More and more internationally educated health care professionals wanting to improve their workplace communication skills are turning to Occupation-specific Language Training (OSLT).OSLT ( courses helps immigrants to Ontario who are permanent residents of Canada or protected persons develop their language abilities and knowledge of Canadian workplace culture so they can communicate more effectively at their jobs. Led by Colleges Ontario and funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, these practical and innovative courses are available at no charge at 13 colleges and cover seven occupational areas, including health care.

Among them is Workplace Communication Skills for Health Care, a 180-hour course focusing on interacting clearly and effectively with colleagues, clients and supervisors in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, medical offices, community agencies and patients’ homes. Geared to those with training and/or work experience as a dental hygienist, medical radiation technologist, nurse, personal support worker or sleep technologist, the course also lets participants develop strong interviewing, networking and career-building communication skills. The course is for those with a Canadian Language Benchmarks 6 to 8.

Workplace Communication Skills for Interprofessional Health Care Providers, meanwhile, concentrates on communicating in interprofessional health care teams. Designed for those with training and/or work experience as a nurse, physiotherapist, social worker or dietitian, the course teaches how to describe one’s occupation to another professional, provide information on a client’s care, write a progress note, seek assistance from/provide assistance to team members, and manage challenging client interactions. This 140-hour course is delivered through both classroom-based and online instruction, and is geared to those with a Canadian Language Benchmarks 7 or 8.

“For newcomers with health employment backgrounds, these courses provide a useful way to practise workplace language skills and build confidence so they can interact more effectively at work,” says Linda Franklin, president and CEO of Colleges Ontario.

By Sharon Aschaiek (

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