Spanish for Successful Communication in Healthcare Settings

  • Course StartSelf-paced
  • Course Duration4 weeks
  • Workload3-6 hours per week
  • Credit OfferedCertificate Available
  • Tuition$49

Learn how the Spanish language is used in the context of healthcare interactions.

Course Description

This course is structured in four modules, each one revolving on a topic related to the physician-patient interaction. Each module contains four lessons; on grammar, vocabulary, the dynamics of the spoken interaction, and aspects of sociocultural relevance. The video lessons are unlike regular “lectures” in which you are just listening. Instead, you should think of them as virtual classes where you are supposed to reflect, complete activities, and even get extra practice on your own time. The videos are a roadmap that will provide what you need to complete the activities on the student handout. Each module is followed by a 10-question quiz. It is important that you complete the lessons sequentially, as they build upon each other.

Course Trailer

Spanish for Successful Communication in Healthcare Settings implements the teaching principles regularly used at Rice University’s Center for Languages and Intercultural Communication. These include:

Providing the students with as much linguistic input as possible. Our language classes are taught in the target language since the beginning levels, and so are the lesson videos in this course.

Using natural or authentic language samples. Every lesson in the course includes at least one recording from authentic healthcare provider consultations. They will allow you to familiarize yourself with the pace and accent of native speakers of different origins and ages.

Bringing the focus to Interactional and Cross-cultural Competences. For a more effective communication in oral situations, applying grammatical rules and using extensive vocabulary is not enough. Our goal is to bring awareness to our students about the mechanics of conversation and key cultural aspects of it, that are associated with Spanish.

Language analysis and comparison with one’s own first language and cultural background. You don’t need to be a linguist to think about language! In this course, you will be encouraged to link the lessons with your experiences in your own native language. By identifying the similarities and differences between those two languages and cultures, you will remember them easier!



In order to pass this course, you must receive an 80% or higher on all graded items:

Four (4) Module Quizzes worth 20% each (or 80% of total grade)
Final Exam worth 20%

This class is structured as a four (4) module, self-paced course, meaning you can spend 24 straight hours cramming lectures (not recommended) or you can use the recommended deadlines as a guide. The course has the following layout:

Module One – The Doctor-Patient Interview

  • Lesson 1 – Contextualized Grammar
    Topic: Formulating Questions
  • Lesson 2 – Thematic Vocabulary
    Topic: The Human Body
  • Lesson 3 – Interactional Dynamics
    Topic: Active Listenership
  • Lesson 4 – Sociolinguistic Context
    Topic: Addressing the Patient: tú / usted

Module One – Assignments

  • Quiz: Module 1 Quiz


Module Two – The Physical Examination

  • Lesson 5 – Contextualized Grammar
    Topic: Giving Instructions
  • Lesson 6 – Thematic Vocabulary
    Topic: Common Symptoms
  • Lesson 7 – Interactional Dynamics
    Topic: Making a Patient Feel Respected and Comfortable
  • Lesson 8 – Sociolinguistic Context
    Topic: Talking to Children

Module Two – Assignments

  • Quiz: Module 2 Quiz

Module Three– Explaining a Treatment or a Procedure

  • Lesson 9 – Contextualized Grammar
    Topic: Using Adverbials
  • Lesson 10 – Thematic Vocabulary
    Topic: Common Groups of Drugs and Drug Administration
  • Lesson 11 – Interactional Dynamics
    Topic: Collaboration in the Interaction
  • Lesson 12 – Sociolinguistic Context
    Topic: Communicating in the Appropriate Register

 Module Three – Assignments

  • Quiz: Module 3 Quiz


Module Four – Solving Communication Difficulties

  • Lesson 13 – Contextualized Grammar
    Topic: Using Pronouns
  • Lesson 14 – Thematic Vocabulary
    Topic: Diagnostic Tests
  • Lesson 15 – Interactional Dynamics
    Topic: Managing Difficulties in Communication
  • Lesson 16 – Sociolinguistic Context
    Topic: Understanding the Sociolinguistic Context of Interactions

Module Four- Assignments

  • Quiz: Module 4 Quiz

Final Exam

Course Resources

The course has the following resources to enhance your learning:

Lesson Videos
Each lesson has four sections: Introduction, Analysis, Review, and Homework. You will find the same structure in the Student Handouts. You are encouraged to pause the videos when appropriate to complete the activities on the Student Handout. It is recommended that you complete the lessons sequentially and build upon the content.

Spanish Transcripts
If you find understanding the videos is too challenging due to the language, you can read the transcripts while you listen to the videos. You will find the transcripts for the lesson videos underneath each video. You can also turn on the Closed Captions option on the video.

English Translations
If the Spanish transcripts are not enough, you can consult the English translation, which you will find in under Downloads next to the videos.

Activity Sheets
Also named Student Handouts, these documents are your activity book for each lesson. Before you start watching the lesson’s intro video, make sure you have downloaded the activity sheet. Each time you hit a pause in the video, go to your sheet and complete the corresponding activity. You may print them, or you may work directly on them and save your answers in the electronic version! You don’t need to turn them in. They are for you and can help you prepare for the module quizzes and final.

Activity Answer Keys
Because this is a self-paced course, how much you learn will depend on how much time and effort you devote to it. The lesson activities are a key component of the course, and you will need to find and correct your errors yourself. We have created the Activity Answer Keys to help you with that. They also include additional explanations and notes from your professor. Take advantage of them!

Question Forums
We are here to help! You can use the forums to share your course-related questions with your classmates. The course instructor and course TAs will answer your questions in the shortest time possible.


This course has been designed for intermediate learners of Spanish as a foreign or as a second language. In other words, the students who already have some knowledge of general Spanish – whether from formal education or from informal exposure to the language – will get the most out of the course. However, you will still benefit from the course if you are only a beginner, already an advanced user, or even a heritage speaker of Spanish.

A tip for students with a beginner level of Spanish: because the materials and the video lessons are in Spanish, it is recommended that you turn on closed captioning or the transcript option for the videos. We have also provided English transcripts in case you have trouble understanding some parts. If following the videos is still too challenging for you, we suggest that you take an introductory Spanish course first, and come back to try this course again.

Beware! This course is not about medical content and does not intend to give advice on how to conduct any clinical-related activities. This course is about how language – Spanish, in particular – is used in the context of healthcare interactions. Because of this, you don’t need to have prior medical knowledge other than drawing on your own experience as a patient to pass the course. If you do have professional experience in healthcare, or are studying to become a health provider – it doesn’t matter what kind -, it will be to your advantage! Many of the course activities are designed to help you link your background with the content.

Lecture Samples



Any questions? Please e-mail

Professor Information

Picture of Victoria Abad

Victoria Abad

Victoria was born and raised in Madrid, where she lived until she graduated from the Complutense University, with a Master’s Degree in the Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language. She started her teaching career in France for a brief time, before moving to the United States. She joined the Center for Languages and Intercultural […]

Full Bio