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Evaluation of medical translation training within kazakhstan higher education

The need for English as a professional language in medicine is nowadays beyond doubt. Scientific literature and the internet are just two examples that reveal the overriding necessity for understanding and expressing ourselves in written and spoken English. The formal teaching of English in the Republic of Kazakhstan, overloaded to excess with theoretical content, does not enable us to keep in touch, using English as a common language, with other professionals abroad, and thus development opportunities are continually wasted.

Many interns and staff members withdrew from the formal learning of English a long time ago, and English has become an everlasting failed subject. Only the most determined have continued studying, with more tenacity than method, but unfortunately, in most cases with little if any success. Many have desisted from attending, if indeed they ever tried to attend, internal courses and congresses, and among the reduced group of those who dare, participation is very limited on most occasions. To understand the reasons of such situation, we have to consider the history of health system in Kazakhstan from the time of its gaining independence.

The early years of independence have had a disastrous effect on public health. In the nineteen eighties, Kazakhstan had an extensively developed public health system that delivered at least basic care without charge even to very remote communities. By nineteen ninety-three, however, Kazakhstan rated below average or lower among the former Soviet republics in medical system, sanitation, medical industry, medical research and development, and pharmaceutical supply. In 1994 the health system had twenty-nine doctors per one thousand people and 86.7 other medical personnel per one thousand. There were one thousand eight hundred and five hospitals in the republic, with seventy-six beds per one thousand. There were three thousand one hundred and twenty-nine general health clinics and one thousand eight hundred twenty-six gynecological and pediatric clinics. Conditions and services at these facilities varied widely; it was not uncommon, for example, for rural clinics and hospitals to be without running water.

Private medical practice is permitted in general medicine and in some specialized fields; private surgical practice is forbidden, as is private treatment of cancer, tuberculosis, venereal disease, pregnancy, and infectious diseases. Some types of private practice have been introduced directly into the state clinics, creating a confusing situation in which identical procedures are performed by the same personnel, some for state fees and others for higher private fees. A substantial unofficial market has developed in the distribution of hospital supplies; patients often are expected to pay for the bandages, anesthesia, and other materials and services required for the "free" treatment received at medical facilities. Kazakhstan has no system of medical insurance.

Kazakhstan has negotiated some international agreements to improve health care. In nineteen ninety-two an association of scientific organizations specializing in contagious diseases established its headquarters in Almaty. The group, which includes doctors and technicians from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, conducts joint research with scientists in China, Mongolia, and Vietnam. A nineteen ninety-five medical cooperation agreement between the Kazakhstani and Iranian ministries of health called for exchanges of medical students and experts, joint research projects, exchanges of information on the latest medical advances (with an emphasis on contagious diseases), and mutual natural-disaster assistance.

As we can see throughout the last decade the situation has been gradually changing. Nowadays, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan in every possible ways emphasizes the importance of development of health care in Kazakhstan as well as building friendly and efficient international relationship in terms of medicine. In his latest address towards the people of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the seventeenth of January two thousand fourteen, the President highlighted that according to his plans, affirming a healthy life style and development of medicine will enable the citizens of Kazakhstan to increase lifetime up to 80 years and even older. Kazakhstan must become one of the leading Eurasian centers of medical tourism. It is also connected with completion of innovative national educational system formation. Kazakhstan should become one of the safest and most comfortable countries to live in. We need to boost the efficiency of traditional extractive industries, since they are our natural competitive privilege.

The President emphasized the importance of becoming a very attractive basement for foreign investments. All our actions towards achievement of the main goal of the Strategy-2050 must follow clear principles. Apart from the principle of pragmatism and evolutionary nature of all decisions, we need to confine the principle of mutual outspokenness, which means attracting foreign investments, technologies and innovations into our economy. The investors will be provided with propitious working conditions. That is why one of the current goals of our country is to accumulate mining rare-earth metals which are of great significance for high-tech industries such as electronic engineering, laser technology, communicational and medical equipment. Creating high-tech economy, first of all, is increasing potential of Kazakhstan science. In this direction steps towards refinement of legislation on venture capital financing, intellectual property protection, support of research and innovations and commercialization of scientific research results must be made.

Another way to encourage more people to get involved into medical sphere in Kazakhstan is the level of prestige value and increase in salaries of healthcare workers. The President charged the Government to develop and introduce a new model of remuneration of labour for civil employees by the first of July 2015. Therefore it must assure increase of salaries of healthcare workers by 28 per cent.

He also pointed out that our way to the future is associated with creating new possibilities for exposing Kazakhstanis’ potential. Developed country in the ХХI century implies active well-educated and healthy citizens. This is the reason that leads us towards miscellaneous development of young specialists. As we can conclude, in spite of all the obstacles we have come through and all the drawbacks in the current educational system as well as medicine that are still present, contemporary Kazakhstan has all prerequisites for developing the sphere of health care, international collaboration in medicine and to achieve all the goals, set by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, we need to implement major changes into the educational system.

Let us consider Common Core State Standard of higher education in Kazakhstan to understand the main reasons of the problem. Higher professional education is a professional curriculum of higher education, aimed at training of specialists with certification with accordance to the major with the normative period of studies not less than four years and compulsory mastery of not less than one hundred and sixty-one credits of theoretical education and not less than six credits of vocational practice.

It is claimed that the elective component should take into account the particular characteristics of social and economic development of the given region and its labor market demands, established scientific schools in the particular institution of higher education and individual interests of each student. The elective component can be formed either by the decision of the council of the university or by the suggestions of the departments, students and university employees. However, as the experience has shown, the limitation of elective component choice, which is in turn predetermined by the restraints in teaching staff, does not allow selecting the subjects that would be really necessary in the students’ future career. Standard curriculum of different majors of higher education must correspond with the principles of this Common Core State Standard of higher education and identify all the claims put towards the structure, extent and the content of educational programs, normative period of studies and the students’ current degree of training.

“The Vocational Kazakh or the Vocational Russian Language” and “Vocationallyoriented Foreign Language” have to be included into the compulsory component of the core subjects with the volume no less than two credits each. The mentioned subjects are settled on linguistics and profiled departments together. It is indisputable that such insignificant amount of time if not enough for a proper acquisition of a foreign language for majors not connected with languages, for example medical nurse. The situation is a little bit different for the majors of translation studies. They have a lot more hours devoted to mastery of a foreign language as well as different types of translation, including informative translation subject. However, as we will consider below, the standard curriculum of higher education for the major of translation studies also does not meet the demand of contemporary Republic of Kazakhstan in professionals who could be competitive in medicine due to their knowledge of the English language.

To understand the nature of the problem let us examine whether the standard curriculum for the major of translation studies does empower the students at the end of their education to successfully execute translation in this sphere at all. To do this we have to look closer at all the disciplines of both compulsory and elective component of the standard curriculum, affirmed by the Common Core State Standard of higher education in Kazakhstan. The complex of general education subjects, the same as in any other major, includes two hundred and seventy hours of the foreign language. It lasts for three semesters and has an examination as a final control means. It is of significance to mention that for grading students’ command of language, the contemporary higher education system uses The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, abbreviated as CEFR. It is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe and, increasingly, in other. It was put together by the Council of Europe as the main part of the project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" between 1989 and 1996. Its main aim is to provide a method of learning, teaching and assessing which applies to all languages in Europe. In November 2001 a European Union Council Resolution recommended using the CEFR to set up systems of validation of language ability. The six reference levels are becoming widely accepted as the European standard for grading an individual's language proficiency. Standard language block of subjects involves nine hundred hours of base foreign language, which starts at the beginning of the first semester with the input requirements of language knowledge of only A1 or A2 of Common European Framework of Reference. This coincides with beginner and elementary levels. After completion of the first semester the students are expected to reach B1 level. Thus, upon completion of all the four courses of base foreign language they have to reach the B2 level. The description of the level, offered by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages states that students having this level of proficiency must be able to understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his or her field of specialization and also interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. This level requires producing clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explaining a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Apart from the general education subjects, standard curriculum for the major of translation studies contains such block of subjects as:

  • theoretical-vocational block;
  • theoretical-linguistic block;
  • vocational-culturological block;
  • special-linguistic block.

We suggest considering the latter complex of subjects in a little bit more details. The subjects included in this list can also be referred to language-oriented block and represent a general-vocational foreign language course with two hundred and twenty-five hours, which is spread to two semesters in the third year of education and a specialvocational foreign language course, also lasting twenty-five academic hours but introduced in the last year of bachelor degree. It should be noted however, that institutions of higher education are entitled to shift teaching any of the disciplines from one semester to another, unless it violates the logic of mastery of educational program. As we can seen from above the high level of command of the foreign language among the graduates of the bachelor degree in translation studies is practically assured and is not the issue of the thesis.

However it is of more interest for us to examine the most vocationally-oriented block of the standard curriculum for the translation studies major, which is the proximate translation technology. This block belongs to the complex of profiles subjects, together with the special-linguistic block, and consists of four compulsory subjects such as practice of literacy translation course, practice of written translation course, practice of interpretation course and practice of informative translation course. Each of these four disciplines take one hundred and thirty-five hours and are mainly implemented during the third and the fourth years of studies, namely the fifth-sixth and seventh-eighth semester respectively. The subject that is of most concern for us from the four disciplines is practice of informative translation course, since we believe it to be a way to introduce the medical translation course. As we know, translation can be literary and informative. Literary translation is the translation of literary texts. The main function of literary translation is to produce an emotional or aesthetic impression upon the reader, whereas the informative translation deals with rendering into target language the non-literary texts and its main purpose is to convey a certain amount of ideas. To make it simple, sometimes a need for informative translation may arise, for instance, when a person has to use a lot of material in foreign language. The principle of informative translation is separation of important information from insignificant information, which enables to understand the sense and get the summary of a long text document. If one sees that he or she does not need accurate and literal translation but do with so-called „essence of text“, then informative translation is evidently the service they need. According to Komissarov, informative translation is translation of texts with the basic function of reporting any data, information transfer; thus the artistic or aesthetic effect on the reader is excluded. All materials of scientific, business, political, social character belong to such texts. Hence, translation of texts on construction may be referred to the second type of translation according to the genre-andstyle classification. In informative translation, subtypes of translation differ on the basis of the subject matter of the texts translated and belong to various functional styles of the source language. Thus, functional-stylistic features of original texts define the special features of such texts translation. Moving back to the consideration of practice of informative translation course, the standard curriculum distinguishes seven main themes that have to be covered within the classroom. They are as follows:

  • differentiation of texts; This topic is considered to be very important in practice of informative translation and there is twice as much time devoted to it;
  • translation of newspapers and journalistic texts;
  • translation of popular scientific texts;
  • translation of official papers;
  • translation of business processes;
  • translation of scientific and technical texts.

Medical translation is then characterized by a cognitive type of information, where linguistic means are held in strict conventional frames. In terms of lexical resource, the main feature of scientific language is utmost intensity in the use of specialized terminology, relevant to this particular field. Most wellknown linguistic means providing objectivity of expressing cognitive information are lexical abbreviations or acronyms (general and terminological), passive voice, impersonal sentence and indefinite-personal sentence and impersonal semantics of a subject. Such peculiarities must be paid much attention and taken into consideration throughout the translation, as it must be off the mark to translate English phrase into Russian using loan translation. Thus, we are to fell back upon replacement of passive constructions with other means which are more common in Russian. Working with medical texts translators encounters a set of problems which are not only the extent of medical terminology as such. It is needless to comment that high intensity of narrowlyspecialized vocabulary in the texts of this type is obvious. As for the technical and scientific translation, as a field, it has been recognized, studied, and developed since the nineteen sixtiesStemming from the field of translation studies, the field of technical translation traditionally emphasized much importance on the source language from which text is translated. However, over the years there has been a movement away from this traditional approach to a focus on the purpose of the translation and on the intended audience. This is perhaps because only five or ten per cent of items in a technical document are terminology, while the other ninety ninety-five per cent of the text is language, most likely in a natural style of the source language. Though technical translation is only one subset of the different types of professional translation, it is the largest subset as far as output is concerned. Currently, more than ninety per cent of all professionally translated work is done by technical translators, highlighting the importance and significance of the field. When studying translation of scientific and technical texts it is of common use to cover the peculiarities of translating specific terms, general scientific vocabulary, and verbal forms. There is every indication that translation of medical text is a type of translation of scientific and technical texts, and the course of medical translation should most reasonably be included into this section of informative translation course.

Unsophisticated calculation of maximum amount of time devoted to each section, however, will bring us to the conclusion that the time we can spend on translation of scientific and technical texts practice constitutes just over nineteen hours. Thus, even if we decide to include the course of medical translation into the section dealing with scientific and technical texts, it is easy to understand that such fractional amount of time is insufficient for mastering the whole syllabus. All the more, it is impossible to exclude all other spheres of scientific and technical translation except translation of medical texts, even thought the standard curriculum allows institutions of higher education to change the number of hours, devoted to mastery of the material insignificantly. For instance, for the disciplines of general education the margin, within which the amount of time may vary, is ten per cent. For standard subjects complex and profiled subjects complex it might fluctuate within twenty per cent.

The given article carries out analysis of the situation in the sphere of medical translation. As we have already concluded, one of the problems is current inability of the state educational system to prepare good translators of the medical sphere, which is partially because the state standard curriculum does not meet the contemporary demands of labor market. It perfectly copes with preparation of specialist who are trained to translate newspapers and journalistic texts, popular scientific texts, official papers or business processes as the amount of time devoted to this sectors is enough, but the question whether this spheres of life are highly developed in the Republic of Kazakhstan and require specialists that completed training courses in them, is still open. Still, there are hundreds of practitioners neglecting the opportunities to develop their own knowledge and the whole healthcare system of the country because of the lack of translators in the sphere of medicine. We have considered the standard curriculum for the translation studies major in higher education to understand the reason and nature of the issue, and we may now conclude that it is packed with some courses that are not of particular interest of potential employers, while there are other spheres of translation that need to be trained.Therefore to solve this problem in order to fulfill the instructions we have to find another way to meet the demand.



  1. Healthcare in Kazakhstan. Retrived from: http://www.astanazdorovie.kz/
  2. Об утверждении государственных общеобязательных стандартов образования соответствующих уровней образования. Retrived from: http://adilet.zan.kz/rus/
  3. Типовой учебный план специальности 5В020700 Переводческое дело (Казахстан). Retrived from: http://www.testent.ru/
  4. Montalt R, Vicent and Gonzalez D, M (2007). Medical Translation Step by Step. // Manchester: St. Jerome Publishing

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International relations

International relations



Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection between textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics.[

Technical science

Technical science