ESL Health Care Discussion Questions

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

When we use health care as a discussion topic for our English as a second language (ESL) students, they not only put their conversational skills to work but also learn new vocabulary, as we'll cover in this lesson.

Readiness Through Vocabulary

Health care is certainly a topic that requires specific vocabulary. For this reason, our ESL students not only practice conversation when they talk about health care but also learn new words. Before you give your ESL students a health care question to discuss, make sure they know some useful vocabulary, such as the meaning of 'health care.' Depending on the level of your students, you can either elicit the concept from them or simply give them a definition.

Once your ESL students understand the term 'health care', have them brainstorm some other words they'll use in their discussions - like 'doctor', 'nurse', or 'treatment' - either in pairs or groups. Depending on the discussion questions, you could also add some useful vocabulary words, such as 'primary care', 'general practitioner', and 'disease prevention.'

Now, let's explore the types of questions we can give our students to discuss.

Questions About Health Care Systems

The vast majority of our ESL students would look at health care from the 'patient' or 'user' point of view. The following questions are about health care systems:

  • Would you say a health care system that is free for all can work? Why or why not?
  • How does the health care system in your country of origin work?
  • What characteristics would you say the perfect health care system should have? Explain each characteristic.
  • What attitudes do doctors and nurses have towards patients? Describe the experiences you or your family members have had and how you felt.
  • Do you think the population in general needs more education about primary care? Talk about the reasons why primary care is important.
  • What is your view of health insurance companies? Are they a necessary part of health care?
  • How does the price of health care in your home country compare to where you live now? In your opinion, what are the reasons for the differences?
  • Do you think the U.S. government provides enough information about the health care system?
  • Are you familiar with the hospitals or doctors in your area? Talk about the services they provide.
  • Think about a commercial that recommends a medication that you've often see on television. What is the medication for? What does the commercial say about it?
  • What is your opinion of health care systems that allow new moms to have a 3-month leave to stay at home with their babies?

Questions about Personal Health

When talking about health care, it is important to make our students aware of the role personal responsibility plays in their health. Here are some questions about personal health:

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