About the Workshops

Mother languages are the first sounds we hear. They connect us to our heritage and our beginnings. They tell us who we are. The letters that make our words are our foundations of learning. Our mother languages are our home. The Art of Literacy was a community arts and cultural development project that brought together children, young people and families to creatively explore contemporary mother languages of Auburn.

Using paper and styrofoam to make sense of words, meanings and worlds, project participants created ornate three-dimensional letters.

Majid Rabet, Jahan Verki, Paula Abood & Thom Scire

Auburn Centre for Community


The structure of work stations provided a non-threatening environment that enabled full engagement of all participants, regardless of age or ability level. It was great to see that every participant was supported to take part within the parameters of their own comfort level. This is particularly important when working with young people and children who have suffered trauma.

The importance of mother tongue (home language) as fundamental to identity and as the basis for second language development underpins the workshop and I think there might be a possibility to use this workshop as a “hands on” experience in workshops with teachers, student teachers and parents to highlight this idea.

The presenters were able to give intense one on one support to participants which is ideal for the development of supportive and open learning relationships

The focus on creativity and the making of language rather than the study of language is a model for differentiated and high quality teaching and learning. Some of the positive aspects are:

– [Participants] were encouraged to problems-solve and discover different ways to approach tasks.
– Participants had a range of choices and were able to use their preferred learning styles
– The activity concretised a number of aspects language learning and opened up a space for discussion for similarities and differences.
– The activities were playful and fun and support the idea that learning does not have to be painful. The various stages of project providing opportunities for repeated practice and embedding in memory of the linguistic content.
Barbara Schaffer, Educator

“Each language has its own stories, its own wisdom, its own cultures… so that gets transferred to the children, and that develops the child’s personality.”
Afshan, Participant


The creative process was documented by Nawal Abdi as part of the bigger archival project of mapping community arts and cultural development in Western Sydney.


“This Project was excellent for kids and show how kids can in very easy way learn mother tongue language especially where is different shape of letters and their pronunciation.

Kids enjoyed in creation shape with tools machine that Mr Majid made, and my granddaughters memorised those letters from that time and I am sure that they never forget it.
Arts is fantastic opportunity that kids made something by their hand as a artistic product, and apply in education to learn mother tongue language. Arts could be applied to learning in all age groups from young to elderly.”

Izeta Zecevic, Participant


The letters came to life as we created a structure made from recycled materials and hung the letters from the frame with string and thread. Dinka letters dangled next to Malayalam, together with Arabic, Farsi, Turkish, Bosnian and Dari, Tagalog and Italian. The installation was launched in Auburn Library and Auburn Centre for Community.