The Lingo Ledger

Student Spotlight: Lisa Thompson

Lisa Thompson Photo

Lisa Thompson is board certified in emergency medicine and has been practicing for more than 20 years. She is also certified in the field of hospice and palliative care. For the past 3 years she has been working as an online care provider with a rapidly growing telemedicine company. She continues to explore ways to make healthcare more accessible through technology. Lisa is currently learning Spanish on Lingo Live.

"I see patients online for a variety of health-related questions and medical problems. The number of patients our company has been able to serve has grown dramatically and now we are looking to extend our services to Spanish-speaking patients," she says. When the administrators of Lisa's company first started planning this new program, there were only 2 physicians in her group of more than 30 providers who felt comfortable enough with their Spanish skills to join the project. "I knew only basic Spanish medical vocabulary but I volunteered to participate because I saw it as an opportunity to improve my language skills," she says.


What was your level of Spanish proficiency before taking lessons and how has your Spanish improved?

Before I started taking lessons on Lingo Live, I would say my Spanish proficiency was at a low intermediate level. I have taken a few basic Spanish classes over the years but I was always hopeless and believed that I would never be fluent. I had a good grasp of both the present and past tenses but my vocabulary was limited and I knew almost nothing about the subjunctive tenses or more complex grammar.

I could “muddle through” a history and a physical exam in a medical environment but I was completely incapable of having an in-depth conversation with patients about things like depression or anxiety. I was very insecure about my conversational skills. I longed to be able to express myself better in Spanish and, more importantly, to be able to understand my patients better. I really wanted to be able to comprehend what was being said to me and to be able to speak with confidence.

Before taking lessons, I always felt self-conscious, tongue-tied and helpless whenever I tried to have a conversation in Spanish. As a physician, this was very scary for me because communication is key to providing good patient care. The best part of the education I have been receiving through Lingo Live is that Yadira, my instructor, has tailored each lesson to focus on language that is pertinent to my profession. She has actually done “role play” with me where she has pretended to be a patient that I might see online. This has reinforced useful vocabulary for me, it has prepared me for many possible situations and it has helped me to be more comfortable and self-confident.

Yadira is a wonderful teacher. She is patient, warm and she actually knows a lot of medical terminology. Yadira is an excellent actress as well – I always feel like I am really talking to a patient when we practice! I can’t put a value on how helpful these lessons have been for me. Since I started using Lingo Live, I can tell that my skills have advanced quite a lot. My vocabulary continues to grow. I am still not as fluent as I would like to be but I am no longer hopeless or afraid.


What are some language learning milestones you reached while taking lessons?

The most important milestone is that I expanded my medical vocabulary to the point that I can talk with patients about the majority of symptoms and medical issues that I see through my telemedicine practice. I also feel like I am finally starting to grasp how and when to use the subjunctive which used to give me nightmares before Lingo Live.


What are your language learning goals for the rest of the year?

I want to continue to expand my vocabulary. I also want to improve my pronunciation and my listening comprehension skills. I want to master the trickier grammar and my ultimate goal is to be completely proficient.


Is there any advice you would like to share to other students who are learning a new language?

I think it is very important to try to immerse yourself in the language as much as possible. Force yourself to converse with native speakers and ask them to correct you, watch movies and TV shows in Spanish, listen to Spanish music and podcasts, and read Spanish literature and news articles.

Try to write your grocery list or some emails in Spanish. Read something in Spanish out loud and record yourself (you can do this easily with your mobile phone). Listen to your recording and try to write down what you recorded like you were taking down a dictation.

Another thing that has been very helpful for me is to try to learn one new Spanish word a day. Randomly pick a word out of a Spanish dictionary and if the word you choose happens to be a verb, learn the conjugation as well. There are also some apps that help you to learn new vocabulary through the use of word games.