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Talking About Pain ESL Complete Lesson Package

The resource presents a lesson plan at four skill levels for teaching English learners how to describe physical pain to healthcare providers.
Author(s): 
Simran Sahota
Gurjit Dhallwal
Erin Swayze
Shirene Salamatian
Caroline Pendleton
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
Langara College School of Nursing
Immigrant Services Society of BC
Published: 
2013
Resource Type: 
Product
Number of Pages: 
152
Product Type: 
Abstract: 

The resource consists of four lesson plans, from basic literacy through Canadian ELSA Levels 4-5, on the subject of talking about pain. The lesson plans are based on currently recognized effective practices in adult ESL education. Each opens with a set of clear, actionable objectives (e.g., students will be able to state the location of pain on their body) and includes communicative activities, i.e., videos, dialog practice, role plays) and Total Physical Response activities. The resource reflects the principles of Knowles' Adult Learning Theory in that it directly addresses a practical need of adult learners.

Learning Outcomes by Level:

  • Literacy Level 1 - Students will be able to: (a) state the location of pain on their body; and (b) use the pain scale to describe the level of their pain.
  • Literacy Level 2 – Students will be able to: (a) state the location of pain on their body; (b) use the pain scale to describe the level of their pain; and (c) state if their pain comes and goes or stays.
  • Literacy Level 3 – Students will be able to: (a) state the location of their pain to health care providers; (b) to use the pain scale to describe the level of their pain; and (c) state if the pain is constant or intermittent.
  • Literacy Level 4/5 – Students will be able to: (a) state the location and intensity of their pain to health care providers; (b) to use the pain scale to describe the level of their pain; (c) state if the pain is constant or intermittent; (d) state if the pain is chronic or acute; and (e) describe the type of pain.
What the Experts Say: 

Thisl health literacy resource was developed collaboratively by an immigrant services organization and a nursing school. It focuses specifically on parts of the human body and ways of describing pain to a health care professional. It includes four lesson plans at different levels with a variety of activity types to engage adults with different learning styles as well as videos simulating discussions between a healthcare provider and patient.

It is useful resource for adult educators who are interested in working with their students - of varying literacy levels - on fluency in talking about and identifying body parts, discussing pain, and practicing real-world conversations with co-workers and healthcare providers. Instructor guidance regarding pre-teaching and sequencing/pacing of activities is clear and concise. Videos show actors using normal speech rate facing one another rather than looking directly at the camera. The approach is authentic, but may create listening comprehension challenges for learners at the basic/beginning level.

Some issues that instructors should note are:

  • The pain scale taught (1-10) is commonly used around the world. However, it is not always used in the way described in the materials.
  • The authors note that some topics may trigger negative memories for some students but fail to provide guidance about what teachers should do when it occurs.
  • There does not appear to be information about what to do when someone is in pain, e.g., deciding what type of care facility to go to.
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