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Learning languages with senior learners

Learning languages with senior learners

The OU in Scotland are leaders in a novel, life-enriching intervention in Scotland’s care homes and local communities with the first courses where people learn how to teach languages for wellbeing, particularly to support older people and people with dementia. The potential positive impacts of language learning have been well documented in recent years, e.g. in relation to cognitive decline and building cognitive reserve.

Our innovative language learning pedagogy builds on these findings, focusing less on achieving levels of proficiency and more on having a positive impact on brain health, participation and social cohesion. Those who teach do not need to be experts. At the heart of our pioneering pedagogy is the notion of learning a new language together using multisensory approaches that allow every learner to engage, even a non-verbal dementia patient.

Our training courses align with what is at the heart of the Open University’s mission: social justice. We believe in creating an inclusive community and responding positively to different needs and circumstances so that everyone can achieve their potential. Here, this means empowering older people through novel learning opportunities involving a range of community stakeholders while at the same time changing mind-sets and perceptions of senior learners, thus re-imagining care.

The Open University in Scotland with long-standing expertise in teacher development and teaching languages, also with senior learners, partnered in 2017 with Lingo Flamingo, a Glasgow-based charity, founded to make language learning accessible to senior learners to increase their wellbeing and help them overcome depression, isolation and marginalisation. Lingo Flamingo work with a community of volunteers who deliver languages activities for learners in various settings.

The course Learning Languages with Senior Learners was written by Dr Sylvia Warnecke and Bärbel Brash, Staff Tutors in the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the Open University in Scotland (https://www.open.ac.uk/scotland/), with contributions from Robbie Norval and Rosi Mele from Lingo Flamingo. For further information please contact scotland-languages@open.ac.uk

This course covers a variety of study materials revolving around the theory and practice of learning languages for wellbeing with senior learners. As someone who works either in paid or unpaid care settings or care situations, you can become drivers of change by implementing what you learn here and starting a positive move towards a joined language learning journey with senior learners.

While studying this course you will have the opportunity to apply your new skills in your care setting with your senior learner/s, and we hope that your confidence in this aspect of your practice will increase. 

If you want to have a first glimpse at how this language learning can work in practice and what impact this can have, watch this video by Lingo Flamingo, and this interview with course participant Andrea Campbell, who applied her new skills in a care home in Scotland's Central Belt.

Key learning points

In this course you will learn how to use languages for engaging with older people and people with dementia in order to support healthy ageing and wellbeing.

After studying this course and participating in the tasks you will have an awareness of:

How senior learners learn

The concepts of co-creation with senior learners, participatory literacy and social cohesion in care settings

  • The concept of wellbeing in the four UK Nations and wellbeing in the context of language learning
  • How to plan and sequence a simple language learning activity
  • Suitable materials for a language learning activity
  • How to reflect on the delivery of a language learning activity
  • Effective and inclusive communication in a language learning activity
  • How to evaluate a language learning activity for quality assurance
  • Regional and national language learning projects and initiatives beyond school settings
  • Current research on language learning and brain health, and practical support strategies
  • What dementia is and how it may impact on individual learners

 


  • Learning Languages with Senior Learners - Pilot

    Learning Languages with Senior Learners - Pilot

    This is a CPD course for care workers who care for older people and people with dementia.

    Try this course

    Course

    24+ hrs

  • Learning languages with senior learners - The OU and Universidad Complutense de Madrid

    Learning languages with senior learners - The OU and Universidad Complutense de Madrid

    This course is specifically designed for students of the Departamento de Didáctica de las Lenguas, Artes y Educación Física, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, and focuses on the issues surrounding learning languages in older age.

    Try this course

    Course

    20 hrs

  • Learning Languages with Senior Learners 1_2023

    Learning Languages with Senior Learners 1_2023

    This course is designed for carers in any setting seeking to upskill in using language learning with senior learners to support healthy ageing and wellbeing. 

    Try this course

    Course

    24+ hrs

  • Learning Languages with Senior Learners - 2nd Pilot

    Learning Languages with Senior Learners - 2nd Pilot

    This course covers a variety of study materials revolving around the theory and practice of learning languages with senior learners. As someone who works either in paid or unpaid care settings or cares for someone at home, you can become a driver of change by implementing what you learn here and starting a positive move towards a joined language learning journey with senior learners. While studying this course you will have the opportunity to apply your new skills in your care setting with your senior learner/s, and we hope that your confidence in this aspect of your practice will increase.

    Try this course

    Course

    24+ hrs

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