English Speaking Skills And Clear Pronunciation for Internationally Trained Nurses

Do your patients or coworkers sometimes not understand your English easily?  Do they sometimes ask you to repeat?

We work with hundreds of nurses all over the world to help them speak clear, confident English at work and in their everyday lives.   

Welcome! Today, on this page for nurses, you will:

– correct your pronunciation of 17 key words for overseas trained nurses eg. hygiene, fatigue, marijuana
– record and compare your pronunciation to a native speaker 
– learn about our English pronunciation training that helps nurses speak better English  

As a nurse, being able to communicate clearly and effectively with your patients and colleagues is a must. Problems with clear communication can bring down your confidence and leave you feeling tired and frustrated. It can also make things difficult for your patients, their families and your colleagues. 

Problems with English pronunciation and being easily understood can negatively affect your effectiveness at work, confidence and career opportunities.

Start improving your pronunciation of nursing terminology now with this video for overseas trained nurses and doctors. Correct your pronunciation and word stress in these commonly mispronounced nursing words AND practice them in sentences:

abdomen, abdominal, epilepsy, epileptic, diabetes, diabetic, obese, obesity, hygiene, fatigue, marijuana, diagnose, diagnosis, prognosis, urinary, coronary and more

These words are commonly mispronounced by internationally trained nurses from non-English speaking backgrounds. They often put the stress on the wrong syllable or use incorrect vowel sounds and this makes these words unclear. 

Watch the English Pronunciation Lesson video for overseas trained nurses, doctors and other international medical professionals.

So, know you’ve watched the video…. How did you go? Were there some words covered the video that you now feel more confident with pronouncing clearly and correctly?

Correct more important words and record your own speech further down the page!

Using incorrect word stress is a problem that I see many nurses make with their English pronunciation.  

Are you now a little more aware of how important word stress is and where it goes in these words? 

Write down 8 multi-syllable words that you need to use everyday in your role as a nurse. Do you know where the word stress should go? Are you using enough stress or is your word stress too flat? 

Visit this page for more English word stress practice.

A Speech Active Course will help you master the stress and rhythm of English and correct yours sounds too while developing your listening skills and more. 

How Nurses Improve English Language Skills With Speech Active 

Would you like an online program to help you develop your English Speaking Skills for your role as a nurse?

Nurses love our Speech Active Courses because they are:

Tailored To Your Needs:
Our courses are not one-size-fits all. Each Speech Active Course is tailored specifically for speakers a different language background. So your course will be created especially for speakers of your first language. This is important when working on pronunciation because speakers of different languages have different needs. So for example, a course for Mandarin speakers is different for speakers of Japanese speakers, or a speaker from Russian or Korea. 

Flexible To Suit Your Busy Life:
As a nurse you need a flexible program that fits around your nursing shifts. You need to be able to dip in and out of your training when it suits you. You can access your Speech Active lessons online, anytime. Your course will be self paced so you choose your own schedule. We recommend you complete 2 video lessons every week and 15 minutes practice a day with the audio files. But it’s up to you. The more you do – the more you will improve. Phone sessions are completed at a time that suits you.  

Proven & Unique
Speech Active’s award winning courses are a world leading provider of English pronunciation services. We are the chosen provider to leading many top tier Universities, global companies and GP training organisations. We assist hundreds of nurses each year with improving their spoken English for mroe effective communication and improved English language skills at work. Speech Active’s combination of specialised video and audio training in conjunction with 1:1 phone training is most effective.

Find our English Pronunciation Course for speakers of your first language. 

Watch our tour video below to find out more about how our training works and get in touch to discuss your English speaking goals. 

Contact Us - English Pronunciation & Fluency Course (for Nurses)

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As A Nurse, Clarity Affects Your Quality Of Care

If you’re unclear when you speak English in a nursing role, not only can it be difficult for patients but it can be unsafe. Clarity is important and speaking better English will improve your employability and make your interactions at work much easier.  

Work with the elderly can be especially difficult if they cannot understand you easily. This is often a combination of hearing loss, being in pain or uncomfortable and also lack of experience and practice listening to different accents and pronunciation styles. 

People who are fatigued or in pain can also have compromised ability to understand pronunciation that is unclear. 

Hospitals are often noisy places, when there is background noise, it can be even more difficult to understand people easily. 

All of these factors mean that clear pronunciation is particularly important. They mean that to communicate effectively in your work as an overseas trained nurse you need clear, confident English pronunciation and English language skills. 

Pronunciation & English Language Skills Tests For Overseas Trained Nurses. 

To successfully register as a nurse in an English speaking country, you need strong English language skills. You may need to complete an a
pproved English language test providers with these approved English language test providers.

International English Language Testing System – (IELTS)
Occupational English test – OET (nursing only)
Test of English as a foreign language internet-based test – TOEFL 
Pearson test of English academic – PTE Academic

If your pronunciation is unclear it will negatively affect your performance in these tests. There is a pronunciation component on each of these tests. Being a clear communicator is important in most professional roles but even more so in the medical feild. 

I have worked with many nurses who cannot pass these tests because of problems with their English pronunciation skills. They have difficulties pronouncing some of the sounds correctly in English and they also are not making the word stress, sentence stress and weak vowels of English correctly – this is the ‘rhythm’ of English. Many people don’t realise how important it is to make good stress and rhythm for clear English. 

 Let’s look at the Occupational English test, more commonly referred to as OET. OET has been developed specifically for 12 healthcare professions, one of which is nursing.  The Occupational English Test is based on typical workplace scenarios that you will experience on the job for nursing.

For the OET, you will be graded on the Speaking Assessment Criteria which are: Intelligibility, Fluency, Appropriateness of Language, Resources of Grammar and Expression. These will be graded in 6 levels. 

The OET uses roleplay situations so as an overseas nurse you’ll need to be good at listening to a range of English speakers, speaking clearly and have a strong vocabulary and grammar. 

Through the eyes of a nurse, let’s look at the OET Speaking Assessment Criteria in more detail.

Intelligibility – this is how clear your pronunciation is to listeners. Ensuring you have good pronunciation of vowel sounds, consonant sounds, word stress, sentence stress and weak vowels is important for a good OET intelligibility Score. Stress, intonation and rhythm are particularly important. 

Fluency – this is how fluent your speech is. For a high OET Fluency Score ESL speaking nurses will need to use a good rate of speaking, not too fast but without many hesitations or pauses to think of words. Make sure you don’t speak too fast as for many people it can reduce their speech clarity. 

Appropriateness of Language – this is your professionalism, tone and the style of the English you have used. Not too casual and not too much jargon. For a high OET speaking score for this section you need to make sure you’re using the appropriate style of English. 

Resources of Grammar and Expression – so this is all about grammar and vocab and English expressions. For a high score in OET for speaking in this section, overseas nurses will need to use a wide range of grammar and vocabulary. Use of English expressions and idioms will also help nurses achieve a higher score here.

Speech Active English Pronunciation & Fluency Courses help students acheive high speaking scores on their English language test. 

Enrol in one of our tailored courses to start improving today. Start now. 

Achieve A Higher Score On Your English Language Skills Test

So, how will a Speech Active Course help you improve your score on your English Language Skills Test such as OET or PTE exams.

With a Speech Active Course you will improve your:

– rate of speaking, volume of speaking, general mouth position
– pronunciation of vowel sounds
– pronunciation of consonant sounds
– use of word stress, sentence stress and rhythm
– use of English weak vowels such as schwa
– use and pronunciation of past tense endings and plurals
– listening skills and ability to understand a range of English styles and accents
– understanding of many English expressions and idioms (you don’t have to use these but you need to understand them).
– strengthen your vocabulary on a wide range of topics
– small talk used for relationshiop building with colleagues and patients
– much more

Many overseas nurses wanting to improve their English pronunciation and spoken English skills start with our 5 day free English pronunciation online course.  This is a great general introduction to how to speak clearer English.  


Clearer English Means A Boost In Confidence For Nurses

Many nurses who have some problems with their spoken English find that it really starts to hold them back when they start their nursing placements.

It brings down their confidence when people around them don’t catch what they say easily. People may ask them to repeat or sometimes they say they just get the feeling that people haven’t understood them easily.

The biggest benefit of speaking clearer English as a nurse is the increase in confidence. That’s what our previous students who are nurses tell us. So many nurses say that it gave them a lot more speaking confidence and this made them more effective and happier at work. 

Whether you work in hospitals or in the community setting, having confidence in your ability to communicate with staff and patients and patients families is crucial. Our courses can help you build that speaking confidence. 

97 % of our students say that one of the best things they gained from Speech Active training is an increase in confidence. 

Time To Practice & Improve More Nursing Vocabulary 

Improve your pronuciation of more words for your important work as a nurse. Below you’ll correct nursing terminology such as: phlegm, sutures, eczema, asthma, melanoma and more. 

Many overseas nurses mispronunce words like these. Why? Because English pronunciation is challenging for many non native speaking nurses.

There are many reasons why English pronuncation is difficult and I’ll explain 3 of the main reasons below.

1] English Is Not a Phonetic Language. 

English is not a phonetic language which means there are many words that we don’t pronounce as they look. The letters in English words (the way they are spelled) don’t tell us exactly how to pronounce that word. English has many silent letters and the same letter can make a number of different sounds.

For nurses from non-English speaking backgrounds this makes pronunciation challenging. There are a lot of words that nurses use daily that have unusual spelling and look very different to how we pronounce them.

Take the word ‘phlegm‘ for example.

phlegm: The ‘ph’ letters make a /f/sound and the letter ‘g’ is not pronounced, it is silent. So ‘phlegm’ is pronounced ‘flem’ or in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) it’s written as /flem/.

sutures:  The letter ‘t’ is pronounced as ‘ch’ and the second syllable is ‘schwa’ which is a weak vowel. So we pronounce it as ‘SU.chuhz’ or in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) it’s /ˈsuː.tʃəz/.

eczema: The letters ‘cz’ are pronounced as /ks/ and ‘eczema’ is usually pronounced with only two syllables. So it’s pronounced as: ‘’ or in the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) it’s /ˈeks.mə

asthma: The good news is that the letters ‘th’ are not pronounced.  In British and Australian English it’s pronounced as ‘’ which is /ˈæs.mə/ in the IPA. In the US it’s with a /z/ instead of /s/ so it’s /ˈæz.mə/. This is a small difference. Either way will be easily understood by listeners.

Listen to the audio of the native speaker and practice them with the recording tool below.

Words With Confusing Spelling 


phlegm /flem/

sutures /ˈsuː.tʃəz/

eczema /ˈeks.mə/

asthma  UK  /ˈæs.mə/ US  /ˈæz.mə/

Practise Excellent Pronunciation  
phlegm    sutures     eczema    asthma    

2] Problems With Word Stress & Rhythm

Another reason why English pronunciation is so difficult for many non-native English speaking nurses is that it has different stress and rhythm patterns to many other languages. Find more English word stress exercises

This means that many non-native English speakers have difficulty making the stresses and rhythms of English correctly. Many speakers will make the stress too flat and even, or they place the stress or emphasis on the incorrect syllable.

You cannot tell by looking at the word, where the word stress is. You need to start to listen and pay attention to it!

Let me talk you through an example of when using flat or incorrect stress can be confusing. An important distinction for nurses to make is the words stress in ‘important’ and ‘impotent’.

In ‘important’ all the stress and emphasis is on the middle syllable – ‘imPORtant’.

In the word ‘impotent’, all the stress and emphasis is on the first syllable –  ‘IMpotent’.

The words look similar but have very different meanings. 

Let’s look at some more words that nurses use regularly. 

Think about how you pronounce these words? Where do you put the stress in each word? Remember in each multi-syllable English word there is one stress. 

Word Stress Practice For Nurses 


hygiene        /ˈhaɪ.dʒiːn/

fatigue         /fəˈtiːɡ/

appetite        /ˈæp.ə.taɪt/

melanoma   /ˌme.ləˈnoʊ.mə/

Practise Great Word Stress 
hygiene    fatigue    appetite    melanoma

Quick Video – More Word Stress Practice


Practise good word stress in: react, ratio, coordinate, cooperate, access & assess.

3] English Sounds Are Sometimes New

Another reason why English can be challenging for nurses and other professionals from non-English speaking backgrounds is because there are a lot of vowels and consonants in English.

Consonant Sounds:

Revise and practice all of the consonant sounds in English. 

English has 24 different consonant sounds. It’s likely that for many non-native English speakers some of these sounds won’t exist in their first language.

English has a lot of consonants sounds at the ends of words too and also words where there are more than 1 consonant sounds in a row.

Pronouncing consonants clearly at the ends of words and pronouncing clusters of consonants can be challenging for speakers of many south east Asian languages such as Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese and also Cantonese.

Here are a few instances of common problems that nurses and other non-native speaking professionals might have with pronouncing English sounds – consonants and vowels.

Word Endings:

Clear word endings are very important in English because they distinguish one word from another. Have a look at the examples below. If the consonants at the ends of these words are not pronounced, the word takes on a completely different meaning.

pay, pain, paid etc .
way vs weight etc

If nurses don’t pronounce word endings clearly it will make their English unclear to listeners.

Consonant Clusters: More Than 1 Consonant In a Row

Pronouncing multiple consonants clearly in a row is also really important for clear English. Look at these words. If the consonants aren’t pronounced clearly, they mean something completely different.

sick vs six
pass vs past
fine vs find

For nurses who are speakers of Thai, Burmese, Vietnamese and also Cantonese and some Mandarin speakers, pronouncing word endings and consonant clusters might be something they need to improve for clearer English.

Find out more about clusters and click here to practice consonant clusters.


Vowel Sounds:

Revise and practice all the vowel sounds in English.

Did you know that English has 20 different vowel sounds? For many people, this is more vowel sounds than their first language so this means that some will be new. 

This means that some overseas trained nurses and other health professionals from non-English speaking backgrounds do not clearly distinguish between the vowels in words like: cot, coat and caught, not, note and nought. 

See a video on pronouncing ‘won’t’ and ‘want’ below with the correct vowel sound. 

Watch the video to correct your pronunciation of the word ‘won’t’  

Record Your Pronunciation of ‘won’t’
(it shouldn’t sound like ‘want’).


Better communication means a higher standard of care.


A Speech Active English Pronunciation Course will help you improve all areas of your English pronunciation skills. 

Our courses have been specifically designed for busy professionals and because your course is tailored for speakers of your first language, you won’t waste time working on areas that you don’t need to improve. 

Contact us today to discuss your English speaking goals. 

We look forward to speaking with you. 



English Pronunciation For Overseas Trained Nurses


Georgie Harding has assisted thousands of people from all over the world with improving their clarity and spoken English skills. A Speech Pathology degree (BAppSc(SpPathand CELTA qualifications and over 15 years of experience providing 1:1, group and online training make Georgie a leader in her field.  

Georgie is the creator the world’s leading English Pronunciation online courses that are tailored to the language background of the student and presents regularly at Universities.

If you’ve ever met Georgie or completed her award winning courses you’ll know how passionate she is about helping people move forward with better spoken English and more confidence. 

Linkedin: Georgie Harding 
Facebook: Speech Active 

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Free Pronunciation Starter Course

5 emails – start today


Key areas of difficulty for speakers of your first language


Record a clear and professional voicemail greeting


How problems with your pronunciation affect clarity


Improve your word stress, emphasis & rhythm in English


Improve some key vowel sounds that are important for clear English


Correct many commonly mispronounced words


Tips on how to improve your pronunciation and fluency in your day to day life


And lots more...

Your step-by-step path to clear and confident English

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