Leadership Links Webinar: The amazing benefits of language learning with older people in care

Date and time
Thursday, 31 August 2023, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm (GMT)
Virtual event.

This event is in the past. Watch the recording here.

Embark on a journey of discovery and empowerment in this Masterclass that provides insights into the significant health and wellbeing benefits that come with learning a language in older age—benefits that range from brain stimulation, boosting cognitive reserve, delaying of the onset of dementia to co-creation of learning between care staff and those in care, as well as fostering social, psychological, and physical wellbeing.

The two presenters from the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics at the Open University will not only introduce their research findings about the above benefits for all involved in care settings and explore the role of languages in care; Bärbel and Sylvia will also share details on the significant impact of the social care professional development course Learning Languages with Senior Learners, which they developed in partnership with the Glasgow-based charity Lingo Flamingo.

The session will outline how this non-medical intervention has led to a change of mindset in care settings, where rather than considering age to be a barrier to learning and self-fulfilment, staff and residents discovered the transformative effect of engagement with languages and cultures on wellbeing. As an upskilling opportunity for social care staff the course has enhanced participants’ employability and the development of their leadership and digital skills; whilst care homes across Scotland have identified the provision of languages activities as a unique selling point.

Learning objectives:

  1. Understanding the gains of engagement with languages and cultures for older people and staff in care
  2. Understanding the importance of languages for social care staff and residents with degenerative brain disease
  3. Understanding the employability benefits and leadership opportunities of upskilling in this are for social care staff

Our Speakers

Bärbel Brash

Bärbel Brash

Staff Tutor in Languages, based at the Open University in Scotland

Bärbel Brash leads a team of Associate Lecturers from the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics and is responsible for the successful delivery of part of the School’s curriculum. She has extensive experience in the design of and teaching on distance learning courses to upskill language teachers worldwide in learning how to take their teaching online, and a keen interest in the use of digital media in teaching. She also contributes to the innovative external engagement activities of the School across Scotland, in enterprise as well as research. In the HEIF-funded knowledge exchange project ‘Benefits of language learning for senior learners’ Bärbel has collaborated with the social enterprise Lingo Flamingo and the Universities of Edinburgh, St Andrews, and Madrid to develop new pedagogical approaches to deliver languages teaching to senior learners, and community engagement and employability opportunities for volunteer tutors and care workers. She has co-written the award-winning online short CPD course Learning Languages with Senior Learners.

Sylvia Warnecke

Sylvia Warnecke

Senior Lecturer and Staff Tutor in Languages at the Open University in Scotland

Sylvia currently holds the position of Associate Head of School Students and Nations in the OU’s School of Languages and Applied Linguistics with a specific remit for external engagement in the UK Nations. Following on from her work on social presence in online language learning and teaching, her current research and Knowledge Exchange work focuses on the connections between bi-/multilingualism, language learning and wellbeing in people with degenerative brain disease. Another focus of her work is the support of the learning and teaching of indigenous languages of the UK, specifically Scots and British Sign Language. Alongside this, her work aims to support the speakers of community languages, specifically in migrant and refugee communities. Sylvia has led the development of pioneering online professional learning curriculum with third sector organisations for social care staff, teachers as well as members of community organisations, all with an emphasis on the importance of languages for people’s access to and inclusion in society and education. She has co-produced the award-winning online short social care staff CPD course Learning Languages with Senior Learners.

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