ACT bilingual storytimes
Project description and objectives
By delivering a program of bilingual story times, the library aimed to:
- Introduce the concept of languages other than English to young children;
- Enable families from a non-English speaking background to share their language with the rest of the community; and
- Encourage children and adults who speak languages other than English to visit the library and experience story time in that language.
Staffing and volunteers
Two people were needed for presentation / delivery of bilingual story times.
This was either:
- A member of the library staff (taking lead role in delivering story time), and a volunteer 'assistant' with background and proficiency in the language.
- Two library staff members - one with background and proficiency in the language and one as a support staff member to help delineate between stories in the two languages.
Time frameStory times have been on an occasional basis and were one hour in duration (20 – 30 mins storytelling and the remaining time in a related craft activity). Participants were encouraged to stay at the library as long as they wished to socialise and explore.
Several different strategies were used to find volunteer presenters with a proficiency in a language other than English.
1. Call for expressions of interest from library staff
2. Advertisement in internal ACT Govt Employee notices seeking an expression of interest
3. Advertising to bi-lingual preschools in Canberra and via ACT Bilingual Education Alliance
Once the programs were planned and dates finalised, the same channels were used to promote the program. The volunteer presenter also utilised their networks to promote the program.
Bilingual picture books were selected from the library's community language collections. In some cases the volunteer presenter also used their personal collection of resources, and where possible these items were sourced and added to the library collection. Songs and rhymes were usually based on the presenter's experience. Craft activities used were related to the stories presented.
Bilingual story times were promoted through those channels used for other library events, including by media release, flyers in the library, and information distributed to various networks, e.g. ACT Bilingual Eduation Alliance.
The project enabled young children to experience their mother tongue beyond the home and gave children from the broader community an opportunity to experience another language, encouraging social inclusion. It was also an opportunity to promote the language resources held by the library.