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Lesson Plan: Asking about current symptoms

Asking about current symptoms

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This lesson teaches language used when interviewing a patient and discussing their symptoms. It includes reading, vocabulary and speaking activities.

B2-C1 level

Teacher Notes

●    Topic: asking a patient about current symptom

●    Timing: 45 minutes

●    Lesson Type/Focus: speaking, reading and vocabulary


●      Speaking: discuss patient interviews, practise a doctor-patient interview

●      Reading: read for gist and specific information

●      Vocabulary: learn and review functional language for a patient interview



The focus of this lesson is the patient interview and asking about current symptoms. The speaking activity introduces the topic and gives students the opportunity to share their ideas and experience. The reading activity practises reading for gist and specific information and provides input for the lesson. The vocabulary activity introduces/reviews some functional language that can be used in the final speaking activity where students practise a patient interview.

Note: This lesson supports the language introduced in the following:

●       Course: English for Doctors: Advanced Communication Skills

●       Unit: Interviewing a Patient

●       Module: ‘The patient interview’ pages 3 and 5

Teaching Guide & Answer Key

Part 1: speaking

Put students into pairs or small groups and ask them to discuss questions 1–4 on the student worksheet. Encourage them to share examples from their own experience.


Do whole class feedback to discuss and share answers.

Suggested answers

  1. Why is it important to put the patient at ease before questioning?
    to encourage open and honest answers particularly when dealing with embarrassing or sensitive issues


  1. How can you put a patient at ease?
    ensure privacy, small talk or normalising comments, gaining consent, be aware of non-verbal clues


  1. What are the stages of a patient interview?
    establish a comfortable environment
    put patient at ease
    identify reasons for hospitalisation or appointment
    listen to patient carefully
    ask specific questions about symptoms
    agree a patient plan
    close the interview by asking if patient has further questions

  2. What should a doctor do before ending the conversation?
    provide the opportunity for patients to raise any concerns or ask any questions.

Download the complete lesson plan and student worksheet:


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