Language Skills for Pharmacy Technicians – Paraphrasing

In order to become a pharmacy technician in Ontario you must have completed secondary school and have either several months of on-the-job training or have completed a college program in pharmaceutical services.

If you are interested in attending a college program you will want to choose the best one for you. Reading and understanding college course calendars will be important tasks. This paraphrasing exercise focuses on text from a community college.

Level of language
Course calendars are written at different levels of language, depending on the program, the intended audience and the image the college wishes to portray.

As a professional, you will be expected to read material that is written at a high level of language. You may also be expected to communicate with your peers or supervisors at the same high level. This will not pose a problem for some of you and yet may be intimidating for others.

At other times, you may be required to present complex information in simple terms so that the listener or reader can understand right away.

Reading vs. speaking
Different people may acquire a second or third language in different ways but, as a rule, we understand before we speak and we read before we write. Many internationally-trained professionals who received their training in countries in which English is not an official language had to read textbooks in English. As a result, their reading comprehension skills are very good. Their ability to use the terms in spoken language may not be at the same level.

To paraphrase a statement is to restate it using different words and/or grammar while keeping the same meaning. You can paraphrase a statement at the same level of language or at a different level, e.g. make the sentence harder or easier than the original. This requires a solid understanding of the concepts and a good range of vocabulary. Being able to express difficult concepts more simply can help your listener. It can also help you to discuss subjects that you understand but cannot yet talk about at a high level of language.

Paraphrasing exercises can be done in writing or orally.

An example
Let”s take the following as a sample statement that can be found in the description of a pharmacy technician program at the community college level: On-the-job placement will commence after successful completion of the prerequisite course work.

The first step in paraphrasing this statement is to make sure you understand it. You may already know what it means. If not, take a moment to think about the meaning. Do you have to check any words in a dictionary or a thesaurus? Do you have anyone you can ask?

The second step is to brainstorm possible substitutes for the words contained in the statement, for example:
On-the-job placement – short-term actual work experience
Commence – begin; start
Successful completion – passing
Prerequisite – required

The third step is to construct a sentence containing new words which is grammatically accurate and conveys the same meaning as the original. There may be a number of suitable possibilities. It helps to read the sentence out loud to see if it “makes sense”.

The following is the result of one attempt at paraphrasing our example:
Short-term actual work experience will begin after you pass the required class material.

The fourth and final step is to have someone else verify that you have in fact been able to keep the same meaning and that your spelling and grammar are accurate.

Improving this skill
Doing crossword puzzles and reading a wide range of material are two excellent ways to improve your paraphrasing skills.

Hands-on exercise
You will find five sentences below which are taken from the Centennial College full-time program calendar, pharmacy technician program. Try to follow the steps outlined above as you paraphrase these sentences. You may choose to change the level of language – just make sure you are consistent. This means that for the purpose of this exercise you should avoid combining high level language with very simple terms.

Possible answers are provided to guide you but, again, there could be many suitable responses. Don’t feel obliged to change every word and please change the grammatical structure of the sentence if you wish.

  1. Enroll in our dynamic program and become an indispensable part of the Ontario health care team.
  2. Our program offers current and innovative curriculum, savvy instructors who are experienced in this field, and a computerized, state-of-the art dispensing and compounding laboratory.
  3. Our curriculum is current and dynamic and is continuously being revised to reflect the trends and changes in the workplace.
  4. It reflects the new vocational standards determined by various professional pharmacy organizations, employers and educators throughout the province.
  5. This program offers combined classroom theory and hands-on practical labs.

Ready? Then check our suggested answers