Specialist Language Courses

Discover OET Seminar and Workshop – some Reflections

OET Courses SLC

We’re delighted to report that the Discover OET seminar and workshop was a resounding success.

Who attended

The sheer variety present and the engagement with what the speakers were saying shows the impact a high-stakes, profession-specific test such as the OET is having on so many parties. Clearly the recent acceptance of the OET by the NMC and GMC for nurses and doctors wishing to register in the UK has significance – not only for the individuals concerned, but for those recruiting, employing, regulating, training and testing them.

Where else in the world of English Language Teaching could you find a room packed with so many different people and organisations?

The attendees included representatives from medical universities from different parts of Europe (including Italy, Germany, Poland and Romania), NHS Trusts, private healthcare providers, policy experts from the GMC and NMC, international healthcare recruitment companies, English language schools, online trainers, the European Association for Medical English teachers, test centres, digital materials providers, publishers and booksellers, not mention OET itself.

Healthcare English Testing and Training

Simon Beeston, UK and Ireland Stakeholder Director for OET, highlighted in his talk how the test had been developed specifically with and for medical professionals. This is reflected in the content and tasks in the test – from listening to consultations, reading and taking notes on medical texts, writing referral letters, or participating in roleplays with patients.

The latter was brought to life by Bethan Edwards and Jo Langford from the SLC Academic team, who involved attendees in an OET Speaking Test roleplay on whiplash. Attendees were able to see how the content of the OET has been designed specifically to scenarios professionals may encounter at work. They got a clear idea of the kind of language candidates need to deploy in the test and the attendant challenges, not only linguistic but also cultural and behavioural as they sought to listen to and reassure an upset patient.

Huge early interest in OET

Although the OET is not a new test – it has been used by healthcare regulators in Australia for over 20 years – it still remains largely unknown in the UK. However, with the recent decisions by the NMC and GMC, interest in the test has suddenly escalated. International House London, the seminar hosts mentioned that in November there was one candidate for the test, whereas now they are delivering hundreds every month across their test centres.

At SLC, given our background in Medical English and the work we have historically done for NHS Trusts and private healthcare groups, we’re naturally delighted with the decision to recognise OET. We have run a number of early OET preparation courses for nurses and doctors, preparing them for the test.

The feedback has been very positive, with participants stating that they felt highly motivated by studying language that felt both familiar and meaningful. Our trainers – trained and using materials developed as part of the OET Premium Preparation Provider programme – have also found learners to be engaged, hard-working and keen to succeed.

Positive Early Results

The early results have also been positive, something International House also highlighted. We were able to share the scores achieved by a group we prepared for the test on behalf of OET. Nurses based in the UK, India and the Philippines were taught in an online classroom on a course consisting of 100 hours’ tuition over 10 weeks. Six of the eight participants took the test in April and five of them achieved the four Grade Bs required by the NMC. Attendees at the seminar agreed that this was tremendously encouraging and a sign that the OET is the right test for overseas medical professionals aiming to register in the UK and help fill the thousands of vacancies across the health service.


Want more information about SLC’s OET courses and study materials? Please contact Peter Rodway on peter@specialistlanguagecourses.com or use the form below. The Discover OET Seminar and Workshop was held on May 18th, and co-hosted by SLC, International House London and EALTHY, the European Association of Language Teachers for Healthcare.