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English for Nursing-vocabulary activities

Date of Publication


Target Group


Domain Area

Medicine & Nursing

Learning Scenario

Classroom Context

Target Language


Language of Instruction


CEFR level


Type of Material


Linguistic Features





This resource is photocopiable material from the teacher’s book Cambridge “English for Nursing Intermediate to Upper intermediate” made available online by Cambridge University Press. In it, you can find several proposals of activities based on vocabulary related to the area of medicine and nursing. Depending on the vocabulary unit the lecturer is focusing on, he can choose one (or several) activities among the ones presented. By transforming these vocabulary activities into the form of games, the activities will surely become more engaging for the learners. Here, we indicate one. With these activities, learners can thus learn and practice vocabulary which be very useful in their professional lives in any context.

Case study

The resource can be quickly accessed without any technical problems, and as stated in the aforementioned comments, simple and direct instructions for a number of vocabulary/word games allow these activities to be smoothly implemented, using a set of game-based activities to introduce fun into the process of learning highly technical language and abbreviations.
Given the nature of interaction between both health professionals - the focus here being on nursing – and health professionals and patients and patients’ family – I would add a more communicative activity in which the technical vocabulary/abbreviations and/or their definitions could be seen and understood in a ‘real-life’ context.
Although scenarios could be devised for all of the units and the respective vocabulary in the resource, I would suggest doing this activity at the start of the course with ‘Unit 1 Patient admissions’ to establish expectations of seeing the technical terms applied in real life.
- Two nurses are chosen from among the students who then role play ‘handing over’ a patient, that is, the outgoing nurse informs the incoming nurse of the patient’s progress and patient care.
- As they role play the handover, the two nurses use abbreviations previously learned through one or more of the vocabulary games in the resource (e.g. “How is Mr Brown’s BP [blood pressure] today?”). The other students watching the role play must note whether the abbreviations are appropriately used. Plus, they should note down the meanings of the abbreviations to reinforce vocabulary acquisition.
- Conversely, the dialogue may contain the long forms of words/expressions used, and the students watching need to identify what abbreviation could be used.
Generally speaking, dialogue provides a springboard and opportunity to apply technical and professional terminology in interactive situations which are likely to be representative of future professional exchanges.
Lecturers may select more confident students initially to carry out these activities more effectively and to build up class-bonding.


We selected one suggestion of an activity to practise vocabulary within 3 major categories: respiratory problems + wound care + diabetes
This activity could be used as a way of practising and consolidating vocabulary, either taking a whole lesson doing this or take 20 minutes before the end of the lesson to do it. Make sure you eliciting some vocabulary that students will find in the slips of paper so that they know the words and their definitions.
We quote the instructions as given in the resource:
For this activity you will need to select a number of units where the words and abbreviations fall into clearly defined categories. For example,
respiratory problems + wound care + diabetes
Before the lesson, make enough copies of the units that you want to focus on for each group to have a set. Shuffle all the cards for each group together and put into an envelope.
Divide the class into small groups. Get each group to sit at a separate table so that they have space to spread out the cards. Give an envelope of cards to each group. Explain that the aim is to sort the words and definitions into categories in the areas of nursing that they are connected with. You can list the categories on the board, or, to make it more challenging, leave this for the students to work out. You could set a time limit for the activity with the winner being the first to sort out all, or most of, their cards correctly. To check the words and categories, you can either elicit the answers and put them on the board or ask the groups to swap tables and check each others’ work.”


Comprehensive approach
Capacity to match the needs of lecturers and students


Added value
The provided tangible improvements


Motivation enhancement
The capacity to motivate students to improve their language skills


Effectiveness in introducing innovative, creative and previously unknown approaches to LSP learning


Measurement of the transferable potential and possibility to be a source of further capitalisation/application for other language projects in different countries


Skills assessment and validation
Availability of appropriate tools for lecturers to monitor students’ progress and for students to assess own progress and to reflect on learning


Flexibility of the contents and possibilities for the LSP lecturers to adapt the contents to their and to students’ need


Assess the technical usability from the point of view of the lecturer and the student


Assess the accessibility from the point of view of the lecturer and the student


This resource is really easy to understand as the language used is simple and straightforward, with clear instructions about the activity(ies). It matches both the lecturers and students’ needs by providing suggestions of engaging activities, aiming at expanding and practicing technical vocabulary related to nursing and medicine. It is easily accessible. One just needs to click the link and immediately are shown the resource (pdf from a teacher’s book). Games are creative and boost the students’ motivation. Through play, students learn effectively that is why this resource has added value as it will definitely account for the learning of students.
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