Professional Language: Understanding and being understood

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Language is a vital means of communication and education plays a key role in developing both our general language capabilities but also our use of "Professional language". Learning a professional language is like being inducted into the profession through the shared use of arcane and often obscure words and terminology. What makes sense to a “Professional" could well be gobbledygook/meaningless/nonsense to anyone else. This CPD activity is designed to encourage us to think about how we speak and communicate. In a multicultural country we have to be aware of both how we communicate and also how colleagues and patients are communicating.

There are many aspects of everyday speech that we need to consider and as individuals we may be prone to one or more of the different language uses that can cause issues for patients and colleagues.

There are specific words that can be used when speaking but we need to think, "Is that word too obscure?", "Would the average person be able to understand what you are talking about?".  As children we were fans of Gran's Reader’s Digests with the word game of matching the word to its definition, though this extended our vocabulary there aren’t many of these words that we should use in everyday conversations, for example e.g cynosure, obfuscate, embrocation.

For more have a look at this flash card series from quizlet or Oxford dictionaries weird and wonderful words

Activity 1. What word or phrases of professional language do you use or know?
Activity 2. Specific words and phrases peculiar to English.
Activity 3. "Listening to what you say" and "Thinking before you speak".



On completion of this learning activity you will be able to:
  • Use language in your professional practice that supports communication.
  • Recognise that professional language can be a barrier to communicting with colleagues and patients.

Other professional development activities

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