Be Aware – Lesson 5

This lesson is based on the Real Conversation: A Career in Medical Research.

Download the pdf for this lesson.

[audio:medical research.mp3]
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Section A – Grammar Explanations with Examples

Sometimes when you are listening to something in English, you are able to understand it, but you are not able to say it. You are not able to reproduce what you hear with correct grammar. It is important to be aware of grammar and of the correct way to use words. It helps you to communicate more clearly. This saves time and helps to prevent misunderstandings.

Words have many nuances and shades of meaning. Language is vital. Understanding is the basis of everything.

Understanding is the solution to every problem. We can reach understanding by communicating clearly and by understanding other people. We can use language to help us do this.

Let’s look at a sequence. It is a group of sentences. They are all in ‘past simple tense’.

Sequence:

She finished high school.
She went to university.
She studied education.
She did a bachelor of education (She did a B.E.).
She did her undergraduate degree.
She did her teaching degree.
She worked in a high school.
She went traveling.
She traveled through Asia.
She ended up in China.
She worked in a language school.
It was in Shanghai.
It was exciting.
She moved to Europe.
She did her master’s there.
She took classes in French.
She decided to move back to Asia.
She took the bus.
She went through Istanbul and Pakistan.
She got back to China.
She started working in a research laboratory.
She was working in Guang Zho.

Now look at the verbs:

finished
went
studied
did
did
did
worked in
went raveling
traveled through
ended up in
worked in
was
was
moved to
did
took classes in
decided to move back to
took
went through
got back to
started working in
was working in

These are verb phrases. Sometimes they are single words. Sometimes they are a verb plus a preposition. Sometimes they are a verb plus a noun and a couple of prepositions. It is good to remember verb phrases rather than simple verbs. It will enable you to speak more quickly. When you speak to a native speaker, you should not speak too slowly or he or she will become impatient. Learning ‘verb phrases’ instead of  ‘simple verbs’ will help you to speak more quickly and more naturally.

As I said above, these sentences are all in ‘past simple tense’. It is important to use this tense correctly. Chinese and Thai do not have a past simple tense. Does your language have a past simple tense? Write and tell us in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Do you use past simple tense to tell stories in your language? French and German do not use it. They use the ‘present perfect tense’ to tell stories. They are different from English.

Let’s look at the present forms of the sequence of verb phrases:

finishes
goes
studies
does
does
does
works in
goes traveling
ends up in
works in
is
is
moves to
does
takes classes in
decided to move back to
takes
goes through
gets back to
starts working in
is working in

Did you notice that the first verb conjugates? It agrees with the pronoun ‘she’ from the sentences above. Do you remember what conjugation is? If you do not, go back to Be Aware – Lesson One. Think about conjugation. Think about what it is. The verb agrees with the pronoun.

It is possible to speak like this. Usually we tell stories in the past simple tense in English, but sometimes we use the present simple tense. We use the present simple tense to give a feeling of immediacy and excitement.

As I said above some languages do not have conjugation. Thai and Chinese speakers of English may speak like this:

She finish high school.
She go to university.
She study education.
She do a bachelor of education. (She did a B.E.)
She do her undergraduate degree.
She do her teaching degree.
She work in a high school.
She go traveling.
She travel through Asia.
She end up in China.
She work in a language school.
It is in Shanghai.
It is exciting.
She move to Europe.
She do her master’s there.
She take classes in French.
She decide to move back to Asia.
She take the bus.
She go through Istanbul and Pakistan.
She get back to China.
She start working in a research laboratory.
She is working in Guang Zho.

It is ok to talk like this. If you want to communicate with somebody but you do not have a big vocabulary you can do it. You can talk like this. You can “get away with it.” People will understand you.

In formal and academic situations it is not normal to speak like this. It is inaccurate. Grammatically speaking, it is wrong for two reasons.

One reason is tense. The sentences should be in past simple tense.

The other reason is conjugation. If the sentences are in present simple tense, the verb must agree with the pronoun ‘she’. That means the verb needs an ‘s’.

Only the first verb needs an ‘s’. Remember in a verb phrase like ‘goes traveling’ or ‘starts working’, which has two verbs, only the first verb conjugates. Only the first verb agrees with the pronoun (subject).

Let’s look at another grammar point:

is called
is named

Generally these two phrases have the same meaning but the first one is more common. They are both in passive voice.

Let’s look at another one. These words are all in the same ‘field of meaning’. They are all about the same topic:

research institute
institute
academy
think tank
research lab
research laboratory

They are general words. They describe a place where you do research. They are places where people do research and try to solve problems. Have you ever worked in a research institute? Do you work in one now? Write and tell us below.

We use the verb ‘work’ with different prepositions:

work on
work in
work at
work for
work with

Look at these examples:

I am working on a book. (project)
I work in the city. (place)
I work at a factory. (place)
I work for a Japanese company. (company)
I work with people from many different countries. (people)

Look at these words:

the metabolism of cholesterol
the capital of China
the top of the mountain

They are all noun phrases. If you find a difficult or technical noun phrase like ‘the metabolism of cholesterol’ when you are reading or listening, you should not worry. You know it is a thing or a process. That is enough. It is just a detail. There is no need to give up. Sometimes if we read or listen to a technical text, we ‘lose heart’ because there are technical words we do not know.

Do not be ‘disheartened’. Keep going. Press on. Get to the end of the text. Finish what you are doing. You can come back and check vocabulary details later.

how the body breaks it down
how it is broken down by the body
how it is broken down
how it is broken up
how it is broken up by the body
how the body breaks it up

They all have roughly the same meaning. Sometimes opposites like ‘up’ and ‘down’ or ‘in’ and ‘out’ have the same meaning. Here is another example:

fill it in
fill it out
fill this form in
fill this form out
fill this application form in
fill this application form out

Look at these relative clauses:

how it is transported
where it is transported to
where it is transported from
by what means it is transported
how fast it is transported

Are you able to understand them all? Use your dictionary if you have any problems.

A Clutter of Future Tenses:

Look at these thirteen verb phrases:

was looking at
were looking at
am looking at
is looking at
are looking at
will look at
will be looking at
am going to look at
is going to look at
are going to look at
am going to be looking at
is going to be looking at
are going to be looking at

There are a lot of them. There are many possibilities. Are you confused? Do not be confused. Relax. Take it easy. It is not so difficult. Let us look at them in groups.

Past Tense:

was looking at
were looking at

Present Tense:

am looking at
is looking at
are looking at

Future Tense:

will look at
will be looking at
am going to look at
is going to look at
are going to look at
am going to be looking at
is going to be looking at
are going to be looking at

Do not be confused by the large number of future tenses in English. Do not be confused by the proliferation of future tenses in the English language. Do not be confused by the “clutter” of future tenses in English.

They all mean roughly the same thing (future as opposed to past or present). There are fine details. There are subtleties. You will learn them eventually. Go slowly. Do not stress out. Read these notes carefully. You will understand. Here is a breakdown of the future tenses in English:

Present Continuous with Future Meaning (informal):

I am going home in a few minutes.
He is moving to London next year.
They are leaving Mecca tomorrow.

“Will” as Spontaneous Future:

What are you doing tonight?
I don’t know……I know! I will watch a movie!

“Going to” as Planned Future:

I am going to improve my English then I am going to study at an American university.

Note that the plan was made before the moment of speaking. A spontaneous decision would be expressed like this:

I will improve my English then I will study at an American university.

Future Continuous with “Will”:

I will be looking at that next week.

It is the same as “I will look at that next week” but it stresses the ongoing or continuous nature of ‘looking at’ rather than the simple action ‘look at’ as part of a sequence.

Do not stress out over this small difference. It is not so important. It is no big deal. Just be aware of the two forms:

I will go there soon.
I will be going there soon.

I will do it soon.
I will be doing it soon.

I will see him tomorrow.
I will be seeing him tomorrow.

Future Continuous with “Going to”:

I am going to be seeing him tomorrow.

This one is also about the same as “I am going to see him tomorrow.” Again the continuous or ongoing nature of the action (the length of the action) is stressed over the action’s position in a sequence.

You should be able to recognize these forms and use them correctly. Do not worry about which one to use. Listen to other people. Listen to the one they use. It is not productive to worry about which one to use. It really does not matter. It really does not matter at all. As time passes, you will become more fluent and eventually you will naturally choose the same patterns as a native speaker.

In order to “improve your English” or “maintain your English” (keep your English up), it is important to belong to a community of speakers. Can you find somebody in your community who speaks English? Do you know somebody who can speak a little English? It does not have to be a native speaker. To progress and grow and develop you have to belong to a community.

Let’s move on to some vocabulary. Look at these words:

diet
protein
carbohydrate
fat
starch
mineral
vitamin
nutrient

Nutrition is important. Do you eat well? Do you eat all the food groups? Are you vegetarian? Does your body get enough nutrients without meat? Where do you get protein? Write and tell me about your experience of vegetarianism. Write and tell us about your experience of being vegetarian.  Leave a comment below.

Look at the next group of phrases:

that determines how
that decides how
that controls how

They have roughly the same meaning.

The ones below are slightly different:

that determines when
that determines what
that determines if

These phrases are in the passive. they are useful in scientific and technical English:

how it is modified
how it is delivered
how it is returned
how it is selected
how it is reproduced
how it is protected
how it is nurtured

If you want to talk about the human body and medicine and internal organs, you will need to know these words:

liver
kidneys
heart
lungs
anatomy
heart
spleen
stomach
intestine
bowel
bladder
gall bladder
appendix
lungs
prostate gland
genitals
testicles
penis
vagina
uterus (womb)
fallopian tubes
ovaries

Do a drawing that shows where these parts are on the human body.

These verb phrases are easy to understand, right?

am working on that
is working on that
are working on that
were working on that
was working on that
will be working on that

You can divide them up into:

Past Continuous Tense:

was working on that
were working on that

Present Continuous Tense:

am working on that
is working on that
are working on that

Future Continuous Tense:

will be working on that

As mentioned before, the continuous tenses emphasize the “ongoing” or “continuous” nature of an action. When we use them, the stress on the action is on the length of it. We use the simple tense more to show a sequence:

Past Simple Tense:

worked on that
finished it
started another project

Present Simple Tense:

work on that
finish it
start another project

Future Simple Tense:

will work on that
will finish it
will start another task

These phrases (below) are extremely frequent in the English language. You should be able to say they quickly, easily and automatically. They should “roll off your tongue.”

wanted to have a break
wanted to have a meal
wanted to have a holiday
wanted to have something to eat
wanted to have something to drink
wanted to have a look around

Look at these ones too:

wanted to go
wanted to make
wanted to eat
wanted to drink
wanted to stay
wanted to work
wanted to live
wanted to be
wanted to have
wanted to come
wanted to get
wanted to take
wanted to give

The opposites are:

didn’t want to go
didn’t want to make
didn’t want to eat
didn’t want to drink
didn’t want to stay
didn’t want to work
didn’t want to live
didn’t want to be
didn’t want to have
didn’t want to come
didn’t want to get
didn’t want to take
didn’t want to give

These combinations of verbs are used very frequently in conversations with native speakers. They occur very often. You should be able to say them quickly and easily. They should roll off your tongue.

Look at these verb pairs:

went traveling
traveled through

went hiking
hiked up into

went walking
walked to

went running
ran across

went shopping
bought

Notice that the first four pairs are from the same word family. The last one is different. Language is not regular. It is full of irregularities and inconsistencies. Look at these examples of the above phrases:

I finished school then I went travelling and travelled through Europe.
I finished lunch then I went hiking and hiked up into the hills
I finished resting then I went walking and walked to the other side of town.
I finished working then I went running and ran right across town.
I finished work then I went shopping and bought a new jacket.

Look at these phrases from the world of academia. These phrases are in the passive voice:

seminars are given
lectures are given
tutorials are given
lessons are given (or “lessons are taught”)
classes are given (or “classes are taught”)

We also often hear:

Classes are attended.
Classes are skipped.
Classes are missed.

A ‘class’ is a general word. It can mean ‘The class (lesson, program, content) that the teacher teaches’ or ‘the people in the class’.

A ‘lesson’ is a class, but it does not refer to the people in the class. It refers to the class as a unit on a timetable (schedule) or a unit of content. Look at these examples:

I have three classes (lessons) on Tuesday.
My first class is my favourite.
It is a really interesting class.
The teacher gives really interesting lessons.
There are three foreign students in my class.

A lecture is usually attended by a large group of people and one person dominates the stage. Look at these examples:

I attended a lecture last night.

A tutorial is usually for a smaller group of students. They sit down and discuss the class with the tutor. Look at this example:

I had a tutorial with the new tutor in the English Department last night.

A seminar is a course with a smaller number of students in it. Some times we say ‘seminar class’.

Look at these:

for like five years
for five years

The two sentences have about the same meaning. ‘Like’ is a pause word that does not really mean anything. Do not confuse it with:

I like learning languages. (verb)
He looks like my brother. (preposition)

Look at these ones:

for almost five years
for less than five years
for over five years
for more than five years
for about five years
for approximately five years
for around five years
for round five years

You have seen these before. You will come across them extremely often. The last four phrases have almost exactly the same meaning:

for about five years
for approximately five years
for around five years
for round five years

The two above that have the same meaning:

for over five years
for more than five years

Their opposite is:

for less than five years

Are you sure of the meaning of ‘for almost five years’? It means ‘for nearly five years’ or ‘for not quite five years’.

We have seen this group before. They have the same meaning.

do you speak
are you able to speak
can you speak

When we talk about our ability in a language we use these phrases:

I can understand a bit.
I can do basic things.
I can do some basic things.
I can have a basic conversation.
I can get by.

We were just reading about this type of verb combination. Look at it again:

wanted to practice
wanted to know
wanted to learn
wanted to hear
wanted to go to
wanted to ask about

Note that first verb (wanted) conjugates. It “agrees” in ‘number’ and ‘tense’ with the ‘subject’ of the sentence. The second verb does not change. It is called, ‘the infinitive’.

Do not confuse these words:

infinitive
infinity
infinite

Do you believe in infinity? Do you think the universe is infinite? Write and tell us by leaving a comment below.

Now look at these verb combinations:

decided to move to
decided to move back to
decided to go to
decided to return to
decided to go back to
decided to leave

Look at these ones:

went to
went through
went round
went around
went over
went along

Here are examples of usage:

I went to eastern Europe.
I went through the Slovak Republic.
I went round the Ukraine.
I went around Poland too.
I went over the Baltic Sea.
I went along the border of Finland.

Try these:

got back to Russia
arrived in Russia
arrived back in Russia

They mean about the same. There is a subtle difference. the preposition ‘back’ is the key. You cannot say “I back to Russia.” ‘Back’ is not a verb in this case.

A field can mean a place where cows graze OR an area of research or work. These combinations are common:

a different field
a very different field
the same field
a similar field
a related field
an unrelated field

Look at these different types of diseases:

blood diseases
liver diseases
heart diseases
kidney diseases
skin diseases
venereal diseases

Look at these words too:

serious diseases
common diseases
widespread diseases
rare diseases
infectious diseases
imaginary diseases
dangerous diseases

Have you ever had a serious disease? Have you ever had a rare disease? Write and tell us below.

These nouns have similar meanings:

disease
illness
sickness
malady (less common)

These adjectives has similar meanings:

sick
ill
diseased (less common)

These verb phrases (‘to’ means it is the infinitive) have similar meanings:

to be sick
to be ill
to have a disease

Look at these words from the world of medicine and biology:

blood cells
stem cells
plant cells
animal cells
human cells
the blood circulation system
the blood circulatory system

Make sure you understand these words:

circle (a geometric figure)(a noun)
circular (an adjective)
circulation (the process of moving around)
cycle (something which happens again and again)

Look at these verb phrases:

was researching
were researching
will be researching
am researching
is researching
are researching

You can break the phrases up like this:

Past Continuous:

was researching
were researching

Present:

am researching
is researching
are researching

Future Continuous:

will be researching

You can also say ‘will research’. It has about the same meaning.

These words mean ‘not allowed’:

illegal (prohibited by law)
prohibited (not allowed)
forbidden (not allowed) (used by teachers with children)
not allowed (general)

Look at these phrases:

our whole immune system
most of our immune system
part of our immune system

your whole immune system
most of your immune system
part of your immune system

my whole immune system
most of my immune system
part of my immune system

Try these pairs of opposites:

adult
embryonic

active
dormant

an active state
a dormant state

active
quiescent (This is a new word for me. It is a technical scientific word)

Look at these synonyms:

go into division
divide
break up
separate

Try these ones:

was trying to understand
was trying to figure out
was trying to work out

Look at these relative clauses:

what signals they get
what signals they receive
what signals they send
what signals they transmit
what signals they give off
what signals they make

These two have the same meaning:

I just published
I recently published

There are often two ways to say something: in the active and in the passive:

I published the work from that.
The work from that was published.

This works with some verbs. It does not work with all verbs in all situations. You have to learn things step by step and learn common phrases rather than abstract grammatical possibilities which are seldom used.

Look at his one:

I decided to travel
It was decided that I travel.

Both are possible but the situation is very different. In the second sentence ‘the traveller’ does not control his or her life. Perhaps the speaker was a young person or an employee.

When we do a university course, there are a lot of words we use to talk about types of courses:

primary education (elementary school 5-12)
secondary education (high school) (13 17)
tertiary education (university level) (18 up)

The names of educational qualifications vary from country to country. The Australian system is something like this:

a certificate (a short course, perhaps only a month)

a diploma( a short course of one or two years)

a degree (a general term for any university qualification)

an undergraduate degree (a first degree, usually three years)

a bachelor’s degree (as above))

an honours degree (usually an extra year on a bachelor’s degree and with a high standard of achievement)

a post graduate diploma (a short training course or degree which is done after an initial undergraduate degree)

a Masters degree (a second or higher degree)

a doctorate or PhD (the highest level)

post-doctoral research (research which you do after you finish your PhD)

How does the education system work in your country? Write and tell us by leaving a comment below.

Soon you will hear a real conversation with an Australian woman. She has been to many countries. Many people from Australia travel a lot. Do people from your country travel a lot? Write and tell us. Write and tell us where you want to travel to.



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Section B: Listening Activities

Now listen to the whole conversation without the transcript. While you are listening go through this list and mark the expression you hear. Have fun!

[audio:medical research.mp3]

finished
went
studied
did
worked in
worked for
were working
went traveling
travelled through
ended up in
worked at
was
was
moved to
did
decided to move back to
took
went through
got back to
started
was
was researching
was trying to figure out
was
published
decided to travel

Listen again and mark the phrase you hear:

studied science
studied arts and humanities

a bachelor of science
a bachelor of medicine
a bachelor of law
a bachelor of engineering

a liver disease research institute
a cancer research institute
a heart disease research institute

worked at
worked on
worked in

worked through
worked with
worked for

the structure of cells in the blood
the metabolism of cholesterol in the body
the monitoring of bacteria in the stomach
the monitoring of temperature in the body

how it is broken down by the body
how it is broken down
how the body breaks it down
how it is broken up
how it is broken up by the body
how the body breaks it up

where it is transported to
where it is transported from
how it is transported
by what means it is transported
how fast it is transported

is looking at
are looking at
will look at
will be looking at
am going to look at
was looking at
were looking at
am looking at
is going to look at
are going to look at
am going to be looking at
is going to be looking at
are going to be looking at

hat determines when
that determines what
that determines if
that determines how
that decides how
that controls how

how it is modified
how it is delivered
how it is returned
how it is selected
how it is reproduced
how it is protected
how it is nurtured

am working on that
is working on that
are working on that
were working on that
was working on that
will be working on that

wanted to have a meal
wanted to have a break
wanted to have a holiday
wanted to have something to eat
wanted to have something to drink
wanted to have a look around

went running and ran through
went hiking and hiked through
went traveling and traveled through
went walking and walked to

lessons are taught
classes are taught
seminars are given
lectures are given
tutorials are given
lessons are given
classes are given

for five years
for like five years

do you speak Finnish
are you able to speak Finnish
can you speak Finnish

wanted to hear
wanted to know
wanted to learn
wanted to practise
wanted to go to
wanted to ask about

decided to move to
decided to move back to
decided to go to
decided to return to
decided to go back to
decided to leave

went to
went through
went round
went around
went over
went along

got back to Melbourne
arrived in Melbourne
arrived back in Melbourne

in a different field
in a very different field
in the same field
in a similar field
in a related field
in an unrelated field

kidney diseases
widespread diseases
rare diseases
infectious diseases
imaginary diseases
skin diseases
venereal diseases
serious diseases
blood diseases
liver diseases
heart diseases
common diseases
dangerous diseases

was researching
were researching
will be researching
am researching
is researching
are researching

animal cells
plant cells
stem cells
blood cells
human cells

forbidden
not allowed
illegal
prohibited

part of our immune system
your whole immune system
most of your immune system
our whole immune system
most of our immune system
part of your immune system
my whole immune system
most of my immune system
part of my immune system

what signals they transmit
what signals they receive
what signals they send
what signals they get
what signals they give off
what signals they make

I published the work from that.
The work from that was published.

I decided to travel
It was decided that I travel.

To see the entire transcript, visit this page: A Career in Medical Research.

This is the end of Lesson 5. This is also the last lesson of Be Aware. What do you think? Please leave us a comment below.

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