SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • minority language;
  • bilingual;
  • language policy;
  • curriculum development;
  • midwifery;
  • education;
  • Welsh;
  • Catalan;
  • Irish;
  • health care;
  • quality

Identifying the factors influencing minority language use in health care education settings: a European perspective

The recent enhanced status of many minority languages across the European Community has led to increasing demands for their use within the public sector. This is particularly evident in health care, where, in circumstances of stress and vulnerability, denying opportunities for clients to communicate in their preferred language may place them at a personal disadvantage and compromise their health chances. In view of the exclusion of many minority languages from the public domain over the years, their re-introduction demands adaptations to health care education programmes in order to promote language sensitivity in practice. Before embarking on developments which establish such languages within the professional sphere, valuable insight may be gained by examining their current use in practice education. Furthermore, comparing their use across language communities enables the sharing of common experiences and furthers opportunities for developing networks across Europe. This paper describes an ethnographic study of the use, within midwifery education, of the Welsh language in north Wales, the Catalan language in Barcelona and the Irish language in Western Ireland. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with key lecturers, clinical mentors and students across the three communities in order to determine patterns of language use within a range of learning environments. Focus groups were also held in order to confirm the findings. The data reveal many commonalties in terms of language use across the three settings and important factors are identified which support the use of minority languages in practice education. The findings are invaluable for guiding future bilingual initiatives across health care education programmes.