Studying Racial Identity Through Multimedia Texts

Fatty Legs

‘Fatty legs’ by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
illustrated by Liz Amini-Holmes

In this English as an Additional Language lesson unit, students study the short story Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton and the song They Took the Children Away by Archie Roach to write a comparative report that identifies and analyses aspects of language used to reflect the sociocultural aspects of racial identity.

Both the story and the song are moving memoirs that reveal a personal and emotional response to the traumatic treatment of Indigenous peoples by institutional authorities. Fatty Legs is set in the high Artic about an Inuit girl who faces the cruelty of a residential school  and Archie Roache’s song retells the Australian experience of the Stolen Generation in which children were forcibly removed from their families.


Aspects of language include:

  • analysis of personal, social and cultural perspectives in texts
  • analysis of the ways texts are created for specific audiences and purposes

Lesson Unit: Essential Question

How can creative texts deepen readers’ perceptive understanding of racial identity and thereby nurture tolerance and empathy? 

Students read Fatty Legs as a class and write 3 blogs responding to class discussions.

Students analyse personal, social, and cultural perspectives.They understand and analyse how language features are used to communicate for different purposes.

For example, they:

  • understand and analyse language features such as expressions of emotion, the judgement of qualities and the judgement of human behaviour- interpersonal language
  • use metalanguage to understand and discuss texts
  • describe how different purposes and contexts influence text structures and language features to make meaning
  • discuss, describe, and explain the effects of stylistic features in texts and how these can influence meaning
  • consider different perspectives
  • describe and analyse connections between texts, including similarities and differences
  • explain the visual features of texts and interpret graphic representations of data.



Fatty Legs Webinar 

Figures of speech and imagery

Teaching language in Context by Beverly Derewianka & Pauline Jones 

The Stolen generation- Facts on Racism No Way

Teaching Rabbit Proof Fence and the Stolen Generation by Ann Michaelsen

English Association of NSW Identity & Cultural Identity

Teach With Pictures Books: Fatty Legs A true Story


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