Teaching her students to have a voice
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
Hendrika Johnson has been teaching nursing and aged care at Brisbane North Institute of TAFE for 10 years, but she has made her mark on education world wide.
Hendrika is also a Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages educator. An increasing number of her students are from overseas, some of them refugees.
To help with the education of non English speaking students in her courses, Hendrika developed OYO, a language tool, which can be used in 40 different languages. The tool has industry related pictures, the English word and its correct pronunciation and the non English equivalent in the selected language.
"English is notoriously difficult to learn so I want to make sure that they can read, write, spell and pronounce correctly at least 1600 of the most commonly used words in health care," Hendrika said.
"I do not care if they do not know the word "astronaut" in English, as long as they know the word "diabetes".
"I teach them to have a voice. Being able to communicate in English gives them equality, self confidence and makes them more competent workers," Hendrika said.
The language tool can also be used in reverse, helping English speakers to communicate with non English speakers such as health recipients who suffer from dementia and have lost the use of the English language.
Hendrikas OYO language tool is now being used in hospitals, libraries, colleges and aged care facilities around the world.
During her career, Hendrika has worked as a Registered Nurse, a Director of Nursing, an educator, a consultant and a TESOL teacher both in Australia and overseas. She has trained in five languages, Dutch (her native tongue), English, French, German and Chinese.
"I do not speak all of these languages fluently, but I do have a working knowledge of them," she said.
"Communication is the powerful key for non English speaking people. It empowers them, gives them more opportunities and confidence in employment and social life and makes them feel more at home in their new country."