Communication Basics

An I-BEST Unit for Nursing Assistant with ESL Support

Developed by Penny Mortier, ESL Instructor
School of Adult and General Education Central New Mexico Community College


“Our class is designed for Low Advanced ESL Students (CASAS 224-235 NRS Level 5) who have taken traditional ESL classes at this level but need further development of English language skills and extra support to complete the nursing assistant class successfully and perform well on the job.

We use a concurrent enrollment model: 12 ESL students (1/2 of class) get an extra session for English language practice and content support, and join their classmates (12 native speakers) for the NA content and lab skills portion. Both instructors have class overlap time. This class collaboration gives students a chance to consolidate language skills while picking up the specific CNA content and skills needed to pass the state exam.

The ability to function effectively as a CNA requires clear communication with the health care team, patients, and their families. Although our students are low advanced ESL students, their fluency and ease with English have not been solidly established. They may struggle over pronunciation, phrasing, medical vocabulary, appropriate use of the language register, explanations, and use of grammar tenses all of which can prevent them from communicating effectively and accurately. Furthermore, while they are developing listening and reading skills in English they need a lot of repetition of the lecture content and more time and support to absorb the reading material.

This unit focuses on communication activities in the context of CNA course content. Some of the activities are also appropriate for a “bridge” class.

These activities are not used as a stand-alone unit but rather are presented throughout the class whenever the content area provides opportunities to highlight various English language features. Aside from the first activity which introduces communication basics, and the last activity which is a project-based application activity, the sequence is not that important.”


 College and Career Readiness (CCRS) Anchor Standards for Language
Language, Anchor 1:  “Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and                                                              usage when writing or speaking.

Common Career Technical Core (CCTC)

4. Communicate clearly, effectively and with reason.

Professional Learning Standards

Communicate effectively with the health care team, residents, and families

Demonstrate effective use of indirect care skills to promote resident safety, cooperation, exchange of information while recognizing privacy rights, and right to know about care and make choices.


Academic Skills

Academic and professional:   Demonstrate the correct use of English grammar and language appropriate to the professional CNA workplace.

1.      Ways to become an effective communicator.

2.     Active listening and paraphrasing

3.     Polite requests and responses

4.     Non-verbal communication

5.     What to say when performing each procedure

6.     Communicating with the visually impaired, hard of hearing, and aphasic patients

7.     Communicating with patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia

8.     Understand  basic human needs


DOC: Unit 2 Overview Communication Basics

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