British Studies Web Pages



Health System Issues - classroom materials

These materials have been prepared by Edyta Bracik a teacher trainer from Radom, are suitable for intermediate level Liceum students and above, and would fill 2x45 min lessons. They are based on the items The British Health and Welfare System, Crisis in the NHS? and Health - A to Z.

What are health systems? (warm up)

T asks some general questions about health systems to see if Ss are familiar with the subject. Ss try to define a health system and the welfare state, and the difference between them.

In order to help them the T explains that we can distinguish three pillars of the health and social welfare system: the NHS, the Social Services and Social Security. Ss try to guess their functions (see The British Health and Welfare System)

Ss suggest expected similarities and differences between the health systems in Britain and Poland

Don’t give answers - by the end of these activities the Ss should be able to judge for themselves

Some basic health system terms

T prepares an overhead/ puts on the board some terms connected with health systems:





outpatients and inpatients

district nurses



community care

voluntary sector

health visitors



Ss give suggestions about what they might be, and their approximate equivalents in Poland

Ts can find more on these terms by visiting The British Health and Welfare System and The NHS explained - glossary

Health system activity (reading and speaking)

Download and print The British Health and Welfare System, cut it into parts, and give each one to an individual student. Ss read Health System Questions and answer what they can from their part of the text. Then they move around and ask other Ss about their parts to provide the rest of the answers.

Answers are checked and the T can ask additional questions, e.g. What struck you most about the health system in Britain?, leading to a class discussion

The state of the NHS in Britain (reading and speaking)

The T asks Ss the general question: Do you think the state of the NHS in Britain is good or bad? Having downloaded and printed the article Crisis in the NHS?, cut it into smaller parts giving each text (without its heading question) to a pair/ group (depending on the number of Ss). On the board (or a prepared overhead) put the questions from the article and let the Ss try to match their text with the appropriate one. The T works through the questions and Ss give the appropriate answers based on their texts.

The T lets this lead into a discussion not only of the UK health system but the Polish one too - NFZ (Narodowy Fundusz Zdrowia)

Health A-Z activities and games (reading and speaking)

Choose the kind of exercise you want here, very often depending on how much time you have - Ss usually find them very challenging and very entertaining at the same time. If you are running out of time, one could be done as a warm-up exercise in the next lesson (the first could be a homework). The second and third are alternatives and couldn’t be done together in the same lesson.

  • Divide the alphabet among the Ss, giving each group/ pair several letters to work with asking for health system connected items under each letter. This is an excellent way of finding out how much the Ss have learnt and they can now be given Health - A to Z to see if the solutions were similar.

Ss may need to be quite ‘creative’ for some letters, e.g. Y, so make sure that pairs/ groups have some ‘easier’ letters as well as more difficult ones. This should also encourage students to use some interesting reference books on which the Health A to Z was based, such as the Oxford Guide to British and American Culture and the Longman Dictionary of English Language and Culture (both these books are reviewed in our web pages).

  • Health - A to Z can be used to play ‘jeopardy (in Poland known as a vabank quiz), a game where having an ‘answer’ (here a definition) you try to find the ‘question’. Print out Health A-Z definitions, give it to your Ss to work out what the ‘question’ is for each one. The competitor or team with the highest number of points wins.

For example one competitor or team is given the following definition: "A system of exercises for the body and the control of breathing for those who want to become fitter". They have to ask the question: "What is yoga?" to win a point.

  • Print out Health A-Z definitions and Health A-Z headwords e.g. X is for X-RAY therapy. Ss can be divided into those with headwords and those with definitions and walking round the room they have to find their matching pair, i.e. a headword and its definition.

Further health activities

There are a number of other activities for your Ss on health in this edition if you have the time

See Health Links and health bibliography for sources of further information, the NHS’s own site and Guardian Unlimited for contemporary news and issues

Produced in Poland by British Council © 2003. The United Kingdom's international organisation for educational opportunities and cultural relations. We are registered in England as a charity.