Children learning another language through the ELLA program.
Children learning another language through the ELLA program. Contributed

Preschoolers to learn Espanol and Francais amongst others

GREETINGS like 'buenos dias' and 'salamat pagi' may become familiar in preschools this year.

Thanks to an early learning languages program to be rolled out, tens of thousands of Australian preschoolers will be learning other languages.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said he expected more than 30,000 children would learn Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese or Spanish as part of the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program in 2017.

Minister Birmingham said it was the first time the program had been open across the country and the response so far had been "incredible" but preschools and child care centres were running out of time to sign up to take part.

Play-based program

"Learning a foreign language doesn't just give children the gift of the gab, it can boost other vital skills like problem solving and their literacy in English that ultimately carry through to their performance at school," Minister Birmingham said.

"ELLA is a play-based way for children to learn another language and open their mind and following the program's successful trials last year we've committed an additional $5.9 million to roll it out to any eligible preschool or child care centre that wants to take part.

"Through our initial $9.8 million commitment to develop and trial the program in 2014 and 2015, we've seen how the ELLA languages program can have positive impact on our children and so parents and families should get in touch with their preschool or child care service and ask them to sign up. We have a range of tools in place to help services roll out the ELLA program but they need to register by February 26 2017.

"The ELLA program has been a big hit with parents, educators and of course the children themselves and thanks to our additional funding of $5.9 million this will be the first year that anyone can take part."

Minister Birmingham said a breakdown of students of the 852 preschools and child care centres that had signed up so far:

  • 25% Chinese,
  • 18% Japanese,
  • 13% French,
  • 9% Indonesian
  • 3% Arabic
  • 15% Italian
  • 17% Spanish

For more information visit https://www.education.gov.au/early-learning-languages-australia



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