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Teach Learn Med. 2009 Oct;21(4):305-9. doi: 10.1080/10401330903228489.

Accuracy of self-assessed Spanish fluency in medical students.

Author information

  • 1Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology and the Center for Latino Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7110, USA. dreuland@med.unc.edu



Non-English language fluency is increasingly important in patient care. Fluency self-assessment is easily obtained, but its accuracy is unknown.


The purpose is to determine accuracy of medical students' self-assessed Spanish fluency.


Four matriculating classes assessed their own oral fluency as ("none":"novice";"intermediate";"advanced";"native-speaker"). Participants who rated themselves greater than "novice" and who expressed interest in medical Spanish coursework took a standardized fluency test (Spoken Language Evaluation, scaled 1-12). Using predetermined test categories (1-5 = novice, 6-8 = intermediate, 9-12 = advanced/native), we determined the predictive value of self-assessment for predicting the same or greater fluency on the test.


Of 102 participants, 12 (12%) tested below their self-assessed level, 77 (75%) tested at their self-assessed level, and 13 (13%) tested above. The predictive value of self-assessment for having at least that fluency level was 88% (95% CI = 80, 94).


In medical students reporting greater than "novice" capability and interest in medical Spanish coursework, fluency self-assessment was a good indicator of scores on a standardized fluency test.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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