Connecting students with seniors

For members of Australia’s culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities, aged care can present unique challenges, particularly when accessing linguistically appropriate information. In 2012, researchers at Flinders University launched the Language in Action Program to bring together language students and CALD community members in aged care to achieve these aims.

Developed as a community engagement program, Language in Action saw university-level language students undertaking placements in local aged care facilities where their language is spoken. The program engaged both students and community members in the provision of linguistically and culturally appropriate information for the CALD community.

The Language in Action program found that students who participated in these placements were more likely to pursue further language studies while sustaining their community engagement. For members of the CALD community, these partnerships provide positive and language-appropriate interactions that are beneficial to their social and mental wellbeing.

The Language in Action project has seen ongoing successes, with benefits for both CALD communities, language students, aged care providers, and cultural associations. This mutually beneficial relationship has strengthened community ties, with many language students continuing their relationship with community groups through volunteering after their involvement in the program ended.

In recent years, placements have expanded to ethnic media, schools, and cultural associations. For students, the program provides valuable experiences in dealing with unexpected linguistic and cultural challenges, as well as greater awareness of their linguistic self-worth and self-efficacy.

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