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REF NO.: 8

SUBJECT: Decoding Newfoundland and Labrador culture

DATE: Sept. 9

“I’m feeling right mauzy. Been ‘eaving and I’m all plugged up.” Translation: I’m feeling ill and am experiencing vomiting and constipation.

The recent Newfoundland film The Grand Seduction showcased the challenges of attracting and keeping a doctor in a small town. But imagine how different the film would have been if the young doctor wasn’t from mainland Canada but from China. And English wasn’t his or her first language.

The Faculty of Arts’ English as a Second Language (ESL) program is launching its second online initiative aimed at bridging language and cultural gaps for internationally trained professionals.

The free online course takes approximately 30 hours to complete and participants can learn at their own pace from anywhere in the province.

Following last year’s project targeting engineers, the Professional English Program for Internationally Educated Health-care Professionals (IEHP) is designed for health-care professionals who are new to Canada, new to the culture of Newfoundland and Labrador, and perhaps most crucially, new to the variety of English spoken here.

International medical graduates play an essential role in health-care delivery in Newfoundland and Labrador. According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons Newfoundland and Labrador’s annual report for 2013, approximately 39 per cent of the physicians practising in the province in 2012 received their medical degree from a medical school outside Canada. In 2012 there were 477 international medical graduates holding a full or provisional medical licence in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Kweku Dankwa has lived in Newfoundland and Labrador for over 15 years.  As a member of the IEHP working group, he is a great believer in the project. Originally from the Republic of Ghana, he says he experienced stumbling blocks early in his career in this province in terms of communicating with patients.

“Typically in Newfoundland the speed with which English is spoken, the tone, the choice of words for a given situation and the “dropping out” or apparent omission of words, combined with some unique vocabulary, make such a course necessary,” said Dr. Dankwa,  who is currently on staff at the Charles S. Curtis Memorial Hospital in St. Anthony.

The program is divided into two modules.

The first, Understand Newfoundland, focuses on listening to the distinctive Newfoundland and Labrador varieties of English spoken by patients, colleagues or neighbours and explores the culture and lifestyle of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The second module, Be Understood, focuses on working an individual’s own particular variety of spoken English so that with clearer speech, he or she will be better understood by the local people.

Marcia Spence is special projects co-ordinator with the English as a Second Language program.

“We hope that the easy access from anywhere in the province and the unique focus on Newfoundland and Labrador English and lifestyle will bring IEHPs closer – closer to understanding the language and culture of their new home and closer to achieving successful communication with their colleagues and patients,” said Ms. Spence.

All four regional health authorities in the province will be contacted directly to encourage employees to register for the program. The program is funded by

Citizenship and Immigration Canada as a settlement service open to those with permanent resident status. While the program is targeted to IEHPs in medicine, nursing and pharmacy, spouses and other allied-health professionals can register for the course as well.                                                                                                                     

Registration is open and is ongoing throughout the fall. For further details please visit www.mun.ca/esl/pep.

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For further information, please contact Marcia Spence, special projects co-ordinator, ESL program, at 709-864-8306 or mspence@mun.ca.

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