And then there’s medical English.
Even to native English speakers, medical English can seem like its own, complicated foreign language.
If you’re an English learner working in or studying the medical field, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by all the long, hard-to-pronounce terms.
On top of that, you’ll often need to switch back and forth between medical English with your colleagues and standard English with patients.
Starting to feel dizzy?
Don’t worry—we’ve got the perfect treatment.
In this article, we’ll show you some excellent resources to learn and practice medical English. These include formal classes, online lessons, online English courses and casual podcasts. Whether you’re a doctor, nurse, medical student, hospital manager, pharmacist or anyone else who needs to learn English for medicine, you’ll find something below to give your communication skills a healthy boost!
Just What the Doctor Ordered! 14 Top Resources to Learn Medical English
1. Online English for Medicine Lessons
With online lessons, you can develop your medical and professional English skills at a time and pace that works for you. That way, you can remember all of those medical words and phrases that aren’t usually talked about in casual conversations.
Here are some online courses to help you as you’re learning English for medicine:
Englishmed is a comprehensive website that teaches general medical English for people working in healthcare, as well as advanced English for doctors and nurses.
With Englishmed, you get free reading, writing, speaking and listening exercises for:
There are other helpful interactive features on the website, so you can practice the skills you learn in each lesson. These include animated dialogues and activities to help with learning grammar and medical terms.
MedicalEnglish.com is a paid English for medicine course that helps doctors, nurses and medical school students learn how to communicate in the medical industry. The program, which is intended for intermediate and advanced students, costs $9 a month and covers 20 topics, such as anatomy, mental health and dentistry.
The course is comprehensive and includes a number of activities that test reading, writing, listening, speaking and vocabulary knowledge. Students can study and complete assignments on their computer, smartphone and mobile device.
And everyone who passes the course is given a certificate saying they’ve completed the MedicalEnglish.com program. That’s a great boost to your CV if you’re looking for jobs in the medical field.
To become fluent in medical English, you need to learn how it’s used in real professional settings.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
Unlike traditional language learning sites, FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the English language and culture over time. You’ll learn English as it’s spoken in real life.
FluentU has a variety of engaging content from popular talk shows, nature documentaries and funny commercials, as you can see here:
FluentU makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you'll see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It even reminds you when it’s time to review! Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.
You can start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, by downloading the app from the iTunes or Google Play stores.
English Health Train
English Health Train is a free online medical course for ESL students studying advanced English for medicine. The site is designed specifically for medical students, doctors and nurses who’re studying or working in an English-speaking country.
English Health Train is one of the most comprehensive free courses on the internet. In total, its curriculum offers around 240 to 320 hours of coursework, depending on how quickly you learn. It’s designed just like a classroom curriculum and comes with five modules that cover different subjects of medical English, including:
Inside every module is a set number of units. Each unit contains a listening, pronunciation, reading and vocabulary exercise, as well as a practical exercise called “project work” that requires you to use your medical English skills in a real-world setting.
If you’d like to learn more about English Health Train, you can take a look at their activities for the first module here.
2. Medical Podcasts in English
Whether you’re learning English for medicine for the first time or you just want to brush up on your vocabulary, medical podcasts are a great tool.
Podcasts are perfect learning tools for people who don’t have the time to sit down and read textbooks or work through online courses. You can listen to them anywhere, like on the bus, in the kitchen while you’re cooking dinner or around the house while you’re cleaning. And since they cover up-to-date information, you get to learn about what’s new in the medical industry while improving your vocabulary and practicing your listening skills.
Reading and Listening for Medical Workers
This podcast is part of a professional ESL program called “Interesting Things for ESL Students.” Here, you can find podcasts and news articles covering different topics within medicine, such as:
While the podcast episodes don’t focus on advanced medical English, like anatomy or scientific terminology, it’s perfect for ESL students trying to learn general medical information.
Also, each episode comes with a script that you can read as you follow along.
Cancer Newsline from MD Anderson Cancer Center
As the name suggests, the episodes on the Cancer Newsline podcast focus primarily on cancer. It’s a great option for upper-intermediate and advanced students or professionals who need to communicate in a medical field where cancer is common. You can subscribe to it on iTunes here.
Even if you’re not going to work in oncology (the study and treatment of cancer), you should still give this site a visit. Halfway down the webpage, you’ll find a section called “I*CARE Video Gallery.”
There, you can watch a number of medical videos about:
- Giving bad news to patients and families
- How to communicate with patients
- Ways to better understand your patients
The video gallery has three categories that’ll expose you to a range of formal and conversational English speech: Roundtables (discussions), ACE Lectures (educational lectures) and Patients and Families (general information).
Health Check by the BBC
Health Check is a weekly podcast on disease and medicine around the world. The podcast is best suited for upper-intermediate and advanced students who’re already able to follow news broadcasts relatively easily. It’s great for anyone trying to stay current with events in medicine.
The podcast episodes cover a number of different topics, such as disease outbreaks in developing countries, the dangers of high blood pressure and how to improve your immune system. But remember, episodes only last for 30 days before the BBC removes them. So if you want to listen to a certain episode, don’t wait too long!
Surgery 101 is a podcast designed to help explain the different types of surgery and how they’re performed. The average podcast episode lasts between 10 and 15 minutes. They’re presented in a way that medical students and non-medical students can both benefit from.
The podcast episodes are separated into categories based on the type of surgical method, like cardiac surgery (for the heart), neurosurgery (for the brain) and pediatric surgery (for children). Fortunately, each category has a picture that makes it easy to understand if you don’t happen to know the word in English.
In addition to their website, Surgery 101 has a downloadable podcast on iTunes and a YouTube channel with various videos. Don’t worry—they’re not videos of real surgery procedures!
Instant Anatomy is a podcast available on iTunes that goes into detail about the different parts of the body. Here, you can learn English names for all the bones, organs, muscles and other parts of the body, as well as what each body part does.
The podcast is great for ESL students learning more about the human body, but it’s designed with medical students in mind—not ESL students specifically. For this reason, it might be a little difficult for anyone who isn’t already an advanced English speaker.
Along with downloading the podcast on iTunes, you can visit the Instant Anatomy website and download the notes for each lesson. Here, you can find detailed, labeled drawings of each part of the body covered in the episode.
Medical Terminology Systems
Medical Terminology Systems is a podcast for medical students that talks about the different types of systems in the body, as well what they do and what their names mean in basic English. You can learn about topics like the digestive system, the nervous system and the reproductive system in English.
Also, you’ll notice that the Medical Terminology System’s podcast is made to complement the “Medical Terminology Systems” textbook. It’s important to note that you don’t need this textbook to benefit from the podcast. The podcast helps you learn how to pronounce and memorize different systems in the body so that you’re able to talk about them without using advanced medical terms.
3. Learn English for Medicine in the Classroom
Along with learning at home through online programs and podcasts, you can also enroll in intensive in-person medical English courses. These courses are designed specifically for ESL students who plan on working in medicine or going to medical school in an English-speaking country.
The benefit of learning in a physical classroom is that the curriculum is usually flexible enough to help both intermediate and advanced English speakers learn medical English. Also, classroom lessons are great for students who need in-person assistance from an instructor from time to time.
In-class lessons typically get filled up quickly, so always make sure to apply a few months in advance. And if the program has already ended, email customer service or frequently check the website to see when a new course begins.
Here are a few popular English for medicine programs in various countries:
Medical English as a Foreign Language (EFL) for Nurses
Location: McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
This is a two-week intensive workshop that teaches nurses how to use English when talking with doctors and patients. Students also get the opportunity to observe nurses in the hospital, go on day trips and learn about how hospitals work in Canada.
The price is $3,150 Canadian Dollars (approximately $2,400 USD).
UC San Diego Extension Medical English Course
Location: University of California-San Diego, California, U.S.
The UC San Diego medical English program is a four-week international program that offers an 80-hour course and a 60-hour course. Both of these courses teach students how to use English in the medical profession, but the 80-hour course is more intensive and includes guest speakers, field trips and hands-on exercises.
You’ll learn how to communicate in a hospital setting, from taking medical histories to medical writing. You’ll also learn about the healthcare system in the U.S.
The tuition for the 80-hour program is $2,500 and the 60-hour program costs $2,200. The tuition price doesn’t include textbooks and additional fees, which are around $645.
Wimbledon School of English Medical English Course
Location: Wimbledon School of English, London, England.
The Medical English Course gives intermediate and advanced English students the chance to learn medical English in the classroom. Students can choose between a three-week course that begins in January or a two-week intensive program in July.
The tuition for the three-week program is £295 per week (approximately 390 USD) and the intensive two-week program is £345 per week (approximately 450 USD).
English for Medical Professionals at Lexis English
Location: Lexis English, multiple locations, Australia
This program teaches intermediate and advanced learners how to speak English while working as doctors, nurses, therapists, dentists, pharmacists and general healthcare professionals.
Programs vary between four to 12 weeks depending on whether you learn full-time or part-time. A new class begins every month of the year, either at the end or the beginning of the month, and courses are held at Lexis English campuses in:
- Sunshine Coast
Tuition fees vary depending on the campus, so make sure to ask about fees when enrolling in the program.
Learning medicine might not be easy, but with these resources, learning how to talk about it in English can be. With a little bit of practice every week, you’ll be talking like a doctor in no time.
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