Bedside Manner 

by guest blogger Simon Capper


 

Bedside Manner by Simon Capper

 

Bedside Manner started out the way most textbooks do. I'd started teaching nurses, and was using a textbook that neither I, nor my students, were entirely happy with. Nursing English, even at the most basic level, involves quite a lot of vocabulary. Not necessarily difficult vocabulary, but vocabulary nonetheless. The book that I was using certainly had a lot of it, but offered very little support to students as to how to use and learn it. Other books in the field were even worse--tired old templates replete with words like prothrombin, nephron and arachnoid. Are there really spiders in the central nervous system?*

I spent the next seven years writing, piloting, refining and polishing the materials that would become Bedside Manner. False starts and dead ends abounded, but we got there in the end.

Providing the much-needed vocabulary support for learners proved more challenging that I'd expected. But hey, what's life without a challenge? My students are entering one of the most challenging professions in the world, one that I'm sure I could never cope with. If they can do all those dirty, dangerous and demanding tasks (I'm talking about nursing here, not English classes), it was the least I could do to make their English study more bearable, enjoyable and profitable.

So we focus on collocations, we learn about word formation, we review those all-important parts of speech. We use crosswords, games, keyword recreation activities, vocabulary posters--anything we can to help them become proficient at basic nursing English. And of course, we use Quizlets. What are Quizlets? Well, you can do a search and find them yourself, or you can read my latest contribution to Between the Keys. I'm off now to find out what prothrombin and nephron mean.

*Don't call me on this one. I know that arachnoid means cobweblike!

Fifteen Little Stories

by guest blogger, Gregg McNabb

Fifteen Little Stories for English Language Learners is a collection of twelve lighthearted anecdotes such as the habits of two actual mad profs here in Japan, a teenage prank, children's winter on the Canadian prairies, how not to become dog food, plus one sad story, a revised Chinese folktale and a mini biography of two actual female spies. It is written in controlled, but natural English for high beginning to low intermediate young adult learners. I hoped to offer students more personal narratives as opposed to the somewhat artificial readings found in many textbooks.The stories range in length from about 500 to 1500 words, but most are between 700 and 900 words. It is designed as enjoyable supplemental reading or possibly as the first step toward extensive reading.

Here's an excerpt from "Phone calls":

“Does your dad hate me?”
“No, not especially. He dislikes almost everyone.”
“Then why haven’t you been answering the phone these days?”
“Huh? You haven’t called.”
“What are you talking about? I’ve called and called, but no one's answered.”

I was puzzled. We never went out. My sister and I had never been to a restaurant. My dad was too cheap. He said, “What’s the matter with your mother’s cooking? It’s great. So why do you want to insult your mother by eating out?” For us, take-out KFC was a luxury. Yup, we were always at home – shoveling mountains of snow, raking fields of leaves, folding clothes, cleaning our rooms, taking out the garbage, dusting, polishing his shoes , etc. (I'm not exaggerating)

I have encouraged teachers to focus on having students read repeatedly more so than dissecting the text, so I introduced Spreeder.com, a nifty site to practice speed reading. That said, there are enough exercises to confirm comprehension and build vocabulary without becoming (I hope) a full-on textbook.