Laurea University of Applied Sciences (FINLAND)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2017 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 477-480
ISBN: 978-84-697-6957-7
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2017.0193
Conference name: 10th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2017
Location: Seville, Spain
Language skills are of crucial importance for the immigrants. When employed, however, there are often little opportunities to learn the occupational language more in depth. This article focuses on changes that take place when professional language and communication training is implemented by individual coaching on the job instead of formal training in a classroom. This kind of coaching was enabled in 2016 by a pilot of a European Social Fund (ESF) project called the Career Path (Urareitti in Finnish). The implementation discussed in the article took place in Vantaa, metropolitan area of Finland. The data used in this article are notes of coaching sessions as well as feedback interviews with the nurses involved.

The Career Path aims at improving employability of highly educated immigrants in multiple ways. Ease of access in professional language learning throughout one’s career is one of the targets, and the pilot discussed in this paper explores the phase when the professional has entered working life - in this case a nurse of immigrant background employed in a unit of public health care system. It is a working environment where communication is paramount: “Language is involved in everything – in security and in relations”, as one of the nurses expressed it.

Coaching was selected as the method of the training due to four principles that differ from traditional frontal teaching: the focus is on individuality, professional development, involvement of the work community and flexibility of the implementation. This is to say that the primus motor of the training is the nurse – she or he has the ownership of learning.

The training took place on working hours. The trainee guided the action: some preferred to focus on patient work, others wished to concentrate on documentation. Some nurses had specific aims of their own, with others the needs were clarified by the coach’s observations and a joint discussion. This is to say, while the nurse working with the patient the trainer makes notes and observations for feedback discussion. The coach’s knowledge is used to point out expressions of the nurse’s language use that could be ameliorated.

The nurses’ needs concerned both oral and written use of professional Finnish. For example the nurses wished to gain better skills in phone discussions, in dealing with patient’s family members and in patient guidance. In terms of writing e.g. more precise documentation of wound care and filing a critical incident report were dealt with.

The nurses found the training useful and that the coaching was successfully implemented according to the principals stated. “This has everything to do with my job. When I use it all the time, it’s easy to remember.”

There are three points of views of change identified during this pilot: First of all, the role of the trainer consist of more interaction, a better insight of the professional field and a more functional view to language. Secondly, for the nurse this model provides a time-efficient and supportive way of keep on learning the language. According to the nurses this method of training is an energy-saver compared to the burden of extra language tuition in addition to a demanding job. Thirdly, as the training takes place within the community, it opens up pathways for the other nurses and professionals to guide and support in question regarding the language.
Occupational language learning, coaching, nurses, immigrants.