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Innovative 'soap opera' project aimed at teaching Spanish to health professionals

CHAPEL HILL -- The rapid influx of Latinos into North Carolina and across the United States has caught health-care providers unprepared, experts say. Seriously compromising the quality of available services, too few doctors and nurses speak Spanish, have access to interpreters or possess enough knowledge to address immigrant health-care needs.

"Acknowledging this gap, the Office of the Provost at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has spearheaded a three-year project aimed at closing the communication gap between Spanish-speaking patients and their care providers," said projector director Claire Lorch, a clinical instructor in public health nursing at the UNC School of Public Health. "Targeting intermediate Spanish speakers in the health professions, the program revolves around an 80-minute health drama set in the rural South."

The new film, "A su salud!," is modeled after "Destinos," the highly successful Spanish language story-based program, and combines language development and cultural awareness with health content focusing on Spanish-speaking immigrants. Using a blend of technology and media -- video, interactive exercises, Web and traditional print-based materials -- the program is ideal for distance learning and will enable students and professionals to complete their course work anytime anywhere, Lorch said.

An interdisciplinary UNC committee worked with WrayMedia, a production company from South Carolina, and an Argentine screenwriter to develop the program. The team created a pilot to test the methodology and technology. Pilot participants representing six health professional schools rated the program very favorably.

"The unique combination of technology, media and written text accommodates the needs of a diverse range of learning styles," said committee member Dr. Julia Cardona Mack, a lecturer in Romance languages. "It also enhances learning by allowing students to see, hear and participate in 'real' int
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Contact: David Williamson
david_williamson@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
21-Jun-2002


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