In Taiwan’s hospitals, language barriers often create challenges for foreign patients, many of whom come from Southeast Asia. To solve the problem, a language university in Taiwan initiated a service-learning program to train college students to assist in improving communication between foreign patients and health care workers. This study aims to explore the student volunteers’ service-learning experiences when applying their language ability in medical settings. The program utilized Roehlkepartain’s (2009) 6-staged service-learning model that included investigation, preparation, action, reflection, demonstration, celebration, and sustainability. Each student volunteer served a minimum of 18 hours in a semester at a local hospital. They assisted with a variety of non-medical service tasks, while using English or other foreign languages to assist with communication for patients of various nationalities. The study employed a mixed-methods research design, which included quantitative pretest and post-test surveys, students’ qualitative reflexive journals and interviews. The 60 college volunteers were majoring in a variety of language-related departments and had no formal background in health care. Findings illustrated intercultural service-learning programs have the potential to increase students’ soft skills, improve intercultural competence and attain global citizenship through volunteer service in local hospitals. This paper reveals how intercultural service-learning can be integrated into language learning, while nurturing college students’ intercultural competence through real-world, cross-cultural interactions in local contexts.
I-Jane Janet Weng, Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Taiwan
Jun-Fang Liao, Wenzao Ursuline University of Languages, Taiwan