I continue to be asked for more YouTube videos showing sample dialogues for the role plays in the OET speaking subtest. Thank you all for your interest. Some of you also ask for the transcripts but actually, without an explanation about the language used in the dialogue, transcripts are of limited value. For this reason I decided to self publish some books with hints for the OET for nurses. I have just finished a book for the speaking subtest ( see picture to the left). It is available on the self publishing site LULU which is a site similar to AMazon ion the way you order books.
The reason I decided to write the book was to highlight important information about communication and the language functions you will use to communicate effectively. Some people are a little confused when I say 'language function' so I'll just quickly explain here:
Grammar - these are the correct verb tenses, noun forms and adjective order rules which are the building blocks of the language. For example, the Present Perfect, uncountable nouns etc.
Language functions (also called Functional Language) - this is what you do with the grammar you have learned. So, 'asking about the duration of an event' uses the Present Perfect tense (How long have you had the pain in your side?).
To communicate well, it's important to understand which functions to use in a given situation. This is more important than correct grammar. For example, if you say 'Can you explain me about the accident?', I will understand what you mean, even though 'explain me' is incorrect grammar. It should be Can you explain TO me....
The role play samples which I write and put on YouTube show you examples of some of the language functions you might use in similar situations. Remember that you should develop your own style, not just copy mine! I give you one or two examples under each function heading - you need to go away and think about the sorts of role plays you might have to do and think of the language you will use in them.
This is why I advise my students to write down some mini-dialogues covering particular functions. Think of how you will advise a patient about caring for a simple dressing at home. Try to have no more than 3 points you might tell the patient.
For example, 1. keep clean and dry 2. change every 2 days 3. tell your GP if you notice any discharge.
You might think of 3 different points ( cover dressing with a plastic before you have a shower, have a shower not a bath, have the stitches taken out after a week to ten days). It really doesn't matter what your points are. It's more important to think about the language you will use to advise - It's a good idea to.... You should....It's best to....Make sure that you..... Try not to.....
When you look at the videos on YouTube, try to identify the language I have used in them and think about the reasons I used those particular functions. Feel free to use them as a guide for your own dialogues but make sure your dialogues reflect your communication style, not mine!
I have collected hints for the OET for nurses which I hope will help in doing the test. It can be purchased on Lulu.
I am often asked the question 'What if I don't know anything about the disease or condition during the OET?' It may be during the role play when you are thinking about how to explain the treatment for a condition or just explaining the condition to a patient. The NHS Choices website is a great resource to help with this. The picture above from the NHS Choices link relates to Jaundice in Newborns, however, there are several other examples which you can practise with. You will also find glossaries of the terms used in the MOM in the pages following the map.
Whilst the MOM will be of most use to candidates doing the OET for doctors and nurses, they will be of use to other groups - pharmacists, physios, radiographers and podiatrists, for example.
The OET is undergoing an overhaul so that it becomes not only a test you have to do to be able to work in a healthcare area but also a good indication of how you will function when you start working in your new job. This is because the OET is specific to your medical area and concentrates on testing your ability to communicate effectively. And, safely.
Lately, I have had some interesting conversations with candidates who have had a different experience of nursing from my own. The kinds of conversations they have with patients are sometimes quite different from the conversations they will have when they work in Australia, New Zealand, the UK etc. Sometimes, they do not have any experience of communication strategies like persuading a patient to accept a treatment or reassuring a patient. This is part of a wider style of communicating and includes what we refer to as 'intercultural communication'.
The speaking section of the test often confuses some candidates and so, rather than answer the individual emails I receive, I decided to make a short YouTube video dealing with some of the issues of the role play. You can find the YouTube video along with a transcript of the video on this website.
The most important feature of the OET is the concentration on assessing the language competence of each candidate. Whilst it may be disappointing for a candidate to receive a mark below the essential B grade, it's important to remember that this may indicate that the candidate cannot communicate effectively enough to be a safe practitioner. The healthcare area, be it physiotherapy, podiatry,dentistry, nursing or medicine is all about safe practice. Unlike other ESP areas, communication in healthcare must be safe and accurate. This is where the OET has the potential to be not just an entrance exam but a test of ongoing ability. The need to read medical information is always there - at the workplace, in research, during continuing professional development. The need to be able to communicate in a variety of situations is ongoing - giving bad news, dealing with aggressive patients, managing difficult situations etc. These communication skills are developed with experience but can be practised using the kinds of role plays found in the OET.
I have just recorded a short youtube video which deals with the structure of the role play. As with the role play, it is important to develop your own structures for writing referral letters and later for writing patient notes.
You will need to be able to read medical texts for the reading and the speaking tests. For the speaking test, there may be common medical abbreviations as well as medical terms.
Therefore,you should spend some time revising (or learning) some of the following:
The reading task is the same for all professions, so you may need to be familiar with a wide range of topics. Despite this, you should start with the 'basics'. It's a good idea to build up your own glossary of terms in the following areas:
The reading task is often presented as three to four short texts about the same topic. The information may be expressed in different ways so you will need to understand equivalent terms. By predicting the terms you are likely to be reading, you can scan for important information much easier. For example, if the text is about the brain you may expect to read terms like cognitive function, cerebral, ischaemia, frontal lobe, carotid artery etc. A text about the prostate may include terms like TURP, benign prostatic hypertrophy, PSA, hesitancy,empty the bladder and so on.
By developing a glossary of terms (and adding to it as you read more) you start training your brain to expect to see certain terms within a topic. Try to learn related medical prefixes and suffixes as well as this helps you to predict unknown words. For instance, if you are unsure of the term 'hypertrophy' in benign prostatic hypertrophy but you know that 'hyper' means 'increase',then you could make a guess that 'hypertrophy' means an increase of some sort (in this case, the prostate).
Many students email me for help with the OET speaking test. Whilst it is not recommended that you simply copy a dialogue or learn it by heart, it does help to listen to a sample dialogue to get an idea of what you are being asked to do. The role play card will guide you as to what you are trying to communicate. There will usually be 3 or 4 tasks for you to do. Of course, you don't have the advantage of reading the 'patient's' card so you need to guess what they might say.
This role play is about bed wetting. The mother (or father) of a young boy (4 years old) has come to see you in a clinic setting. So, you may guess that:
1. she (or he) will be worried that there might be something wrong with the child - they need reassurance.
2. they may not know much about the condition - you need to explain it.
3. they may not know how to manage the condition - you need to give advice.
Make sure you know the expressions you need to use for these communication functions.
Before you practise the dialogue, make sure you predict some of the terms you may hear or need to use yourself. You should check that you know terms which relate to the urinary system, for example.
There is a pdf available on this site with some activities relating to the video as well as a transcript. Otherwise, watch the video and try to identify the way the nurse conducts the conversation. Would you have done it this way or a different way?
I am a medical English author of books and online courses. I have a particular interest in OET preparation and am an OET premium preparation provider with my colleagues at Specialist Language Courses. I am based in the UK.