10 Words for…Basic Medicine

Working in the healthcare industry can be immensely rewarding, but navigating day-to-day language barriers can be a challenge. With medical practices varying from country to country, aligning with rich cultural traditions, it can be hard to keep up. That’s why we’re here to help! This blog series will explore the top 10 useful words for specific industries, so you can learn the English you can actually use in the real world. This week, we’re looking at some basic concepts and vocabulary words in the medical industry.

1. allergy (noun): a damaging immune response by the body to a substance to which it has become hypersensitive

Ex. Jane discovered she had an allergy to almonds after she broke out in hives.

2. insurance (noun): an arrangement where a government or company provides guaranteed compensation for illness in return for payment

Ex. John’s insurance company paid for the entire medical procedure.

3. outbreak (noun): the sudden start of something bad (especially a disease or violence)

Ex. There was a cholera outbreak in the country due to poor sanitation conditions and contaminated water.

4. prescription (noun): instruction written by a medical practitioner that authorizes dosage of a specific medicine

Ex. The doctor gave Susan a prescription for pills to relieve her back pain.

5. medical history (noun): record of past events and circumstances that are or may be relevant to a patient’s current state of health

Ex. At his doctor’s appointment, John mentioned he had a medical history of diabetes in his family.

6. co-pay (noun): a separate payment made by a patient for health services in addition to money covered by one’s insurance

Ex. Although John’s insurance covered his medical procedure, he still had to pay a co-pay to his doctor for her time.

7. dosage (noun): the amount of a medicine, drug, or vitamin that should be taken at one time or regularly during a period of time

Ex. The doctor increased her dosage of the medication after she reported feeling intense pain.

8. infection (noun): a disease caused by bacteria entering the body

Ex. Melanie caught a throat infection from drinking contaminated water.

9. diagnose (verb): to identify an illness by examining a patient’s symptoms

Ex. He diagnosed the boy’s red rashes and itchiness as chicken pox.

10. hospice (noun): a facility or program providing medical care to the terminally ill

Ex. When Jill was diagnosed with cancer, she entered a hospice program to get the treatment she needed.

For additional practice with industry-specific terms in English, check out the Unit Catalog in your Voxy course for more work-related materials!

Teacher's Corner Header Image

Rebecca Wagoner: What I’ve (Unexpectedly) Learned from Teaching ESL

I was originally hesitant to enter the world of online education, concerned that I wouldn’t be able to sufficiently connect with my students, but I’m now three years in and have found the opposite to be true.

Working from an online platform has given me access to teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) learners from at least 50 countries. I’ve worked with a woman from Iraqi Kurdistan living in the UK, a Syrian refugee living in Saudi Arabia, pharmacists from Egypt who live in the U.S. and wait years before their professional certification can be transferred; and students from India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Haiti who moved to the United States to be with their significant others.

These particular learners were conversationally advanced in English, hard-working, open-minded and friendly, but I noticed a particular level of loneliness in them because they didn’t feel connected to their new cities or the people around them. Some expressed intimidation of meeting native English speakers for fear of not being understood. Others found it difficult to break through the inevitable bubble that surrounds immigrant communities. Even after years of living abroad, I was sometimes the first native English speaker that my students had a meaningful conversation with.

Distance learning has played a huge role in helping overcome the feeling of isolation for new immigrants. Some of these individuals are working so hard to pass their English exams or receive American degrees that the only time they have to meet someone is once a week from home, making it a challenge to connect with their local communities. The core of the learning process in ESL is conversation, which results in a willingness to share personal anecdotes that are often more intimate than typical conversations. The one-on-one environment allows for empathy between strangers, giving way to a unique relationship that helps learners feel more culturally connected to where they live and essentially fit in.

Tutoring has given me a small window into my students’ lives and taught me to think twice when it comes to the people around me locally. I live in Miami, a city with a large immigrant community, and I don’t hear their stories. Through these connections online, I’m constantly reminded of how hard it is to be a foreigner—especially because of a division between locals and immigrants. ESL has the potential to help immigrants connect to a culture that could otherwise remain foreign to them. While distance learning helps connect individuals who never would have otherwise met, tutoring and conversation in general can play a significant role in helping immigrants feel at home.

Rebecca Wagoner is a Voxy tutor.

Rebecca Wagoner is a Voxy tutor.

San Diego Comic Con

Coffee Break: 10 Expressions About… The San Diego Comic-Con

Whether you’re on your coffee break at the office, talking with friends or reading the newspaper, we encounter situations every day where topic-specific vocabulary is used. And when you don’t know the language, it can be really difficult to participate in the conversation! When the topic switches to recent news events, it gets even more complicated…

From politics and sporting events to fashion and technology, this blog series will help you understand and convey ideas about a wide range of recent events using the right vocabulary.

Today, it’s all about the geeks! The biggest “Comic Con” of the year starts today in San Diego, and it’s an unmissable event that brings together all the latest and greatest from pop culture. We’ve prepared a list of words and expressions that you’ll probably hear in the upcoming days.

  1. pop culture (noun): modern popular culture transmitted via mass media and aimed particularly at younger people
    Ex: San Diego Comic-Con is arguably the biggest event in pop culture.

  2. exhibitor (noun): a person who displays items of interest at a convention
    Ex: Large groups of fans walk excitedly from one exhibitor’s booth to another.

  3. to unveil (verb): to show or announce publicly for the first time
    Ex: Marvel will unveil a 13-foot-tall bronze Captain America statue at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con.

  4. buff (noun): a person who is very interested in a subject and knows a lot about it
    Ex: “Even if you’re not a science-fiction fan or a movie buff, there’s an incredible atmosphere at the convention,” argued the fan.

  5. collectibles (plural noun): items worth collecting
    Ex: It’s rumored that this year they’ll be giving away exclusive Pokemon collectibles to special attendees because of the new Pokemon Go app.

  6. panel (noun): a live or virtual discussion about a specific topic amongst a selected group of experts in front of a large audience
    Ex: The HBO Game of Thrones panel, which will include four experts discussing the show, is one of the most anticipated events at the Comic-Con.

  7. cosplay (noun): the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga and anime
    Ex: Game Of Thrones cosplays are really popular. Last year, a lot of fans dressed up like Khaleesi.

  8. overcrowding (noun): filled beyond what’s comfortable
    Ex: Because of the event’s popularity, attendees and vendors complained of overcrowding.

  9. fandom (noun): the fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc., regarded collectively as a community or subculture
    Ex: Dozens of different fandoms meet each year at the Comic-Con.

  10. attendee (noun): a person who attends an event
    Ex: Around 130,000 attendees are expected this weekend at the San Diego Comic-Con.

We realize that some of these words—like cosplay or fandom—are pretty specific, and you may not find them as useful in everyday conversation. But most of the words on this list—like panel, attendee and exhibitor—are much more common, and will be helpful to talk about all kinds of events or pop-culture trends. Try one out this week!

urban gardening breeding

Idioms of the Week: Nature

Learning English as a second language is hard enough, but it can be especially difficult when you run into idioms in casual conversation that don’t mean what they seem. In this weekly series, we’re breaking down common English expressions that are used in everyday conversation, so you’ll be able to expand your language skills and have fun with new English phrases.

Today, we’re keeping to the theme of nature, but pay close attention, these idioms refer to situations beyond the outdoors!

  1. a breath of fresh air (noun phrase): a new, imaginative approach

Ex: The honest transparency of the current presidential administration was a breath of fresh air to a country that was used to corrupt practices.

  1. to add fuel to the fire (verb phrase): to make a bad situation worse

Ex: When the soccer players started arguing, Logan added fuel to the fire by encouraging the group to fight each other.

  1. to be in hot water (verb phrase): to get in trouble

Ex: Lauren was in hot water with the school administration after she was caught cheating on the final exam.

  1. to beat around the bush (verb phrase): to stall, avoid or gloss over a topic of conversation

Ex: When Sarah’s brother asked for her opinion on his girlfriend, she beat around the bush by talking about how nice the weather was outside.

  1. calm before the storm (noun phrase): a quiet period before chaos occurs

Ex: Retail employees enjoy the calm before the storm in November right before customers start their Christmas shopping.

  1. to rain cats and dogs (verb phrase): to rain heavily

Ex: They were glad it was raining cats and dogs after the long drought.

  1. salt of the earth (adjective phrase): used to describe someone who is honest and good

Ex: Frank is the salt of the earth—he’s always willing to help out someone in the neighborhood.

  1. to not hold water (verb phrase): used to describe a statement or argument that is not logical or strong

Ex: His argument that the sun revolved around the earth didn’t hold water with the scientists at NASA, who had decades of proven research against his theory.

  1. to make a mountain out of a molehill (verb phrase): to make a fuss about nothing

Ex: The journalist made a mountain out of a molehill when she reported that the whole economy was crashing, when in reality it was just a minor recession.

  1. dead in the water (adjective phrase): used to describe something that has no chance of succeeding or making any progress

Ex: After yet another budgetary setback, the manager declared the project dead in the water.

Try using these idioms the next time you practice your English skills. You’ll find yourself using them more naturally in conversation in no time!

What We Know for Sure About Using Technology for Language Instruction

Today our video series continues with Voxy’s Chief Education Officer, Dr. Katharine Nielson, who’s answering all your nitty-gritty questions about how people learn languages.

When new technology appears in the education space, instructors often scramble to get their hands on the hottest new tools for their classrooms—but technology isn’t always the answer. In this video, Dr. Nielson explains why technology should only be used for instruction when it’s solving a problem that isn’t already better solved by real people.

Want to know how we’re using (or not using) technology at Voxy to improve the way people learn English? Watch to find out!


Dr. Katharine B. Neilson, PhD, is Voxy's Chief Education Officer.

Dr. Katharine B. Neilson, PhD, is Voxy’s Chief Education Officer.