teacher guidelines



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The English Health Train curriculum is based on a learner-centered approach, which takes into account the whole participant and goes well beyond practicing discrete language skills. Its ultimate aim is to increase the confidence immigrant health care professionals need to overcome the various obstacles they encounter in trying to achieve their goals in the U.S.

English Health Train utilizes a content-based and task-based approach to merge relevant, up-to-date health care content with intensive language practice. The language focus and communicative practice emerges from the content. All four language skills—listening, speaking, reading, and writing are practiced in meaningful contexts in each unit, and key skills and themes are recycled throughout the course.

The learners' role is to participate actively in their own learning, combining their existing expertise with content to learn to express themselves in health care settings. There is a broad range of opportunities for English language practice through day-to-day situations, language functions, and authentic texts. The course also promotes self-development and self-assessment within a process of ongoing improvement for participants.

Each online unit consists of five types of activities which integrate English language skills.

Exploring the Topic

The purpose of these activities in each unit is to activate the student’s prior knowledge about the topic and related language, as well as to provide a focus for the unit theme and lesson topics. The tasks can be carried out through discussion (face-to-face or online), writing, or reflection. This section also serves as a warm-up for the listening tasks in each unit.

Listening Task

The listening segments present a wide variety of real-world situations and speakers in health care settings. Students listen to dialogues, monologues, interviews, and mini-lectures in order to complete both global and discrete listening comprehension tasks.

Language Focus

The focused language practice emerges from the healthcare-based content of the curriculum. The tasks here heighten students’ awareness of and proficiency in the accurate use of language functions, grammar forms, vocabulary, and pronunciation in English.

Reading & Vocabulary

The authentic readings here take the theme of the unit further in having students explore a related topic and gain a wide range of receptive vocabulary. Following each reading, there are comprehension and inference questions about the reading, as well as a vocabulary exercise. Students can be encouraged to keep vocabulary notebooks or logs to keep track of and review new vocabulary grouped according to topic.

Project Work

The project in each unit is meant to provide students with further communication skills practice, research skills development, and the opportunity to apply the unit content to their own health care fields. For example, the project for a unit on career pathways has students research and chart requirements on the web for three relevant health professions they want to pursue; a unit on communicating with patients has students observe effective questioning and interviewing techniques that are applicable to health care situations; and a unit on communicating with co-workers has them do a self-assessment on their own assertiveness skills.


This website provides sample activities for each unit. For the full curriculum, contact the San Francisco Welcome Back Center.


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