Lesson plan - Anh's story



The learning sequence is aligned to the Australian Curriculum: English and is designed to support Anh‘s story. It has three activities:

  • Understanding Anh: in this activity students will explore some of the emotions that Anh experiences as she considers her cultural identity.
  • Many stories museum: students research the country of birth of several generations of their family and contribute to a classroom ‘museum’.
  • Everyone belongs in this activity students think about diversity in the Australian community, and create a script for a television advertisement that portrays this diversity.

The activities are self-contained so students can complete any or all of them. There are two reproducible worksheets.

Curriculum: English, Civics and Citizenship

General capabilities: Literacy, Critical and creative thinking, Personal and social capability, Information and communication technology (ICT) capability, Intercultural understanding

Cross-curricular priority: Sustainability

Anh’s story

Hi. I’m Anh.

It’s not often I ask myself who I really am, but that’s what I’m doing right now.

We’re going to have a day at school where we have to wear clothes and bring food to celebrate who we are and where our families are from.

Well, I was born here and so were both my parents. So I was thinking that I’d wear shorts and take some lamingtons. And celebrate being an Aussie: that’s who I am!

But tonight my bà made my very favourite dinner: I call it ‘magic noodles’ and that makes her smile. Bà often looks really sad so it’s good when she smiles. Her mother taught her to make the noodle soup in Vietnam; but she couldn’t make it for a many years because her life was very hard. And when she first got to Australia, she couldn’t buy the things to make it taste like it should.

But now there are lots of Vietnamese shops here. And I go with Bà when she buys the spices and incense that she has always loved.

So, I am an Aussie. But I love ‘magic noodles’ and it would make Bà so proud if I took them to school. I’m thinking that I really do have a special story to share about who I am and where my family is from.

Learning outcomes:

  • Discuss characters and events in a range of literary texts and share personal responses to these texts, making connections with students’ own experiences / Draw connections between personal experiences and the worlds of texts, and share responses with others / Make connections between students’ own experiences and those of characters and events represented in texts drawn from different historical, social and cultural contexts
  • Share feelings and thoughts about the events and characters in texts
  • Understand that language can be used to explore ways of expressing needs, likes and dislikes
  • Identify the point of view in a text and suggest alternative points of view
  • Understand that use of language varies according to audience, purpose, context and cultural background
  • Understand that English is one of many languages spoken in Australia and that different languages may be spoken by family, classmates and community
  • Engage in conversations and discussions, using active listening behaviours, showing interest, and contributing ideas, information and questions
  • Understand the use of vocabulary about familiar and new topics and experiment with and begin to make conscious choices of vocabulary to suit audience and purpose
  • Compare opinions about characters, events and settings in and between texts
  • Construct texts featuring print, visual and audio elements using software, including word processing programs
  • Create imaginative texts based on characters, settings and events from students’ own and other cultures using visual features, for example perspective, distance and angle
  • Plan, rehearse and deliver presentations, selecting and sequencing appropriate content and multimodal elements for defined audiences and purposes, making appropriate choices for modality and emphasis.

Activity 1: Understanding Anh

Listen to Anh (or read the text) as she talks about what she might take to school on the special day where students are to celebrate who they are and where their families are from. Share your thoughts about the following questions with other students in your class:

  • Do you think that Anh may have been worried about needing to be the same as other students when she said she wanted to ‘wear shorts and take lamingtons’ to the celebration day at school? Have you ever made a decision that was based on not wanting to be different from your friends?
  • Why do you think that Anh decided to take Vietnamese noodle soup to school instead of lamingtons? Do you think that this was a difficult decision for her? Explain your answer.
  • Can you think why there were many years when Anh’s grandmother could not make the noodle soup? How important do you think that special foods (from their ‘home’ country) are to migrants and refugees when they come to live in Australia? Why?
  • What emotions do you think that Anh feels as she tells her story? Read the text again and identify some of the things that might make Anh feel happy, sad, proud or confused? Think of ways that Anh could show her family (and her friends) how she was feeling. How do you show people what you are feeling?
  • Why do you think that Anh says her grandmother will be proud if she takes the noodle soup to school? What do you think that Anh’s parents might think about her decision?

Imagine how Anh was feeling as she said goodnight to her family at the end of the day when she decided that she did have a special story to share at school. Write an entry in Anh’s diary that reflects her thoughts and emotions in coming to that decision.

Activity 2: Many stories museum

Let’s find out where the families of students in your class were born. Ask your family to help you to complete:

When everyone in your class has completed their worksheets, share the information about your families and mark each of the countries on a map of the world.

You may be surprised at how many countries are marked on the map!

Discussion question: What changes do you think have occurred in the Australian community as a result of people coming to live here from so many countries?

Choose a corner of your classroom (or another space in the school such as a corridor or the library) and create a museum exhibition around the theme ‘Many stories’. Everyone in your class should select one of the countries that a member of their family was born in. Find out something interesting about life in that country and prepare a story to display in the Many Stories museum. You can do some research about the country or ask your family if you can bring an object or photo from that country to school.

You need to decide how to display all of the objects and photos:

  • will you have strings from a world map to each exhibit?
  • will you include photos of family members?
  • will you use the story of each object as a museum label?
  • will you create a ‘virtual’ museum on a website?

Why not select a special time to invite your families to visit the Many Stories museum? Your local newspaper may even want to write a story about the many stories that represent the students in your class. Tell them about it!

If possible, invite people from your community who have recently arrived in Australia to visit your classroom and share their stories. You could ask your visitors questions such as:

  • What has been the most difficult part of living in Australia?
  • Has anything about Australian life surprised you?
  • What do you do in Australia to help you remember the country where you used to live?
  • What do you miss most about your life before coming to Australia?

Activity 3: Everyone belongs

Part A – Statues

Think about the following questions and share your responses with students from your class:

  • Anh describes herself as ‘an Aussie’. What do you think that it means to be ‘an Aussie’?
  • What values and beliefs do you think that Australians share?
  • Is it possible for Anh to be both an Aussie and Vietnamese?
  • What would someone mean if they described themselves as a ‘Vietnamese Australian’?

Did you agree with the other students? Or were there some questions that you had different responses to? Can you explain this?

There are many different views about questions such as these in the Australian community. Do you think this may create problems?

The main message of Harmony Week is Everyone Belongs. What images do you think of when you hear this message? What do you think that Everyone Belongs might look like?

Think about how you can use your bodies to represent the meaning of Everyone Belongs. Your task is to work with a small group of students to create a ‘statue’ or ‘frozen image’ that conveys the message Everyone Belongs. As a group, you need to make decisions about questions such as:

  • What parts of our bodies can we use to convey meaning?
  • What message does an outstretched arm convey? What effect would outstretched fingers have? What do you think of when you see a body curled tightly in a ball?
  • Should the bodies of people in your group be close together or spread out in the statue?
  • For this message, is it appropriate to have students ‘frozen’ some distance from the rest of the group?
  • What overall shape can we make with our bodies to convey the message Everyone Belongs?

When you create your group statue ask someone to take a photo of it.

Did your statue look the same as those that other groups created?

After looking at the other statues, is there anything that you would like to change about your group’s statue? Why?

Part B – Seeing ourselves

Australia is an interesting place to live. There are over 22 million people living in Australia who all contribute different ideas, religions, languages and customs to our country. You can learn more about the cultural diversity of the Australian community.

Over the next week, look carefully at the people in the advertisements that you see when you are watching television. Write a brief description of the people who are portrayed in each of the advertisements. For example, are most of them young or old? Male or female?

Bring your lists to school and discuss whether the people in these advertisements reflect the wide range of people who make up the Australian community? How many Australians will see people from their own cultural background portrayed in the advertisements?

Now imagine that you have just won a contract to make an advertisement to screen on prime time television. The product you are to promote is a new brand of sunscreen that provides protection from sun damage and is invisible when applied to skin. The contract requires you to portray the diversity of the Australian community in both the wording of the message and the cast of characters that you select. The advertisement should help to communicate the message that ‘everyone belongs’ in Australia.

Work in a small group to create a script that could be filmed for the advertisement. Use the questions on Worksheet 2 to guide the many decisions you will need to make to ensure that the advertisement portrays, and communicates with, the diverse Australian community.

If you have access to the right equipment it would be fun to film, and watch, the advertisements created by the different groups in your class.

How many languages do Australians speak?

Where do Aussies come from? Guess what the top ten countries of origin are.

Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.

Australia’s diversity

Australians come from all over the world. Indigenous Australians have been here for tens of thousands of years. In the last two centuries people have come from every continent to make Australia their home.

Today there are more than 22 million people living in Australia who all contribute different ideas, religions, languages and customs to our country. The diversity of people who live in Australia makes it an interesting place to live.

Aussie Facts

Here are some facts about Australians today:

  • nearly half (49 per cent) of Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent who was
  • we identify with over 300 ancestries
  • since 1945, more than 7.5 million people have migrated to Australia
  • 85 per cent of Australians agree multiculturalism has been good for Australia
  • apart from English, the most common languages spoken in Australia are Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek, Tagalog/Filipino, Hindi, Spanish and Punjabi
  • more than 70 Indigenous languages are spoken in Australia

These facts are taken from ABS 2016 Census Data. Check out the Australian Bureau of Statistics website.