In our English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, lessons are not limited to the traditional classroom setting. Instructors encourage students to learn by experiencing and once a semester they create a real-life scenario where students need to use English.
This November, Hope CommUnity Center staged a hospital experience for 11 students in Level 2 and 3 ESL classes. They played the part of ailing patients, while teachers and volunteers served as nurses and doctors. For one class period, students had to use their new language skills to communicate with medical personnel and get treatment.
Prior to the exercise, our two morning classes studied a variety of topics related to health and medicine. Instructors reviewed ways to describe health issues in English, explained routine parts of a hospital visit, and discussed how the U.S. health care system operates. Students also received and memorized fictional patient profiles for the exercise.
Once inside the hospital, students had to move through three phases of an out-patient visit. In Phase 1, students checked in at the reception desk and completed paperwork in the waiting room. This part required students to write down details about their current problems, medical history and insurance coverage. In Phase 2, a doctor interviewed each student about his or her ailments. The challenge here was to hold a conversation in English. Finally, in Phase 3, a staff member walked them through the payment process and discussed follow-up care.
In the end, the classes came away from the hospital experience feeling enlightened and less anxious about dealing with English-speaking doctors. HCC Adult Education Director Bea Beardsworth said the exercise made her students feel more comfortable speaking about their health in English. “They picked up so much vocabulary from the medical intake forms and our class discussions,” she said. Volunteers playing the role of doctors also noticed the students’ growing language abilities. They were surprised when several students decided to put aside the fictional patient profiles and discuss their real-life health conditions. Hopefully, with a little more practice, language will become less of a concern for these students when they visit doctors.
Our cast of hospital players included:
– Mike Caroline
– Tavia Farguharson
– Bob McIntosh
– Linda Smith
– Maggie Woods
– A City of Apopka Paramedic
Our “hospital” was provided by Danny Summerlin, the youth pastor at First United Methodist Church of Apopka.