Over 80,000 children at almost 2500 preschools across the country will be given the opportunity to learn a second language this year, thanks to the Federal Government’s Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program.
Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said the ELLA program’s popularity kept growing, with an extra 20,000 children around the country set to participate in the program in 2018.
“The response we’ve had has been huge,” Mr Birmingham said.
“When you see firsthand how quickly children embrace the program it’s clear how valuable it can be for preschools wanting to introduce languages or even supplement the teaching they’ve already got in place.
“This will be the start of a life-long interest in foreign languages for thousands of children around Australia. The benefits of language learning have also been linked to better English and problem-solving skills.
“Exposure to another language and culture can have significant benefits on children from a young age – it expands their horizons and opens up exciting opportunities around the world when they reach the workforce.”
An independent evaluation of ELLA by the Swinburne University of Technology found it had a positive impact on children’s engagement in learning about other languages and cultures.
The program which is backed by $15.7 million in funding from the Federal Government, now includes nine languages, with the introduction of Hindi and Modern Greek this year, in addition to Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Indonesian, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish.
ELLA began as a small trial of 41 preschools in 2015 and is a digital, play-based program where preschool children use a series of interactive applications (apps).
It is designed for use by educators who do not have formal language training and extensive support, training and resources is provided to assist educators in the effective delivery of early language learning and cultural awareness.
The Federal Government has also provided 1,000 support grants of $500 since 2017 to contribute towards the purchase of tablet devices to support participation by preschools in disadvantaged areas.