Reading Comprehension Needs of Iranian Medical Students

Document Type : Research Paper


1 University of Tehran

2 University of Tehran, Kish International Campus


The present study aimed to assess the target and present reading comprehension needs and abilities of Iranian medical students with different levels of English language proficiency. A total of 283 medical students and 23 ESP instructors were chosen through cluster sampling. The data collection instruments included the Persian version of Atai and Nazari’s (2011) needs analysis questionnaire and a 40-item language proficiency test. The obtained results indicated that ‘general vocabulary’ and ‘medical terminology’ were considered ‘important’ in facilitating the comprehension of medical texts. In addition, the findings revealed that medical students need to improve all reading sub-skills. Furthermore, the respondents’ perceptions were significantly different with regard to students’ target needs and present abilities in reading comprehension. Finally, there was no statistically significant difference in students’ target and present needs and abilities across different levels of language proficiency. The findings have potential implications for the improvement of medical EAP courses. 


Atai, M. R. , & Anbarshahi, S.  (2003). The impact of the explicit instruction of the frequent grammatical patterns of ESM written discourse on ESP students reading comprehension. Iranian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 10(1), 115-132.
Atai, M. R., & Nazari, O. (2011). Exploring reading comprehension needs of Iranian EAP students of health information management (HIM): A triangulated approach. System, 39(1), 30-43.
Atai, M. R., & Shoja, L. (2011). A triangulated study of academic language needs of Iranian students of computer engineering: Are the courses on track? RELC Journal, 42(3), 305-323.
Bachman, L. F., & Palmer, A. S. (1996). Language testing in practice: Designing and developing useful language tests (Vol. 1). New York: Oxford University Press.
Bosher, S., & Smalkoski, K. (2002). From needs analysis to curriculum development: Designing a course in health-care communication for immigrant students in the USA. English for specific purposes, 21(1), 59-79.
Dehnad, A., Bagherzadeh, R., Bigdeli, S., Hatami, K., & Hosseini, A. F. (2014). Post graduate ESP curriculum: Reading and writing Needs. Acta Medica Iranica, 52(5), 406.
Dudley-Evans, T., & St John, M. J. (1998). Developments in English for specific purposes: A multi-disciplinary approach. Cambridge university press, Cambridge.
Eslami, Z. R. (2010). Teachers’ voice vs. students’ voice: A needs analysis approach of English for acadmic purposes (EAP) in Iran. English Language Teaching, 3(1), 3.
Ghalandari, S., & Talebinejad, M. R. (2012). Medical ESP textbook evaluation in Shiraz medical college. Education Research Journal, 2(1), 20-29.
Hamp-Lyons, L. (2001). English for Academic Purposes. In R. Cartel, & D, Nunan. (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to teach English to speakers of other languages (pp, 126-130). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Hessamy, G., & Mohebi, M. (2014). Perceptions of medical students and EFL instructors of their EAP materials, challenges and implications for Iranian EAP instructors. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 5(1), 183-192.
Howatt, A. P. R., & Widdowson, H. G. (2004). A history of ELT. Oxford University Press.
Hutchinson, T., & Waters, A. (1987). English for specific purposes: A learning centered approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hyland, K. (2006). English for academic purposes: Taylor and Francis.
Jafari, S. M., & Shokrpour, N. (2012). EAP Students’ Reading Motivation of English Academic Expository Texts: A Mixed Methods Design. International Journal of Linguistics, 4(4), 372.
Jafari, S. M., & Shokrpour, N. (2012). The reading strategies used by Iranian ESP students to comprehend authentic expository texts in English. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 1(4), 102-113.
Jordan, R. R. (1997). English for academic purposes: A guide and resource book for teachers. Cambridge University Press.
Long, M. H. (2005). Second language needs analysis. Cambridge University Press.
Lytle, S. L. (1988). From the inside out: Reinventing assessment. Focus on basics, 2(1), 1-4.
Mazdayasna, G., & Noori, M. (2014). Developing a profile of learning needs of Iranian undergraduate students of English Language and Literature. Iranian Journal of Applied Language Studies, 6(2), 27-58.
Mazdayasna, G., & Tahririan, M. H. (2008). Developing a profile of the ESP needs of Iranian students: The case of students of nursing and midwifery. Journal of English for Academic purposes, 7(4), 277-289.
Molhim, M. A. (2011). English for medical purposes course design for Arab university students. English for Specific Purposes World, 32, 1-21.
Richards, J. C. (2001). Curriculum development in language teaching. Ernst Klett Sprachen.
Robinson, P. C. (1991). ESP today: A practitioner’s guide. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice Hall.
Rostami, F., & Zafarghandi, A. M. (2014). EAP needs analysis in Iran: The case of university students in chemistry department. Journal of language Teaching and Research, 5(4), 924-934.
Sajadi, F, & Oghabi, M. (2011). Relation between instructors’ objective needs and students’ subjective needs: The case of Iranian post graduate students. The Asian ESP Journal, 7(4), 123-152.
Syndicate, UCLE. (2001). Quick placement test. Oxford, Oxford University Press.
Tabatabaei, O. (2007). Who qualifies to monitor an ESP course: A content teacher or a language teacher?Indian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 33(1), 77-86.
Vosoughi, M., Sharifabad, E. D., & Raftari, S. (2013). Investigating current status of English for academic purposes (EAP) in Iran; Revisiting ESP specificity continuum. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 2(3), 54-61.
Zarein-Dolab, S. (2009). Recall of general and medical vocabulary and text structure knowledge: An experimental study of English for medical purposes. Journal of Medical Education, 12(3, 4), 1251-1251.