for information and predicting text content. The interview data also showed the growing influence of students’ envisaged futures as physicians in focusing their academic reading.n

Keywords: English for medicine; metacognition; Arabic-speaking medical students; reading strategies; English for academic purposes


Diane Malcolm is Head of the English Unit at Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain, where
she has taught English to first-year medical students for many years. Her areas of interest
include L2 reading, learner autonomy and self-access language learning.