Where teachers meet and learn

Oxford English for Careers

Medicine 1                                                                                                                          

Sam McCarter

Oxford University Press, 2009

Student’s Book, ISBN 978-0-19-402300-9

Class Audio CD, ISBN 978-0-19-402303-0

Medicine 2

Sam McCarter

Oxford University Press, 2010

Student's Book, ISBN 978-0-19-456956-9

Class Audio CD, ISBN) 978-0-19-456958-3

Nursing 2

Tony Grice and James Greenan

Oxford University Press, 2009

Student's Book, ISBN  978-0-19-456988-0

Class Audio CD, ISBN  978-0-19-456991-0

These three books are part of the Oxford University Press series Oxford English for Careers, and are mainly aimed at English courses for non-native doctors and nurses who want to work in the UK, although they may of course be used by medical staff in Switzerland. They assume medical or nursing training and knowledge, and systematically develop vocabulary and the four skills in preparation for work. The emphasis is on effective and sympathetic communication with patients and colleagues. Levels range from B1-B2 (Nursing) to B2+ and C2 (Medicine). All books in the series have a Teacher’s Resource Book to advise teachers on medical information and extra activities.

In Medicine 1 and 2, each unit is structured in the same way, with a warm-up, focus on a particular doctor’s job, patient care, vocabulary, grammar spotlight, and extensive skills work. Topics are varied, e.g. ward rounds, symptoms, psychiatry, death and dying, team communication, instructions, medications, and always offer some practice in doctor-patient interaction. Grammar reference, listening scripts, a glossary, and list of abbreviations are found at the end of the book. Thus, the book is extremely ambitious in its coverage, although some aspects have inevitably been given rather cursory treatment.

First to the strong points. The medical conversations on the CD are semi-authentic (scripted in natural-sounding language) and use both native and non-native speakers of English from all over the world. These conversations often lead into pronunciation practice and speaking activities, which seem realistic and necessary for doctors to get right. The topics and interactions are typical and well chosen. The vocabulary work is also well conceived and supported by both the website and the book. In my opinion, these aspects alone make Medicine 1 and 2 worth using.

Not as good were the grammar and reading sections. Reading activities are based on a so-called reading bank of articles in the middle of the book. Unfortunately, these articles are not at all typical of what a doctor might want to read, being articles from general magazines and newspapers. The grammar points are also a bit feeble, seeming more like window dressing than a real attempt to teach doctors grammar, but were probably included just to make the book look complete.

Nursing 2 (which was the book sent to me) has a format similar to the books for doctors. Here the 15 unit topics are nursing specialties, e.g. accidents, obstetrics, dermatology, surgery, psychiatry, and so on. Every lesson focuses on aspects of patient care and symptoms as well as hospital team interaction, and gives practice in the four skills plus vocabulary and grammar. The skills exercises are good (the reading and writing exercises are authentic here) and vocabulary is well developed. Grammar work is once again a bit thin, but this is not necessarily a bad thing in a book with so much scope already.

Heather Murray