V-R-A-N-T-S-I-S and Me

Lesson overview

Learning Area:English – Health and Physical Education (HPE) – The Arts
Age Group:Primary Upper (10-12 years) – Secondary Lower (13-14 years) – Secondary Middle (15-16 years)


Students discuss themes and issues of culture, identity and self-esteem and construct responses to them.


How often do we really think about who we are? Our identity is influenced by our name, our family and friends, the language we speak. It is also influenced by where we were born, where we grew up, and where we live now.

When migrants leave their homeland and go to a new country to live, one of the most difficult things they have to do is adapt their sense of self to their new environment. In unfamiliar surroundings, people may feel they no longer know who they are.

‘V-R-A-N-T-I-S’ by Ana Vrantsis and ‘Me’ by Temuçin Mustafa look at the importance of a person’s name for their self-esteem.

Worksheets to download


Adapted from Australian mosaic.


What does your name mean to you?
In small groups, discuss the following questions:

  • Do you like your name?
  • Is there a reason why you were given your name? (Does it mean something, are you named after somebody, was it a favourite name?)
  • Do you have a nickname? Do family and friends call you by a particular version of your name?
  • How do you feel if someone gets your name wrong?

One of the problems immigrants often experience is the misunderstanding or mispronunciation of their name. To avoid this, some take on a different name, or one that is similar to their own but sounds more ‘Australian’ (meaning that it sounds more English). While some people may not mind adopting a new name, others may find it upsetting and frustrating.

  • Have you ever adopted a different name or a different version of your name?
  • If so, how did you feel when you used the different name?
  • If not, how do you think you would feel if you had to use a different name?



What do you think is the message of these two poems?

Role play
  • Divide into small groups.
  • Conduct a short role play about a formal situation between two people where one person has to give his or her name and address to another person- opening a bank account; paying a bill; enrolling in a school.
  • Act out the situation as if the person who is noting the details cannot (or will not) understand. The name of the person who is giving the information is being misspelt, mispronounced or commented upon.
    Think about how people might be feeling, and act out their reactions.
  • Write an acrostic poem about another member of the class selecting words which relate to the character and identity of that person.
  • Make a class Names Book listing all names, meaning, adaptations, derivations, ethnic origins.
  • Create a class list of family names, their histories and naming systems.