Contextualized Grammar

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 so that they can successfully complete the nursing assistant class and perform well on the job. We use a concurrent enrollment model: 12 ESL students (half of class) get an extra session for English language practice and content support, and join their classmates (12 native speakers) for the nursing assistant 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, residents/patients/clients, 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 accurate communication. While they are developing listening and reading skills in English they need a lot of repetition of the lecture material and more time to absorb the content reading material.

This unit focuses on basic grammar review in the context of CNA course content. Some of the activities are also appropriate for a ‘bridge’ or ‘vestibule’ 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.”


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

Common Career Technical Core (CCTC)

2. Apply appropriate academic and technical skills.
4. Communicate clearly, effectively and with reason.

Professional Learning Standards
Communicate effectively with the health care team, residents, and families

Correctly use indirect and direct care skills to perform patient care while promoting patient rights, independence and privacy, and maintaining patient comfort and safety.


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

  1. Simple present tense- affirmative, negative and interrogative forms
  2. Future tense-affirmative, negative and interrogative forms using “going to” and “will”
  3. Time clauses
  4. Simple past
  5. Present perfect with already, still, yet

Professional Skills

  1. Explain the role and scope of practice of certified nursing assistants and other health care team members
  2. Provide explanations and required patient communication while performing a patient care procedure
  3. Demonstrate the correct order of steps in each patient care procedure
  4. Report to the health care team on the progress of assigned work tasks


PDF: CNA-Contextualized Grammar Unit Overview