Objectives: To evaluate a culture-specific videotape on how to ''break bad news'' and another videotape produced by a western university, and to determine if the language of presentation influenced the students' perceived abilities to execute basic skills. Subjects: Third year medical students at the Faculty of Medicine, the University of Hong Kong. Design: Longitudinal study with experimental design. Intervention: Two instructional tapes on breaking bad news; one using Chinese speaking role models and one using English. Results: In both groups, self-efficacy summed scores increased from 26.8 (95% CI = 25.9-27.7) at the pre-test to 29.0 (95% CI = 28.4-29.6). The biggest changes occurred in perceived self-efficacy regarding specific skills. However, students using the Chinese tape rated skills as more useful than those using the English tape. Conclusion: The videotapes were useful in teaching communication skills. Culturally relevant audiovisual materials were more effective.