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English language training targeted to help parents of children with special medical needs



INDIANAPOLIS — An Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis center and a local community organization are co-recipients of a Community Health Engagement Program grant of nearly $23,000 to apply academic research to solve a community health issue.

In the pilot project, “Targeted Language Instruction for Limited English Proficiency Latino Families of Infants with Special Needs,” the International Center for Intercultural Communication at IUPUI and Family Voices Indiana will develop a program to teach health-related English to Spanish-speaking parents of infants with special medical needs. The International Center for Intercultural Communication, part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, provides educational expertise in English for Specific Purposes. Family Voices Indiana serves parents of children with special health care needs.

As project partners, ICIC and Family Voices Indiana will collaborate to develop and facilitate a targeted English-language curriculum for parents with children admitted to Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.

“This targeted language instruction is different from the general English language classes typically offered to immigrant populations,” said Ulla Connor, director of ICIC, Chancellor’s Professor of English, and the Barbara E. and Karl R. Zimmer Chair in Intercultural Communication. “ESP identifies and provides highly specialized language skills needed for communication in particular scenarios to specific communities of learners with similar goals and proficiency levels. ESP courses generally revolve around role-playing, targeted vocabulary and limited time periods in which to achieve language objectives.”

Dr. Diane Lorant, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, has been instrumental in identifying the need for and participating in the development of this project.

“This type of program was successfully implemented with parents in a local school to help with their children’s education; however it has not previously been offered to help parents with their children’s medical needs,” Lorant said. “The skills parents need include not only instruction on how to communicate with their children’s health care providers, but also how to read prescription bottle labels, arrange doctor’s appointments and read bus schedules so they can travel to these appointments.”

The ICIC/Family Voices Indiana project was one of four selected from the 15 proposals submitted for the 2014-15 awards from Community Health Engagement Program, part of the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute.

“This project has the potential to serve as a nationwide model giving non-English-speaking parents the tools they need to successfully participate in the medical care and treatment of their children,” said Rylin Rodgers, director of Family Voices Indiana.

 About the International Center for Intercultural Communication

 The International Center for Intercultural Communication is an internationally recognized leader in English for Special Purposes education and research. ICIC developed the first workforce ESP program in Indiana and also designed a workplace English-language curriculum for the state’s “English Works” initiative. The center also offers ESP education for medical professionals in the schools of medicine and dentistry on the IUPUI campus.

 About Family Voices Indiana

Family Voices Indiana is the Family-to-Family Health Information Center for Indiana. Funded by Health Research and Services Administration, Family-to-Family Health centers are nonprofit, family-staffed organizations that help families of children and youth with special health care needs and the professionals who serve them. Family Voices Indiana staff are uniquely qualified to help target families because they are parents of children and youths with special health care needs.