Con.text

Dementia Care is Front of Mind

 

 

Sandra Gordon cares.

“I became involved in the area of dementia care within health care in 2000 when I became the clinic coordinator for the Specialized Geriatric Consultation Team at Rockyview General Hospital,” says the MRU Dementia Care instructor.

Her primary work there was the assessment of older adults, and her findings were significant.

“I would say that over 50% of our clients were living with a dementia,” she adds, “The issues for them, their care providers and families became of interest to me as a nurse.”

Gordon is an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. A nurse with a Master’s degree in Gerontological Certification, she’s currently working to add a PhD to her credentials, researching how health care professionals understand dementia.

“Most recently,” she states, “we launched an Advanced Knowledge for Dementia Care series for Health care Professionals working across the care continuum.” This MRU Continuting Education program has the goal to increase knowledge and skills for health care professionals who may be in positions to influence how decisions are made about dementia care.

This is a gap that, in her research, she believes needs to be filled.

“I believe there is very little for direct care providers outside of ‘inhouse’ learning,” noting that, “Many organizations provided education for families and family care givers, but not so many for direct care providers and health care professionals.”

Gordon acknowledges that, despite being a course that it of interest to students who are thrust into the position of care-giver for a family member afflicted with the condition, “This is not a ‘how to’ course, the focus is person-centered care that is relational.” She explains, “When one is practicing in an area with vulnerable populations the more we know about best practice approaches for care, the better the care for persons living with a dementia and their families.”

It is Sandra Gordon’s belief that, through courses like this, “Those working within dementia care can influence systemic issues such as poor communication between supportive living and acute care, primary care and long term care.”

Through her instruction, Gordon is offering some positive piece of mind for the industry.

– JLove

 

 

 

 

 

 

MRU Diversifies World Languages to Better Suit Local and International Demand

h_customizedtraining

For those interested in World Languages at MRU, a conversation with Post Media might have been lost in translation.

Due to the changing demands for Language courses, MRU Continuing Education is strategically diversifying its offerings to be conscious of its impact to both the local and global marketplace.

Mount Royal University’s response to the needs of the student population is to move to a more customized model. As a result, some language courses will no longer be offered in the form of open enrolment registration.

“Where we’ve seen a shift in demand has been in subject-specific language education. Customized courses such as English for Flight Dispatchers or Italian for Travel have been successful ways of implementing the teaching skills of our language experts into tangible industry-specific target markets,” says Jenelle Peterson, Director of Business Development and Marketing at the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension at MRU.

Those looking for basic language training options can look to our partner institution the University of Calgary, which we’ve worked closely with to ensure that quality language training is readily available in our city. In alliance with Adult Learning, Languages and Liberal Arts at the University of Calgary, the agreement was made for the two institutions to strategize their combined offerings.

Leigh-Ann Duke, former Program Administrator, World Languages at MRU says, “Both institutions weren’t making minimum registration so they had to cancel.”

“We, too, have struggled with enrolment levels in the past few years,” claims Dr. Sheila LeBlanc, Director of Continuing Education at the University of Calgary, “so we wanted to work with MRU to ensure we weren’t competing or cannibalizing each other’s programs. A business decision was made to continue to service the needs of our collective students.”

The University of Calgary still offers open enrolment language classes.

Mount Royal University will add value to these options with customized language training.

Where MRU is seeing a considerable increase is in English language training. In Calgary, there are countless new Calgarians, including many refugee families, to whom these courses have been catered. In addition, there are foreign trained professionals who have the skills of their occupation, but require the language and cultural instruction to successfully integrate into their field here in Canada.

Globally, MRU has become a leader in building relationships with other post-secondary institutions to offer English language training to experienced teachers and professors who are now required to offer their courses in English to meet the demands of the world.

Juan Manuel Lopez is a professor Art and Entrepreneurship at the University of Guanajuato in Mexico. He was one of a ten-student classroom of teachers from the four campuses of his institution who spent the last two weeks at MRU training to offer their courses in English.

“We are receiving students from all over the world,” Lopez says, “We want to offer them a quality education.”

Globally, like the University of Guanajuato, many institutions are required to teach their courses in English to meet the international demand and to further globalize their programs. With customized language training opportunities like this, Lopez notes, “We are able to teach multicultural classrooms.”

This reorganization of MRU’s Languages program has been advantageous for Language instructors at MRU. Peterson explains, “No loss of staff has occurred. Our contract instructors are, in most cases, receiving more hours per customized course, so it’s a mutually beneficial move for both students and staff.”

“We believe we have found a wonderful niche in English training,” concludes Peterson. “All in all, this strategy allows both Mount Royal University and the University of Calgary to run more language courses while remaining service-minded for our students here and abroad.”

Find out more information about Customized Language Training at MRU.

– by JLove

Juan Manuel Lopez (back row, far right) and fellow University of Guanajuato professors learning how to teach in English at MRU

 

 

 

Growing Changemakers with Social Innovation

f16_ce_blog_tree-670x447

 

 

 

 

Meeting urgent and complex challenges such as climate change, food security, and urbanization requires new knowledge, skills, and approaches. Social innovation is about finding ways to introduce lasting changes at all levels to increase the resilience of vulnerable people and the planet. Social innovators – people we like to refer to as changemakers – come from every sector and discipline, and they may or may not identify with the language of social innovation. What they do share is a commitment to taking on complex social, environmental, and/or cultural challenges to create meaningful change.

At Mount Royal University, we’ve been working in association with MacEwan University to develop a Social Innovation Certificate Program. We started by connecting with people from across sectors who are involved in the social innovation space as entrepreneurs, intrapreneurs, funders, and scholars to ask their advice about what is needed in social innovation education in Alberta. Then we approached people who know a little something about social innovation to design the courses. Fabulous folks like Kate Letizia (Calgary Can, The City of Calgary’s Climate Program), Mark Cabaj (Here to There, Tamarack Institute) and Ben Weinlick (Think Jar Collective, Skills Society Action Lab) are sharing their expertise and wisdom as course designers.

One of the goals of the Social Innovation Certificate Program is to strengthen the growing network of changemakers in Alberta and beyond. Therefore, we’ve chosen a blended delivery model, which means that each course will have in-person and online components. The courses will be offered synchronously in Calgary and in Edmonton, so that we can connect people from the northern and southern parts of the province and offer opportunities for pan-provincial collaboration. Additional instructors will be joining the designers to deliver each of the four courses that make up the core of the program, and we have been inviting other inspiring changemakers to contribute their insight through video and in-person appearances during the courses.

The courses themselves are designed to provide a shared foundation for social innovation and then to dive more deeply into systems change, social impact, and the social lab space. Together, as learners, we will explore social innovation frameworks, resources, and tools to further change initiatives that learners are already involved in or are considering. We will study examples of successful social innovation and highlight current issues with this approach. We will take time for inward reflection and to form outward connections.

Have we got the formula right? We don’t know for certain – this is a learning journey for us, too. What we do know is that learners will develop a deeper understanding of themselves as changemakers, of the social innovation landscape – locally and further afield, and of tools and resources required to further their own work. Moreover, learners will connect with others who are also making meaningful change – those still exploring what their contribution may be and those whose contributions may have already created significant impact. We invite you to join us in January 2017 as part of the first Alberta-wide cohort of changemakers participating in the Mount Royal University & MacEwan University Social Innovation Certificate Program.

  • Guest blogger Jill Andres, Changemaker in Residence, Institute for Community Prosperity, Mount Royal University
  • A closer look at Mount Royal University and MacEwan University’s Social Innovation Certificate Program helps learners understand the program’s goals and approach, and assess its potential to further their own personal and professional social innovation objectives.
  • Register for our upcoming social innovations webinar

 

  • img_1458

Find What’s Next for You at MRU Think Talks

 

ce_header_think_talks_850x260

 

 

Plan A doesn’t always work.

For those who identified with their career path early and sought to plug themselves into their vocation, put in a good few decades with incremental raises and notable achievements and bow out into retirement at the top of their game, 2016 is a slightly different landscape.

Businesses, too, are having to scramble to stay on top. They’ve had to toss out their existing 5 and 10 year plans because they didn’t anticipate the magnitude of the boom/bust cycle. Mount Royal University Continuing Education is here to help people abandon Plan A and start exploring the rest of the alphabet.

On October 20th, 2016 at 2pm in the Bella Concert Hall at MRU, 3 speakers, Eliot Hoppe, Judy McMillan-Evans and Dwight Boehm, will help guide people towards finding what’s next.

MRU Think Talks is an opportunity for us to engage and provide our community with resources they need to re-position,” says Jenelle Peterson, Director of Business Development and Marketing with MRU Continuing Education. “We’ve created these talks to share the expertise of our instructors, start conversations that inspire people to create change and facilitate a space to network with peers and education providers. We’ll be able to connect with those in attendance, then post this content online for students to access worldwide.”

The three speakers selected are pleased to be a part of this event with this inspirational mandate.

Eliot Hoppe is a seasoned speaker and instructor for many business seminars at MRU. He will present Body Language Influence: A Better View of The First Impression. With over 80 annual speaking engagements, audience members will likely get a great first impression of his observations on the impact of non-verbal communication on relationships. This is an ideal set of skills for those trying to reinvent themselves in their workplace, perform better in interviews or to confidently transition to another field.

Judy McMillan-Evans follows with Tactics for Challenging Situations, where she guides participants to take stock of who they are, what skills they have and what they may need to do to succeed in taking their next step.

McMillan-Evans, a 25-year veteran instructor with MRU whose popular courses in Entrepreneurship, teaches people the self-realization and self-reliance needed to step out on their own. “There are no guarantees in life,” she notes, “And challenges arise constantly. Rather than let challenges cause stress, it is wise to learn strategies to handle these challenges effectively.”

Her presentation’s tone is well reflected in her personal outlook, “Opportunity surrounds us every day, in every economy. The challenge is recognizing the opportunity and stepping towards it.”

Dwight Boehm, an influential Supply Chain Management instructor at MRU, responds to the corporate side of this issue with his presentation Why is Simple so Hard? In it, he demonstrates how building effective processes set companies up for long-term success.

“Sadly,” Boehm confides, “Mentors are not being sought out as much as they once were and fewer people are willing to share their time and their talent.” Proving a worthy exception to that, Boehm’s mentorship in the classroom has spanned a decade and counting, “The most valued commodity in life is consistency and to achieve that goal, your processes have to be simple so you can repeat them.”

He acknowledges the role of peoples’ hard work and education in reaching their goals, “Once they accept their success is directly related to the effort they make, this will take them on the path of learning more and doing more.”

Boehm emphasizes effective solutions for companies and reminds his students to strive for more, “The sweetest fruit is at the top of the tree so be prepared to make some effort to achieve your life goals.”

MRU is excited that all three presentations will be filmed for future release online and in select broadcast opportunities. “We’ve put together some complimentary and relevant speakers for our target audience,” says Dimitra Fotopoulos, Program Director, Business and Professional Education at MRU Continuing Education. “Each of these instructors are well-respected in the classroom and in their industries. We think that the tools they can provide in a presentation will be valuable suggestions to those who must reframe their goals.”

Part of the experience for those in attendance is the networking opportunity that follows in the lobby of the Taylor Centre for the Performing Arts. “That’s where a lot of important connections happen,” Fotopoulos says, “where everyone finds out that they’re not alone and that commitment to learning something new or taking a new accreditation might be the key that unlocks the door to a new chapter for them.”

“What’s more,” adds Peterson, ”is that admission is free.”

That’s a welcome perk for anyone, especially those affected in this economic climate.

So, for those looking to find their next step, make MRU Think Talks a part of your solid Plan B.

To register, simply go to mru.ca/thinktalks

– by JLove

unnamed-4

Goals & Assists

hockey_canada_640 ce_blog_hockeycanada_player-497x753

 

 

Jemma Young first hit the ice in Lindsay, Ontario.

“I started in boys’ hockey, then switched to girls until I went away to school,” she says.

Growing up admiring the likes of Canadian hockey legends Hayley Wickenheiser and Cassie Campbell gave Young role-models who understood perseverance in practice and gold-medal achievement.

As the Manager of Social Media with Hockey Canada, this life-long learner values her MRU teammates’ support , and still tries to, “get on the ice at least a couple times a week.”

Before she landed her current position, Young chalked up many assists. She worked at MRU in the careers office as the Work Experience Coordinator finding placements for MRU students, and then as Marketing Coordinator who supported those providing these work terms. She strategized, “One of the perks of being an employee is getting access to some of the courses.” So, she thought she’d take a shot at it. After all, as the Great One, Wayne Gretzky noted, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

Young recounts, “I enrolled in the Social Media for Business Certificate and I also completed the Public Relations Extension Certificate as well.” Completing the coursework as fast as she could, she finished both certifications within two years. Like any good hockey game, her future success came down to the final push.

“In the final project,” she says, “I was randomly paired with Hockey Canada which, for me, was awesome because I played hockey when I was young.” Each of the students was to create a social media strategy for their non-profit partners. Hockey Canada wanted to promote their grassroots hockey and so Young and her team ‘dug down deep’ and set to work.

It seemed the timing was right. “I was able to showcase some of my skills and build some relationships there.” She stated, “They were looking for somebody to work with their social media and…” it seems like, with her off-ice performance, she became Hockey Canada’s first round draft pick.

Young now manages 56 social media accounts for the organization. Like a true professional, she acknowledges the team effort, “Because we’re managed by the government, we have bilingual accounts. I oversee daily posting and working with sponsors on co-branded campaigns. I’m not bilingual, but I work with a translation team.”

What are the 3-stars in her education experience? She’s quick to decide, “I think the flexibility of the timing for any full-time working professional, it’s great to have that.

Another major benefit is being surrounded by other working professionals; people generally working in the industry.” And finally, “All of our instructors were knowledgeable and working in the industry, so they not only had the academic knowledge, but real-life work experience as well.”

Her work supports all of Hockey Canada’s events from the grassroots level to the Olympics and the World Cup. Many of hockey’s greats have gone on to become community leaders, role-models and coaches. Young is no different. She has recently been added to MRU Continuing Education’s faculty roster.

“I am that ‘model student’” she says, counting herself among the MVPs that have gone right from the farm team to the big leagues. Now that much of her strategic work is being done from the bench, she says “It’s funny being on the other side… so to speak. But having been there (as a student) before is a definite benefit.”

A grassroots success story for MRU.

A gold-medal achievement for Hockey Canada.

Whatever side Young is on, she’s winning.

 

-by JLove

ce_blog_hockeycanada_hockeygroup-800x533 ce_blog_hockeycanada_badge-800x800

 

 

 

Education: A Renewable Resource

farah1
Farah Kaleem, Project Coordinator – Stakeholder Relations, The Talent Pool

 

It’s all too familiar a story; someone is laid off from the energy sector and scrambles to find a job in a climate where there are fewer and fewer opportunities in their industry.  The body of the story is a montage of trials, interviews and realizations that a change needs to be made to achieve success. The end of that story has yet to be written for some, but for some proactive others like Farah Kaleem, the next chapter has begun.

Farah moved to Calgary two years ago from Pakistan. “I was working with CAPPA (Canadian Association of Petroleum Production Accounting) as an Events Coordinator.  With the economic downturn, our sponsorships were drying out and we didn’t have budget to do events.” She admits that the writing was, indeed, on the wall, “After the annual conference, they decided to let me go.”

“It was my first winter in Calgary,” she says. That foreign chill embodied her internal struggle.

Like many who were let go late last October and afterwards, she had to make use of her new found time, “For the first few months, I was too busy looking for work, but the market was brutal. It took me a while to realize I had to do something constructive.”

So, she enrolled at MRU Continuing Education.

“I was referred to MRU Cont. Ed. by a friend doing his Supply Chain Management Certificate,” she admits. “He said why don’t you look at their courses. They have really good instructors and the class sizes are small, so you get adequate level of attention from the instructors.”

On this recommendation, she signed up for an introductory course on Marketing and Strategic Communication. While taking the course, she says, “I really enjoyed my experience. The teacher was very focused and open in terms of sharing ideas and listening to our ideas and experiences.”

As she delved further into the certification from late February through July, the perks only got better, “I got exposure to professors from different industries doing similar types of work I was doing,” she explains. This allowed her to reach into these different industries for employment.

Just this week, Farah Kaleem started her new job as a Project Coordinator – Stakeholder Relations at The Talent Pool, which supports businesses in search of skilled professionals. She is optimistic about this role, which reports to a supervisor Farah describes as, “very accomplished, cooperative and I am looking forward to learning a lot from her.

Having successfully navigated the waters of career change during an economic downturn, it seems like she’s the perfect person to assist others in their transitions. She chimes, “It’s exactly what I wanted and needed.”

And so, the story’s conclusion is a new beginning, a continued new life in Calgary with an exciting new opportunity. “I love it here.” She says of her new hometown. With the transitional help of MRU Continuing Education, things are looking up for Farah.

– by JLove

Amazing Grace Under Fire

image11
Kara Solecki, Police Studies

 

If being part of a police force means being calm in the face of chaos then Kara Solecki has selected the right program.

Currently enrolled in the Police Studies Extension Certificate at MRU Continuing Education, Kara and her family were forced to show grace under fire when they were among the 88,000 residents evacuated from Fort McMurray this summer.

“I was at work,” Solecki remembers, “and reports started coming in that specific neighbourhoods had mandatory evacuation orders, and pictures started surfacing of the fire in full tilt in town.” That was the time that her ‘serve and protect’ instincts kicked in. “It wasn’t so much shock at that point as it was fear; worry about all of my friends and family, and then a sort of surreal calm; it was time to plan what the next step was.”

That next step was gathering with her family (mother, father, two sisters, aunt and uncle) and leaving their home in the Timberlea neighbourhood at the mercy of the spreading wildfire.

“We didn’t know where we’d end up so I was planning for the worst and getting any supplies that may be necessary.” She says. Among the short list of items she was able to grab were her textbooks. She recalls, “For whatever reason, at the time I didn’t think I could part with them… It was exam time!”

Despite a nail-biting drive out of town on a quarter tank of gas, an evacuation plane ride into Edmonton by Westjet and the community of Rocky Mountain House rallying to support her family as they stayed temporarily with friends, Kara kept up with her studies. “I got through that month away through the help and support from my professor Doug King and keeping busy. There was so much emotional turmoil at that time, but staying busy with school work was just so normal, and it felt like it grounded me.” In hindsight, she reflects that, “I needed this sense of normal so desperately, when everything else was anything but normal.”

She remains appreciative that Doug King and other staff at MRU suggested and supported any extensions she might need, and let her know that told her to focus on her safety and well being. That support, Kara admits, “allowed me to put my worry elsewhere.”

“The flexibility of MRU’s online Police Studies Extension Certificate has always been important to me, as when I signed up, I decided to continue working full time as well as pursue other studies.” Now back with family and friends in her hometown she’s grateful to be immersed in her studies while dealing with her new normal, “During the time I was evacuated, this flexibility obviously showed it’s benefits once again.”

As for what’s next, she realizes that the unexpected happens, but it’s a good idea to have a plan. “It is my hope to attend MRU‘s Bachelor of Arts – criminal justice degree program in the fall of 2017, then I plan to pursue a career in probation or parole; hoping to be one of the first people of contact in the road to rehabilitation for criminal offenders.”

Kara concludes, “Taking this course helped clarify what a huge portion of my future will look like and made me realize that I never want to stop learning.”

-by JLove

image4
Fire in Solecki’s neighbourhood
image6
Evacuation Road in Ft. McMurray

Back to School: By the Numbers

S16_CE_Blog_Accounting-670x447

 

 

 

Back to school brings back many memories.

You can always count on a few staples; first day photos, that written assignment asking what you did last summer, and some new form of math.

This Fall semester, MRU Continuing Education plans to keep one of those back to school staples strong with a new Accounting Basics Extension Certificate. “The program is designed to provide students with a working knowledge of accounting principles, the bookkeeping process and the use of accounting software,” says Kate Estby, Program Coordinator, BPE. “It aims to provide both a theoretical foundation and the practical application of accounting knowledge.”

The distinction is comprised of two core courses, Financial Accounting Fundamentals (36 hours) and Accounting Fundamentals Practice Set (12 hours), then students can select two of the following accounting software options.

         MS Excel Level 1

         Simply Accounting Level 1

         Simply Accounting Level 2

         Quick Books Level 1

Estby thinks a major draw is the hands-on focus of the program saying, “It provides students with a month’s worth of accounting documentation for a small retail business. Students are expected to practice the activities performed during the accounting cycle, including journals for business transactions and adjusting entries, extracting trial balances, posting journal entries to the general ledger and preparing financial statements.” It’s designed to be as real-world savvy as possible to provide students with authentic practical accounting situations.

This type of offering is one of many that MRU Continuing Education is offering. Accounting Basics is a career skill that is easily transferrable. According to Estby,

“This program would be great for anyone who works with the accounting department including managers or payroll professionals.” In addition, she notes, “the combination of both theoretical and practical knowledge provides the skills needed to make yourself more marketable to work in business and management positions.”

But, its relevance goes further, Estby says, “The practical nature of the course also supports individuals looking to start their own business who need a foundational knowledge of the accounting system.”

Regardless of who you are, there are some back to school staples. First day photos we’ll leave to you, what you did last summer can be posted on your social media channels, but for the new form of math… we’ve got you covered with the new Accounting Basics Extension Certificate.

To find out more about the program join us for an online information session on Wednesday, September 7, 2016 from 12:00 – 12:30 pm. To register or to find out more, click here.

 

– by JLove

 

 

The HR Advantage

 

8-29-2016 3-57-31 PM

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the advantages a Human Resources (HR) program has over any other is no matter where your career ends up you will always have to interact with people. The fundamentals and principles you learn through HR has the ability to make you a better employee, supervisor, manager, owner… heck, a better person.

Studying human resources you are exposed to gain a working knowledge of: Strategic Planning, Leadership/Management, HRIS HR Technology, Recruitment, Terminations, Administration, Metrics, Performance Management, Training and Development, On-Boarding and Orientation, Succession Planning, Exit Interviews, Mentoring, Health and Safety, Position Descriptions, Recognition Programs, Benefits, Disability Management, Conflict Resolution, Retention, Compensation, Policies and Procedures, Satisfaction Surveys/Culture Surveys… to name a few.
 

The majority of students are hung up on receiving a position that contain the words ‘Human Resources’ in their job title. But, the wonderful thing about studying and implementing ‘Human Resources’ is that you can do it in any position and at any level.

 

I make this point at the beginning of any course I instruct as approximately 50% of my students are professionals brushing up their education and 50% are wanting to get into HR with no previous experience. My advice is, regardless of your position, to start doing what you learn in class right now!

 

At the end of one of my class a student (let’s call her ‘Eve’) came up to me. This is how our conversation went.

Eve: I’m a waitress and I deal with customers all day, how am I supposed to practice HR with my customers?

Adam: Who screens your resumes, selects candidates, interviews and orients them?

Eve: My manager, and he does a terrible job. He is always busy so he just hires whoever.

Adam: Why don’t you offer to help screen some resumes so only the candidates you feel would be a good fit will be hired?

Eve: What? I don’t get paid for that!

Adam: You are missing the point, you have no experience, only a good educational foundation, if you don’t use it you’ll lose it, start applying what we are learning in class now and help out your manager. How else are you going to get practical experience?

Eve: … (stunned silence)

By the end of the course, Eve was screening resumes, interviewing candidates, training and onboarding. She became a better employee with her existing company and was gaining practical experience for her upcoming dream job in human resources.

Another advantage of an HR education is you get to learn the inside scoop on how people get hired. Getting a job in the current market can be very challenging. I have seen many students struggling with this and have created a web series to help. With informative topics like The Modern Resume, Interviewing, Networking and Accessing the Hidden Job Market, there’s a lot of important information you need to find your next job. You can access it here: goo.gl/aaKrdG.

These are among the advantages an HR education has over any other program. You can essentially apply it anywhere, anytime, in any job. It’s up to you how to find the best way to use these skills to forward your career.

 

  • Guest Author Adam Czarnecki
Adam Czarnecki

Adam Czarnecki, CHRP is a member of the Senior Management team of a heavy duty truck dealership group in Alberta where he is responsible for HR, H&S and IT. He is a past HRIA Board Member and a HR instructor at the Mount Royal University.

It’s How You Say It

 

 

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

-Nelson Mandela

International professionals have three unique courses to help them improve their English language skills in their workplace this Fall. With a focus on context of English use, these courses offer a lot of feedback and first-hand training to ensure that emerging English speakers are understood.

“Storytelling is our most natural and fundamental communication tool,” says Jennifer Orr, Program Coordinator for Speech Arts and Drama, MRU Conservatory. The addition of speech coaches offers unique value to the Enhanced Speaking Skills for Internationally Educated Professionals (IEPs) course.

She explains, “Our voices are most effective when our own thoughts and emotions are connected. English as an additional language (EAL) speakers often lose vocal range, confidence and expression as they work to speak in English. The language is not fully their own, so their voice isn’t either.  We hope to change that.”

Kathy Dawson, Program Administrator in Teacher Education for MRU’s Languages Institute, agrees that in the case of IEPs, it’s not just what they say, it’s how it’s said in the context of their work environment. “Language training that focuses on this enhanced quality helps improve overall confidence.”

Pathways for Internationally Educated Professionals (PIEP) is a blended format course (classroom and online components) that also has a dramatic flair. With a weekly theme, participants role-play workplace scenarios with actors, then receive feedback from the language instructor, a business expert, their peers and the actors themselves. Kathy says they’re not focused on grammar per se, but instead looking for, “that which interferes with understanding rather than trying to be perfect.” She adds that the feedback is on a more complex level, “It’s not the standard ‘You used the wrong verb tense’, but more along the lines of ‘You mixed up she and he and your verb tenses were inconsistent so I couldn’t follow the story’.”

The rule of thumb for all enrolled in these courses is, “My language is only as good as it fits the context in which I’m trying to communicate.” Each workplace sets its own professional tone and has its own professional lingo that must be understood to facilitate effective communication.

In its final offering this academic year is the Communication Studies for Health Professionals (CSHP) course, which has targeted language integration techniques in the medical and healthcare fields. Kathy nods, “It’s been a great way to help healthcare professionals understand hospital culture so they can transition to the Canadian context more easily.” This was a course that also offered participants the opportunity to role-play with actors in medical examination situations. When CSHP is no longer offered, healthcare practitioners will be able to enrol in PIEP and gain workplace communication skills alongside fellow professionals in other sectors.

From a vocal perspective, the classes will be experiential and all students will be fully engaged in the process of storytelling,” Jennifer Orr attests. From vocal tone, range and expression to vocal strength and confidence, storytelling can be empowering. “When we tell stories we access our memories and experiences – and are free from the constraints of “formal” communication.” Orr states. “Storytelling brings the speaker into the communication moment and the audience to the speaker.” This, by extension, enables IEPs to assimilate and communicate with their chosen professions’ corporate culture.

That, as Orr put it is, “Powerful stuff.”

  • by JLove