Baffled by what native-speaker patients say? 3 ways to boost listening
In addition to the usual grumbles:
They speak so fast.
I have trouble with the accent.
I can’t catch the individual words.
I also hear:
What do “crook” and “woozy” mean?
Are a “sore tummy”, a “belly ache” and a “stomach ache” all the same?
What’s the difference between “come up”, “bring up” and “throw up”?
Where’s the “funny bone”?
Sometimes, native-speaker patients may not know how to adjust their communication to make it easier for non-native speakers to get the message.
And especially when patients are feeling off-colour (unwell) and worried, they may keep repeating themselves and become frustrated when they’re not understood.
So here are 3 ways to practise listening to patients:
- Learn the informal words and phrases native-speaker adults and children use. Medical English books and websites often have lists.
- Watch medical soap operas, like General Hospital (US), Doctors (UK) and Shortland Street (NZ) to get used to accent, speed, everyday expressions and to see examples of interactions with patients.
- Role play with native speakers – I can help you.
There’s no instant cure.
But practice speeds up the time it takes to go from being puzzled and perplexed when listening to comfortable and confident.
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© Christina Wielgolawski