Specialist Language Courses

Lesson Plan: Taking Observations: Pupil Reaction

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This lesson teaches the language used when describing the eye and pupil reactions. It includes communication, vocabulary and reading activities.

B2-C1 level

Teacher Notes

●    Topic: the eye and pupil reaction

●    Timing: 40–60 minutes

●    Lesson Type/Focus: speaking, vocabulary and reading


●      Speaking: discuss taking observations, practise explaining medical terms in a patient-friendly way

●      Reading: read for specific information

●      Vocabulary: learn and review language for parts of the eye and describing pupil reaction


The focus of this lesson is the language used when taking observations, focusing on the eye and pupil reaction. The speaking activity introduces the topic and gives students the opportunity to share their ideas and experience. The vocabulary activity introduces/reviews key vocabulary. The reading activity introduces some more related language and practises reading for specific information. The final speaking activity uses language from the lesson to practise explaining medical terms to patients.

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

●       Course: English for Doctors: Advanced Communication Skills

●       Unit: Taking Observations

●       Module: ‘Discussing neurological changes’ pages 8 and 9

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. What do you know about taking observations?

Students’ own answers many include

they are an important part of keeping an eye on patients’ progress
simple to do; BP and pulse changes can indicate serious problems like shock or sepsis as can changes in respirations; oxygen saturation levels give an indication of how well the lungs are functioning
some people argue that pain assessment should be part of routine observations


  1. What are the different ways we can take observations?
    Students’ own answers may include

observations (BP, pulse, oxygen sats) can be taken with a digital machine or manually
pulse can be taken using two fingers and a time piece and respirations can be taken by observing the chest rising and falling and timing it


  1. Why do we need to observe the patient as well as ask questions?
    Students’ own answers may include

some patients don’t like to bother the doctor by admitting to having changes to their vital signs

they may also be worried that any change means they have a serious problem and choose to ignore it
some changes like hypertension are not noticed until levels are seriously high (this is why hypertension is called the silent killer)

  1. What parts of the body give us most information about the patient?

Students’ own answers may include

the skin e.g. by observing changes such as a flushed face, a doctor can make some assumptions about the patient’s BP
any part of the body that the patient is guarding, e.g. holding onto the elbow may indicate that it is painful

Download the complete lesson plan and student worksheet:


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