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EALTHY Magazine

A Good Read

English in the Medical Laboratory

A course for Trainee Medical Laboratory Technicians and Medical Students

John Swales and Paul Fanning

Catherine Richards
March 2019

English in the Medical Laboratory was first published in 1980. An oldy but a goody. It’s out of print but as I write this, two second hand copies are for sale on a well-known large online site…

Anyway, what a great little book this. The aim is to ‘enable students to respond more effectively to written instructions and to write their own reports more clearly and precisely’. My students don’t need to write reports in English but they certainly need to understand instructions in the form of lab protocols and test kit instructions. New apparatus with English instructions also need to be understood. When you’re a biomedical analyst there is no room for approximation and all instructions must be understood with 100% accuracy. Understanding Instructions are far more important than naming apparatus.

I use this book with my 1st year students. Most have no experience of lab work and won’t begin in the labs until their 2nd year. I pick what is relevant, rewrite it if necessary and link to authentic test kit and lab instructions.

The book is a fine example of ESP teaching material which works a treat when adaptations are made for relevancy and currency.