A Workshop for Medical Interpreting “Cardiovascular Disease” held

The first part of the workshop on February 7th by Julija-sensei was a group discussion on selected topics from several images, statistical data and topical issues showing diversity in Japan provided by her. Three groups discussed on their selected topics and each summary of the discussion was presented to all the participants, which was also good training to improve public speaking skills. The topics discussed were “why foreign workers are increasing in Japan?”, “how best can we take care of patients from Islamic background?” and “medication during the month of Ramadan.” Religious and cultural diversities seen at hospitals and clinics have been increasing in Japan. Julija-sensei advised that a question such as “Do you have any religious needs?” can ease both patients and hospital personnel.

The second part of the workshop was on ethics. According to the curriculum for medical interpreters’ training by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, medical interpreters work with medical personnel whose ethics and code of conduct must be respected. The curriculum is prepared for prospective interpreters who may be engaged through agents when hospitals/clinics require professional medical interpreters. They are external medical interpreters and are service providers who do not have professional rights within the hospitals/clinics but are responsible for the interpretation only inside the location.

The third part was the main activity of the workshop focused on cardiovascular disease using a workbook authored by Julija-sensei’s team. After practising useful expressions and phrases such as “What seems to be a problem?”, “I sometimes have pain in my chest” sight translation was exercised. Listening carefully and translating promptly are the basis for the medical interpretation that requires continuous practices and training. The participants also reviewed medical terminologies including “arteriosclerosis”, “myocardial infarction”, “angina pectoris (AP)” and so on. Then all the participants took turns in interpreting one sentence each from the script of the workbook, which was followed by comments or advice from Julija sensei. She also questioned what to ask if a patient has to go for an operation.

In conclusion, she advised to speak simple English to patients but to use specialized medical terms to medical doctors. That means medical interpreters must understand both specialized terminologies and their meaning, and how to explain in plain English. The one and a half hour workshop was full of lively activities. We received comments from all the participants including “Time passed so quickly and the workshop was enjoyable” or “the discussion session was good as I was able to communicate with other participants.” We wish to express our appreciation to the lecturer Julija-sensei and to all the participants.

Our Foreign Neighbors We Care would like to continue medical and health care interpretation study programs to support visitors/residents from overseas.


A series of medical interpreting workbook authored by Julija-sensei’s team are published by Osaka Medical Interpretation Academy. For more information, please refer to the following URL: