Christina Reid and Ahmed Qasim

Fun and games at the library

Published: 24 Jan 2020 2:19pm

Wagga Wagga City Library has been filled with the sound of language and laughter as part of its Summer Language Café program.

Libraries are for everyone and Multicultural Services Officer Mahsa Nikzad, who has been coordinating the Summer Language Café, decided to take a different approach over this holiday period.

“We usually pair participants with volunteers on a one-on-one basis. As some of our volunteers are away over the break, I thought having group activities would be a good option. Games are an excellent ice breaker and a great way to start up a conversation,” Ms Nikzad said.

“As it’s school holidays, some of the participants come with their kids. So, by playing games, the kids can be involved too.

“All our games are designed for people who are learning English. And we can cater for people who know a little English, through to people who have none. It doesn’t matter what level you’re at, you’re welcome to come along.”

Manager Library Services Claire Campbell said creating the Language Café was a logical progression for the library.

“We started Language Café in 2017. Over the years, we’d built up a multi-cultural collection of books designed to help people learn English. There’s been lots of growth in Wagga, and we had people coming into the library saying, ‘I just want to practise English’. So creating Language Café seemed like the next step. It was also a great way to activate our collection of books.”

Ms Campbell said the library was aiming to reflect the changing face of Wagga.

“Our volunteers say they get just as much out of it as the people who come to learn English – you see some great friendships develop. At times it can get quite noisy, there’s a lot of laughter!

While there are many challenges facing participants, Ms Campbell said the Language Café was helping break down barriers, allowing people to learn more about each other.

Language Café runs year-round, every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, from 11am–12.30pm. No bookings needed for this free program, just come along to the Wagga Wagga City Library.

Pictured above: Joining in the fun times at Wagga's Summer Language Cafe recently were Ahmed Qasim and Christina Reid.