Language is often a barrier for people from different backgrounds, but a Wagga Wagga City Council program is bringing the community closer together through the power of conversation.
There are currently 35 volunteers and 50 participants each week at Wagga Wagga City Library’s Language Café, but the program’s continued success means more volunteers are needed.
“Three times a week, volunteers help participants practice their English through conversation in our Community Learning Space,” Library Manager Claire Campbell said.
“Wagga Wagga has a growing Cultural and Linguistic Diverse (CALD) community and our participants have come from more than 30 countries of origin such as Syria, Iraq, Iran, Korea, China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka, Burma, Spain, Afghanistan, Mexico, Pakistan, Indonesia and Columbia.
“With the growth of interest in the Language Café, we are putting the call out to community members who can help these new residents to Wagga Wagga and Australia improve their English, as well as their understanding of our unique Aussie culture.”
Since it began in July 2017, the Language Café has sparked even more CALD programming opportunities at the library, including Arabic language classes for children; Tech Savvy Senior computer classes in Mandarin, Arabic and Dari; a Persian Language Book Club, and booked-out Italian classes.
Library Assistant Mahsa Nikzad is originally from Iran and participated in the Language Café to improve her English. Today she’s part of the library team that coordinates the Language Café.
“The Language Café was a good way to improve my self-confidence as an English learner along with improving my conversational English,” she said.
“It’s also the best way of making new friends.”
Language Café sessions are held on Monday, Thursday and Saturday during school terms from 11am to 12.30pm.
The Saturday sessions have become increasingly popular, with volunteers especially needed for the weekend class. Volunteers with teaching experience are especially encouraged to lend a hand.