Lesson for kids and adults

Learning English through the written word at Lismore library were (left at back) Djidji Mapatano and baby Julian (4 months), (front, from left) Daniel Mapatano, 3, Helen Deng, Adut Makvac, 4, and Tony Hezron, 3.
Learning English through the written word at Lismore library were (left at back) Djidji Mapatano and baby Julian (4 months), (front, from left) Daniel Mapatano, 3, Helen Deng, Adut Makvac, 4, and Tony Hezron, 3. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

CHEERFUL children and their positive parents sat in a circle at Lismore Library yesterday, speaking in improving English mixed with a shamble of African languages.

More than 30 parents and children, many of them from African backgrounds, took part in the Reading With Our Children project, a Department of Education and Communities scheme to give children from non-English-speaking backgrounds a headstart in English before they commence school.

Mei Lin Marlin, community information officer for Non-English-Speaking background, was the driver behind the event.

After hearing from many African mums asking questions about reading with their children, she helped develop the program.

"Most of the parents have lost their parents or families before coming here and they do not have a point of reference on how to read with their children, especially in English," Ms Marlin said.

But, "it's twofold," she said, with not only the children learning better English, but the parents increasing their knowledge and understanding at the same time.

Djidji Mapatano and her family came to Lismore three years ago from the Democratic Republic of Congo and arrived in the city with plenty of questions about reading to her three young children Daniel, 3, Russell, 2, and Julian, four months.

After finding help from Ms Marlin and the Lismore library, Mrs Mapatano said, "My eldest loves books now".

Her children aren't the only ones benefiting, said Mrs Mapatano.

"(Reading) helped me to improve my English as well."

The insightful day began with story time and reading, followed by group discussion and a quiz on what the parents had just learnt.

The library also gave out book packs as part of the Lismore Let's Read initiative.

Australia's Language Demographics

Approximately one fifth of the population speaks a language other than English.

2% don't speak English at all.

The most common languages spoken in Australia other than English are Mandarin (1.7%), Italian (1.5%), Arabic (1.4%), Cantonese (1.3%) and Greek (1.3%).

14% of people were born in non-English-speaking countries.

One fifth of people have at least one overseas-born parent.


Many voices

The most spoken languages in the world:

  • Mandarin 1,205,000,000 people
  • Spanish 429,000,000 people
  • English 428,000,000 people
  • Hindi 328,000,000 people
  • French 300,000,000 people

Topics:  lismore library

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