Do you want to make your OET vocabulary work better for you? Do you feel like you get a grasp of the vocabulary only to feel it slipping away again? Vocabulary is the core of learning a new language. When it comes to professional language learning especially for doctors and nurses, getting that specific language use just right can be challenging. Read on for a teacher’s take on how to achieve that vocabulary break-through you have been waiting for and ace your OET writing sub-test!
Vocabulary is the key to your success
Any teacher will tell you that the power of vocabulary cannot be underestimated. In every English class, there will be a major focus on vocabulary as we know that language is meaning and vice-versa. The more vocabulary we have at our disposal, the better equipped we are to convey the exact meaning that we are after. Is there anything more frustrating than knowing what you want to say but not quite having the words to express yourself? More specifically, in the medical world, knowing the difference between someone being in agony or just a bit sore or feeling sleepy or exhausted is crucial.
Learning 2 sets of vocabulary
The vocabulary that you will use with patients will, of course, be different from the vocabulary that you use to converse with other healthcare professionals such as doctors and nurses. So, if it wasn’t difficult enough, you almost have to learn two new languages! Don’t worry, this is not nearly as hard as it sounds once you get the hang of it. You just need to use the right tone and style for the purpose. For example, imagine saying to a patient’s wife that her husband has been experiencing epigastric pain radiating to the right side with no hematemesis noted, suggestive of cholelithiasis. Obviously, she would not have a clue what you were talking about! She might need to know that her husband has had some problems with his gallstones and reassured that there is no risk of cancer. A good healthcare professional knows when to use each type of language and can switch between them effortlessly.
Getting your vocabulary right for the assessors
OET assessors are always on the lookout for impressive use of vocabulary. In terms of OET speaking and writing, impressive really means appropriate. They are not interested in flowery language, exciting adjectives and alliterative phrases…you are not writing a novel or your autobiography! They want to see those verbs in the past perfect, the use of the passive voice, that the patient presented with, was commenced on…you get the idea. The language of health-care professionals communicating with one another, whether that be in nursing or optometry! This is why it is so important to revise the materials that we provide and learn this language until it becomes second nature.
Putting this into practice
Whether you are a nurse, or doctor, pharmacist or physiotherapist, you will come across examples of patient suited language and professional language all the time in your study, training and work. However, without paying the proper attention, they can soon get lost among the huge number of new English words going around your head! You need to record these words and phrases. Write them down along with anything you notice about the use of the vocabulary. Get in the habit of also recording what type of word or phrase it is grammatically. This way you build up a more thorough understanding of the language and this helps you to use it more accurately.
For example, you could jot down the word type. Was it a noun, verb, adverb or preposition that you noticed? You could note the tense used. Was the conditional being used more in the professional vocabulary? Become familiar and comfortable with the language and it will do the work for you.
5 Top tips for developing your vocabulary
- Be a vocabulary detective – Both in day to day life and in healthcare situations, listen and learn. You will hear some words and phrases that come up time and time again. These are the ones to hang on to.
- Keep a vocabulary journal – Don’t just jot down words randomly. A really good method is writing down words and phrases in the style of a daily diary so that you remember the meaning and context.
- Reward yourself – Set yourself a target to use a certain amount of the words recorded in your journal every day with the people around you. Keep a record and give yourself a treat for your achievements!
- Don’t be shy! – The best language students are those who don’t care what other people think. If you don’t use new vocabulary regularly, you won’t retain and expand on it. So what if you get some things wrong? We all know that mistakes are the best way to learn.
- Join our OET Writing Correction service – Tutors at Benchmark Education will show you exactly what words you are using incorrectly and the precise term/phrase/word to write instead in your letter.