I'm interested in the possibility of teaching English for medical purposes. I've been doing volunteer English teaching to Asian immigrants here in New Zealand and really enjoy it; I'm in my mid 50's, a UK qualified radiographer (UK passport holder) with overseas experience and more than ready to leave day-to-day hospital work.
I'm contemplating taking a CELTA course in the next few months, continuing with the voluntary teaching for a year or two, then going back to Europe or maybe to Asia to do a few years EFL teaching. I keep reading that medical English is in increasing demand, and think I would be ideally placed as far as prior experience goes.
What are the prospects for an older person?
My radiography qualification was not a degree when I did it, but is considered "degree-equivalent" as nowadays it is a degree. Of course it is a science degree, not a BA ...

I'm very interested to hear any and all opinions on this.
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Does no one have any opinions or ideas on this? Anyone experienced in teaching medical English want to comment? Anyone looking to learn want to give me their opinion?
The hospital where I currently work has referred a couple of patient's relatives to me for tuition ( they need to learn more than normal conversational English in order to manage the patient's current and long term needs in conjunction with medical and nursing staff) which is encouraging.
Hi, Liz:
I am a Nursing Instructor in Canada who teaches English for Nurses and Medical Personnel on the side (as my private business). I have a number of strong opinions about who should teach English for Medical Purposes and who should not. I think you will absolutely qualify as soon as you get your TESL or TEFL or CELTA... whichever you prefer. I believe classes should be based within the context of health and medicine and be focused on acquisitional learning rather than cognitive/behavioural learning of rules, structure and rote memory. That means a highly interactive class full of professional health care personnel who have already had basic English. That is what makes EMP an English for Specific Purposes type of course. Focus is on usage of language.
If you would like more information, please visit my 2 websites at www.e4on.ca and www.nursingesl.com .
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Thanks for your reply. I admit I already have opinions on who should and should not teach this type of English - and I think there are several people in our hospital who share those opinions too - hence the referrals to me, "unqualified" though I am, rather than to a "lay" EFL teacher. I would imagine that it would be a necessity for health care personnel in this type of situation to be competent in basic conversational English before taking a specific purpose course - but I know some health care personnel here ( unemployed ones!) who do not agree with me. Hmmm - I wonder why they are employed??

Do you find that much of class time covers specifically cultural learning? Or does it all fall together with language and communication?
hi ..

.lookimg for information on english teaching for nurses i found your intresting topic and followed the discusion ...! i am an English Teacher with not on hell any medical information !:(( ! just a clinical center s asking me to manage some english classes for the nurses in order to be able to communicate to the international patients ...! i m confused wether i can do this job or not...! and i ll be most happy to get any other useful tip or experience record from you ...

novin from Iran

So you are the famous Melodie Hull:)

I visited your website and it was very informational. I am a nurse as well and I am considering teaching medical english too.

I am from the US and fluent in English. I trained as a nurse practitioner and also work in clinical research. I have a question about the need to get TESL or any type

of certification. 1) What is the value of these certifications if one is already fluent in english and has taught professionals as part of their professional career? I teach adults at work all the time.

2) If I have a web-based business for international students, do I still need TESL certification if I am not traveling abroad to teach? Thanks!
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Hello Liz

I am a Physiotherapist with a CELTA certificate. I teach medical English in Poland. The school I work at specialises in teaching to nurses (general, scrubs, ICU, midwifery), doctors (GPs), dentists, physios and radiographers. If I can give you a word of advice. Get a CELTA certificate. You will learn how to teach English with a medical context and not make the mistake of reteaching students radiography or any other medical subject.

Good luck
Dear Loretta:

Thank-you for your letter. It is always interesting to hear from someone with a similar background or interest. Let me answer some of your questions for you. I want to share with you what I have learned over the years in this business. I hope I can be blunt?

1) You asked: what is the value of these certifications if one is already fluent in english and has taught professionals as part of their professional career? I teach adults at work all the time.
My response: This is a common question for people who want to teach at any an all levels of ESL.
a) Simply being fluent in a language doesn’t make you good at it. Think of all the regional dialects and inner city dialects of English just in the USA alone. Surely to goodness you can see this? This question (and I know from experience) is perceived as incredibly rude and un-knowing by those people who have spent the time, effort and dedication learning how to teach language.
b) I am on faculty teaching nursing in a university program, full time. There is a great deal of difference in teaching in a program and curriculum (particularly a program that moves in a lengthy step wise progression) than there is in teaching patient groups and communities in short programs. I have done both of these (because I am a nurse) and am able to compare and contrast the two.
c) This statement could be perceived as diminishing the importance of teaching programs everywhere. It suggests that just because a nurse has experience ‘teaching adults at work all the time’ that he/she might just as well apply for a teaching job in general education! Can you see where I am going with this? Ouch. It devalues the importance of undergraduate, graduate and PhDs/MEds in education. What if the teachers were to say this about nursing?
d) What is the value? Well, if you wish to teach in a school of any merit, you will need this type of credential, for the reasons I have just cited. If you don’t mind teaching at ‘any old language school’ of questionable repute and wages, then the credential isn’t necessary. Please don’t let that discourage you. You can always, always find work without the TESL certification and this is a FANTASTIC WAY to see the world. FANTASTIC. It just depends on your personal plans.

2) You asked: if I have a web-based business for international students, do I still need TESL certification if I am not traveling abroad to teach?
My response: no, you don’t really ever NEED to have the TESL, as I’ve said. But having it will improve your credibility exponentially.

Just in closing, I’d like to share a bit about myself so that you will see I am speaking from experience. I am a native English speaker. I studied French in school. I started my young adult years teaching English at Berlitz School of Languages and this helped pay for part of my nursing education. In later years, I picked up the TESL Certificate because I wanted to travel and work teaching English. Then I picked up Spanish! Throughout all of this, I have been a career nurse & nursing instructor first and foremost. I have a post-graduate diploma in Adult Education and a Masters of Science in Administration (Health focus). In the next couple of months I will graduate with a Masters of Education in TESOL. I believe I have a very, very solid background in language studies, adult education and nursing combined. That is why I have been able to build up a reputation for English for Nurses and English for Medical Purposes worldwide.

Loretta, you have a fabulous background in Nursing and I would really like to encourage you to pursue your idea to teach Medical English. Those of us who are dually trained (Nursing and ESL) are very, very rare. It’s a challenging but rewarding niche market to get into!

Yours very truly,

Melodie Hull, RPN, MSC, BA, TESL, PID, MED (candidate)
Nurse-Educator & Consultant
Ps: Yikes, just one more thing. If you wish to be seen as a credible English language teacher, you must, must use proper grammar and capitalize titles, names and proper nouns as appropriate, especially if you are posting on the web. (Just a friendly hint.)
Excellent point, Chris!

Melodie Hull,

PS: I believe the person you were responding to is named Loretta (but it says 'anonymous' on her letter.
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