Storyhouse Languages returns to celebrate Chester’s international community

Storyhouse is celebrating Chester’s diverse international community with the return of its popular Storyhouse Languages festival next month. 

The weekend festival, which takes place on 29-30 January, curated by Storyhouse and the boroughs communities will include storytelling, workshops and performances. 

Chester’s multicultural community will be represented by events in seven different languages including Italian, Portuguese, Hungarian and Chinese. 

The annual festival – taking place across the building including The Den, Kitchen and Garret Theatre – allows Chester’s international community to share their experiences of living in the city, and their own unique cultures. 

It was first held in 2018, but the pandemic lockdown meant the event was not able to go ahead earlier this year. 

The 2022 festival opens on Saturday, 29 January with Hungarian Storytime in The Den where members of the city’s Hungarian community will be sharing their favourite children’s stories. 

The Den, along with The Kitchen, will also be the location for a traditional Hungarian Music and Dance performance – an unmissable event which is likely to include some audience participation. 

Meanwhile Cheshire, Halton and Warrington Racial Equality Centre (CHAWREC) have designed How to be a Better Communicator, a workshop-style event which is being staged in the Garret Theatre. 

Do you meet people from non-English speaking countries in your day-to-day life, perhaps at the school gate, in your neighbourhood or at work? Would you like to be a better communicator? The interactive session will offer tips on how to use the English language to listen and communicate more effectively with people who are learning English. 

Ever wanted to speak a different language but lacked the confidence to give it a go? Find out how to be a confident linguist in a special Get the Courage to Speak Italian (or any foreign language) teatime workshop in The Garret. 

The workshop is run by Ermy Pedata, founder of The Language Rose. 

The festival continues on Sunday, 30 January with events celebrating the Portuguese, German, Spanish and Chinese languages.  

Join Diana and Anna, who are members of Chester’s Brazilian community, as they host a Portuguese Storytime and Rhymetime in The Den on Sunday morning. You don’t need to speak Portuguese to enjoy the event. 

The Den is also the location for some coffee time Spanish Storytelling, with Sofia – a member of the Storyhouse library team, sharing some lovely Spanish tales. The event is suitable for children and families. 

Sofia will return in the afternoon, this time in the Meeting Room for Spanish Conversation where she will help people who have at least a smattering of Spanish to improve their interactions. 

Du Bertolai and Ton Silva are musicians from São Paulo who met in Chester and forged a friendship through their passion for melody. 

They will entertain lunchtime audiences in The Kitchen with styles including mpb, forró, samba and samba-rock. 

The afternoon sees a fascinating and informative session on Raising a Bilingual Child. Community member Chiara Lisowski will lead the interactive event in The Den which is perfect for anyone who is bringing up youngsters with more than one language or who is interested in learning some top tips. 

Back in The Den there is the chance to enjoy Deutsch Storytime with Storyhouse library team leader Maike who will read some of her favourite children’s books in her native German language. The fun and informal session is suitable for children aged five and up. 

Alternatively, why not have a go at speaking Chinese, French or Spanish with a language guide from Speak Like a Native? 

There will be two 30-minute taster workshops available on Sunday, 30 January – one for children/families and one for adults aged 16 and over. 

Or why not drop into the Language Café where you can meet new people and practice your language skills? 

Storyhouse community programme manager Nicola Haigh says: “Chester as a city is home to a lot of rich and diverse cultures, and the vibrant organisations and individuals which represent these cultures want to share them with the wider community. 

“The lockdown earlier this year meant we weren’t able to run Storyhouse Languages, so it’s brilliant that we’re able to stage the festival again in 2022. The programme is informative and entertaining and an ideal opportunity to engage with, and learn more about, some of the people who help make this a fantastic city to live in – while improving your own language skills.”

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