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Keywords:

  • dental education;
  • dentistry;
  • language;
  • linguistics

English is the common language of international scientific and cultural exchange. As the world becomes more globalized and with increasing dependence on the Internet, English becomes increasingly important as a second language. English is the official language for all international associations, societies, organizations etc and their meetings and publications. High quality international collaboration usually requires a high standard of English language proficiency. There is very little information regarding English language education in dentistry on a global basis, particularly in Japan. In 1999 we undertook a comprehensive survey of English education in all 29 Japanese dental schools in the form of a questionnaire. Few schools had native-speaking educators or those at native speaker level and most did not have a background in dentistry or the health sciences. There are no ideal textbooks for dental students studying English. Most disciplines within dentistry have a professional society or an association with meetings and publications. Currently there is no such group for English-language education in dentistry. Closer collaboration amongst those concerned may help improve the quality of education. The level of English-language ability of current dental students will affect the quality of future dental educators and researchers.