Wagga Wagga City Library’s new Community Languages Collection a novel way to learn English

Published: 13 Dec 2017 2:59pm

With our community made up of 107 language groups, Wagga Wagga City Library is giving our residents a helping hand to make sure nothing is lost in translation.

On the back of its highly successful Language Café program, the library is now featuring a Community Languages Collection of more than 2600 books from the State Library of NSW.

The collection features adult and children’s books in 14 different languages - Arabic, Chinese, Persian. Sinhalese, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Hindi, Tamil, Tagalog, Burmese, Urdu, Croatian, Serbian and Kurdish.

Library Manager Claire Campbell said the new books combined with the Language Café are making the transition to Australian life easier for countless new residents.

“The Language Café has been running since July with more than 70 participants and 20 volunteers spending a few hours per week practising English conversation,” Ms Campbell said.

“We have such a diverse community and the thousands of new resources in the Community Languages Collection will make people feel welcome in Wagga Wagga as they can still access their own literature while learning English.

“We’re also expecting some Arabic DVDs to add to the existing collection of bilingual picture books for families and we have a range of resources for people learning English as a Second Language.

“If residents need another language, ask our staff and we will contact the State Library of NSW to see what’s available.”

The benefits of the Language Café for people new to Australia isn’t lost on Library Assistant Mahsa Nikzad, who comes from Iran and has been living in Australia for just over a year.

Part of her role at Wagga Wagga City Library is helping coordinate the Language Café.

“The Community Languages Collection helps to put my mind at rest as I am very busy learning English all the time,” she said.

“The Language Café is a good way to improve my self-confidence as an English learner along with improving my conversational English.

“It’s also the best way of making new friends.”

The first year of the Language Café has been a success, with the program receiving a Highly Commended Multicultural Services Award at the NSW Public Libraries Association Annual Conference last month.

This week marks the final Language Café of 2017, with the topic of “Christmas in Australia”. Many participants will be experiencing their first festive season Down Under and have also shared their own culture’s celebrations at the café.

The Language Café will resume on Monday 8 January.

The Community Languages Collection is on a 12-month loan from the State Library of NSW and at the end of 2018 the current books will be refreshed with new titles.

Visit www.wagga.nsw.gov.au/library for more information.