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Multilingualism in Health Care: Communicative experiences of expatriate healthcare providers with varying linguistic repertoires in Windhoek, Namibia

Mlambo, Nelson (2017-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This study reports on the investigation of communicative practices among multilingual participants in healthcare in Windhoek, Namibia, from the perspective of expatriate healthcare practitioners working in the private sector. The multilingual environment of healthcare has remained largely uninvestigated in Namibia, which is a matter of concern considering how heavily Namibia relies on healthcare providers of foreign origin whose linguistic repertoires are diverse. The general objective of this research was to gain insight into multilingual communicative resources and needs, and how from the perspective of healthcare providers (HCPs), communication is managed. The study has a qualitative research design, using a questionnaire to collect data from 19 HCPs. The 19 HCPs who participated in this study selfreported a wide range of linguistic biographies; in addition to their mother tongue/home language the HCPs indicated that they had acquired various other languages. English was acquired by all participants at an early age, most between the ages three and nine years old. The context of English language acquisition was reported as the school environment, starting as early as in pre-primary school. Expatriate HCPs with many languages in their repertoire working in a multilingual context found the linguistic diversity among colleagues and patients to be challenging to a lesser extent, and enriching to a greater extent. The study further found that the expatriate HCP respondents experience the use of many languages to be an engagement that broadens their professional, social and cultural views and this ultimately results in improved work relations and improved HCP-patient relationships. The use of English as well as indigenous Namibian and foreign languages was found rather to improve than prohibit efficient interactions with the patients, and multilingualism was found to be a resource, especially within a context like Windhoek, Namibia.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Hierdie studie doen verslag oor kommunikatiewe gebruike wat ontwikkel het tussen veeltaliges werksaam in gesondheidsorg in Windhoek, Namibië, gesien uit die perspektief van buitelandse praktisyns werksaam in die privaat mediese sektor. Die veeltalige omgewing van gesondheidsorg is nog nie wesenlik ondersoek in Namibië nie. Dit is kommerwekkend as in ag geneem word in watter mate Namibië afhanklik is van buitelandse gesondheidsorg voorsieners met uiteenlopende en verskillende taalkundige repertoires. Die oorkoepelende doel van hierdie navorsing is om inligting in te win oor veeltalige kommunikatiewe hulpbronne en behoeftes, en hoe, uit die perspektief van die buitelandse mediese personeel, kommunikasie tussen veeltaliges met verskillende repertoires bestuur word. ‘n Kwalitatiewe navorsingsontwerp is gebruik om data by 19 deelnemers, almal werksaam in gesondheidsorg, in te samel. Die deelnemers het gegewens uit hulle eie talige biografieë aangebied, en in die proses ook almal aangedui dat hulle naas hulle moedertaal verskeie ander tale aangeleer het. Engels is deur die meeste deelnemers aangeleer tussen die ouderdomme van drie en nege jaar oud. Die konteks waarin deelnemers Engels aangeleer het, is aangegee as die skoolomgewing, van so vroeg reeds as in die pre-primȇre skool. Die studie het bevind dat veeltalige mediese personeel van buitelandse herkoms wat in Windhoek se mediese sorgomgewing werk, ‘n ryk taalkundige omgewing teëkom wat tot ‘n mindere mate as ‘n uitdaging en tot ‘n groter mate as verrykend ervaar word. Die studie het verder bevind dat die mediese personeel van buitelandse herkoms die gebruik van verskeie tale in die werkplek beskou as ‘n gegewe wat op professionele, sosiale, en kulturele vlak hulle perspektiewe verbreed, en wat uiteindelik hul werksverhoudinge verbeter asook die verhoudinge tussen praktisyns en pasiënte. Die gebruik van Engels, inheemse Namibiese tale, asook ander nie-Namibiese tale het, volgens die deelnemers, eerder effektiewe interaksie met pasiënte verbeter as om dit te verhinder, en hulle het veeltaligheid as ‘n hulpbron ervaar, veral binne ‘n konteks soos Windhoek, Namibië.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102832
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