Hello, my name is Virginia Allum. I write materials to help candidates prepare for the Occupational English Test. This short video is about predicting the language you may use in a role play. I will add the transcript for this video to my blog on the English for nursing and healthcare.com website so you can read it as you watch the video.
I am often asked to write more sample role plays about new topics but …is this really necessary? Of course, it always helps to have knowledge of new vocabulary or specific vocabulary. But, it’s often more important to think about the sort of language you tend to use in the role plays. Before you start any conversation, the natural thing is to think about the ‘topic’ of the conversation. So you will gather terms which you may need to use in the role play but you also have to think about how you are going to get your message across. I’d like to talk about this aspect of the role plays in this short video.
You may have noticed that some role plays share expressions. For example,
Talking about making lifestyle changes: this will often be a discussion about weight loss and exercise programmes. Perhaps also a discussion about quitting smoking or cutting down.
Talking about dietary changes – more fibre, less sugar, less fat.
Explaining discharge information after an operation – talking about managing a dressing and removal of sutures. Also, post-operative exercises.
Assessing pain relief – using a pain scale, talking about quality of pain, duration.
Talking about pain relief immediately after an operation –using a PCA, changing to oral pain relief.
Talking about pain relief on discharge – need to start with simple painkillers, taken regularly.
Because you may be talking about similar things, albeit in different situations, try to practise using the expressions you may need. For example, It’s important to continue your weight loss programme. You need to take the painkillers regularly through the day so your pain level doesn’t build up.
Another group of role plays are the ‘persuading’ role plays. You may be persuading a patient to stay in hospital for observation after a minor head injury. Persuading a patient to wait for a blood test result. Or, persuading a patient to accept support at home e.g. Meals on Wheels, home assessment to put in aids to ensure safety in the home.
Finally, there are role plays where a parent is worried or upset about something that has happened to a child. Remember that parents with ill or injured children tend to be anxious and often feel guilty about what has happened. These role plays ask you to reassure and minimise negative feelings. So, you’ll need to use empathetic language.
Empathetic language will also be used in another group of role plays, namely ones where you are dealing with an aggressive patient or relative. These role plays may also include a complaint.
What am I saying by grouping role plays? What I mean is that, although the topic of the role play will influence you, it’s very important to decide what sort of language you are being asked to showcase during the role play. If you are presented with a surgical role play, you can draw on the expressions you’ve practised before to talk about pain relief and wound care.
It helps to practise with a friend, ideally another OET candidate. Set up a conversation where you explain about pain relief and dressings. Have your partner think of some of the interruptions you might expect. Things like But what if the pain level is really bad after the operation? What if I get a wound infection…how will know? Anticipate these interruptions. What are you going to say?
Obviously, you can’t guess everything the interlocutor will say but you can guess quite a lot. An example is talking about dressings. What are some of the things you can say to the patient?
You need to change the dressing every two days.
You need to keep the dressing clean and dry.
It’s a good idea to cover it with a plastic bag before you have a shower.
As you can see, these are fairly general statements but can be used in a number of scenarios.
What sort of things might the patient ask?
Will you show me how to change the dressing?
What about the dressings…do I have to buy them at the chemist’s?
What if I can’t do the dressing myself?
Can I have a bath instead of a shower?
Be ready with your answers…You might say things like
Sure, I’ll show you how to do the dressing before you go home.
No, you don’t need to buy any. I’ll give you some dressings before you go home.
It’s better to have a shower rather than a bath because there’s less risk of infection.
Keep a glossary of terms which crop up frequently when you are practising the role plays. For instance, terms about wounds, pain assessment, dressings, sutures, medications etc. Practise using the terms in your own dialogues so you are more confident during the actual test. Look at sample role plays and notice the use of particular expressions. Use the samples as a guide for your own dialogues rather than copying them word for word.