Journal of Professional Nursing

Experiences of clinical tutors with English as an additional language (EAL) students

Hongyan Lu, BN (RN), MA, B Med (China). Nursing Lecturer, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland
Caroline Maithus, M.A. PG Dip, Dip Tchg. Senior Lecturer, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland

Reference:  Lu, H. & Maithus, C., (2012). Experiences of clinical tutors with English as an additional language (EAL) students. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 28(3), 4 - 12.


Clinical tutors, referred to in the international literature as clinical supervisors, facilitators, mentors or instructors, are responsible for providing and supervising workplace learning opportunities for groups of Bachelor of Nursing (BN) students. They also play a key role in assessing students. The role modeling and support provided by both clinical tutors and registered nurses (RN) or nurse preceptors helps students become familiar with the language in which nursing work is realised. As BN student cohorts in New Zealand have become more diverse in terms of cultures, ethnicities and language backgrounds, clinical tutors have to directly facilitate the development of context-specific and client-focused communication skills for students who speak English as an additional language.

We undertook a study which looked at the perceptions of new nursing graduates with English as an additional language (EAL) on the development of spoken language skills for the clinical workplace. As well as interviewing graduates, we spoke to four clinical tutors in order to elicit their views on the language development of EAL students in previous cohorts. This article reports on the themes which emerged from the interviews with the tutors. These include goal setting for communication, integrating students into nursing work, making assessment less stressful, and endorsing independent learning strategies. Based on their observations and on other published research we make some suggestions about ways both clinical tutors and EAL students within their teaching groups could be supported in the development of communication skills for clinical practice.

clinical tutors; clinical practice; English as an additional language (EAL), spoken language, communication skills


areas for teaching, supporting and supervising students for improvement. Clinical tutors and nurse preceptors are expected to act as professional role models for the student. During clinical practice, nursing students have to demonstrate application of nursing knowledge and skills and perform in accordance with the professional norms and values of the nursing profession. Underpinning the experience of clinical practice is the development of professional identity as a nurse (Grealish &Trevitt, 2005; Undergraduate nursing education includes a substantial component of clinical experience that helps nursing students link theory to practice (McLeland & Williams, 2002). Over the three years of the BN programme, clinical tutors from nursing schools work together with staff at a range of clinical placements to ensure the learning and practical experience is optimal (McLeland & Williams, 2002; Nursing Council of New Zealand (NCNZ), 2005; Vallant & Neville, 2006). During visits to students in the workplace, clinical tutors assess their practice, gather feedback from the preceptors with whom the nursing students are assigned to work, and identify..........cont...

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