I have tried to talk about some ways that you/your students can improve on the four skills (reading,writing,speaking and listening). As teachers, we know that this takes practice, however,many people leave it too late to start laying the groundwork. We have all been there!
I used to periodically harangue my students with the strong advice that they start a notebook and add terms or phrases as they heard them. The notebook needed to be small enough to go into a bag or pocket. It needed to be looked at frequently. The words needed to be spoken aloud - to a willing friend or relative, if possible. All these actions start to establish the vocabulary in the brain and memory. But it takes time and it must be a frequent action.
So, on to the forum post:
1. Passing an English test to be able to register as a nurse. This website has all the information you needhttp://www.nursingmidwiferyboard.gov.au/. Look at Criterion 2 - this is the section about English language competency. You need to do either the IELTS or the OET (Occupational English Test). More and more nurses seem to be doing the OET these days. This is why I now teach online courses for OET Writing and Speaking. You can find information about the structure of the OET at http://www.occupationalenglishtest.org/.
2. Develop the skills:
I can give you some hints now on preparing for each section yourself:
Reading - you may be given 4 short texts on the same topic. Then you complete a gapfill text. You have to work out where the information is in the 4 texts. Often, the gapfill uses expressions from the text but in different words.
The skill you need to develop is SCANNING FOR KEYWORDS. It's a good idea to read as many health texts as you can. Print out the text you are reading and take a highlighter pen to find the 1 -2 keywords in each sentence.
Also, learn how to read statistical information. Find examples of tables of numbers e.g. relating to a study.
A good place to find articles is Medscape (www.medscape.com). It is free to register and you can then look at any article on the site.
Listen - this is quite difficult as you may get an unfamiliar topic. The speed is quite fast. You may not be familiar with the Australian accent. Once again, try to listen to as many podcasts as you can (ABC Radio-the Health Report is good). Start listening for the keywords in each sentence. Remember that people often put a bit of emphasis on keywords.
Writing - this is very challenging for many people. You will usually have to write a referral letter, perhaps to a Community Nurse or a Clinic Nurse. You have 1 - 2 pages of stimulus materials to read. This is like a patient summary that you find when you work in a hospital. It will contain admission and discharge information, past medical history and social history. There are usually a few abbreviations which you need to understand. You scan the materials for relevant information and then write a letter of 180-200 words. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to make any notes during the 5 minutes reading time. You must set out the letter using the correct letter format.Many people have difficulties setting out the address and salutation (e.g. Dear Mr So-and-so,)
Speaking - This consists of 2 role plays. You will be given a role play card with the scenario and task. You will be the nurse. The interviewer is the patient. It is important to know that the interviewer is not marking you - that is done by other people after listening to the recording of your role play. Each role play is 5 minutes long. You need to show that you can start the conversation and keep it flowing in a natural way.It does not matter if you are unfamiliar with the health topic of the role play - it is the ability to communicate effectively that is being tested.The interviewer may try to take you off track or play the part of a patient who does not want to listen to your advice. You have to be able to deal with this.
If you choose the IELTS, the structure is similar,i.e.Reading, Writing,Speaking and Listening are tested. The advantage of the OET is that you may have more understanding of the topics. Some people prefer the OET, some do not. It's a personal choice. It's a good idea to go to the websites of IELTS and OET and look at the sample materials before deciding.In the end though, you must do an English test and pass at a fairly high level (minimum of 7 in each section for IELTS, minimum of B in each section for OET).