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  • The reading club at Campsie Public School (SBS)Source: SBS
Parents and children who read together in a new school program are excelling in English literacy.
Kirsty Johansen

SBS Radio
2 Jun 2018 - 12:53 PM  UPDATED 11 Oct 2018 - 10:15 AM

It is an hour before school starts, but the students cannot wait to get to work. With their parents by their sides and books in hand, their reading club gets underway.

11-year-old Vivian Xu says it is the most exciting part of the day.

"I like reading mystery books and [books about] mythical creatures."

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Campsie Public School in south-west Sydney has started a reading club to enhance literacy skills, both for students and parents, and it is having a dramatic impact on NAPLAN results.

For Min Hye Kim, age 11, it is about learning new words and helping the younger children.

"New vocabulary, and I've been actually advancing [my] vocabulary a lot, yeah."

More than 80 students from 49 different language groups attend the daily sessions. For almost all children, English is their second language.

One parent, Justine Flynn, says her 6-year-old son ShiHyeong, originally from Korea, has learning difficulties that have been identified. But in the past 12 months, she says, he has improved constantly.

"He's much more focused. It's inspirational. It's just watching that your older peers, the kids that you want to be like, actually love and enjoy reading."

The reading club originally started because most parents could not read to their children at home, due to time and English literacy skills. It has now become a part of their daily routine.

Learning and support teacher Helena Suess is the key behind the program. She says that after 40 years of teaching, she is still passionate about changing people's lives.

"I had one case where a mother thanked me because I had taught her to read, and that was truly rewarding, because then I know that she can help that child and any other children she has with their reading."

Each session is recorded and uploaded to the internet so families can continue practising at home.

The school's NAPLAN reading results are proof that practice is worth it.

Nine-year-old Firyal Tabbara is now excelling in English at school, even though Arabic is still spoken at home.

"When I first got, like, really good at reading... now I can read perfectly, and I've just done really good in the NAPLAN. So it was easy for me now."

The bilingual school teaches across all learning areas in Korean five hours a week and also offers students the chance to learn eight other languages during and after school.

Additional-language teacher Anne Colley says the reading club in English is just an added bonus.

"Children who read a variety of texts form opinions about the world, and, once they have an opinion about the world, then they can write it."


The SBS National Languages Competition 2018 is an exciting initiative to encourage and celebrate a love of learning languages in Australia. It’s a nationwide competition to engage language learners and reflect on the cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity of Australia's multicultural society.

What amazing possibilities does learning a language open for you? Get involved and enter the competition now. 

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