Every Australian pre-schooler will have the opportunity to learn a foreign language as the Turnbull Government announced that applications for the popular Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program were open to all Australian preschools.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said in addition to the national roll out of the current five languages, the Turnbull Government would extend the program to offer Australian pre-schoolers the opportunity to learn Italian and Spanish in 2017 and Hindi and Modern Greek in 2018.

Minister Birmingham said almost 10,000 children had been part of the $9.8 million program so far, with almost two in three students studying either Chinese or Japanese. The Turnbull Government has committed an additional $5.9 million for the national roll out. 

“We know life-long learning begins from the youngest years and our $15.7 million investment in the languages app highlights the Turnbull Government’s commitment to reviving the study of languages throughout Australia’s early education centres, schools and universities,” Minister Birmingham said.

“The ELLA program has been extremely popular with children, parents and educators and it’s exciting to see it not only expanded to a national rollout but to also include an additional four languages.

“We live in a globalised world and initiatives like the languages app are vital to supporting our children to take full advantage of the new opportunities our economic transition presents. It is particularly encouraging to see in what many describe as the ‘Asian Century’ that almost two in three students are studying the vital languages Chinese and Japanese.”

Minister Birmingham said 32 per cent of the 8,540 current students were studying Chinese, 29 per cent Japanese, 24 per cent French, 13 per cent Indonesian and 2 per cent Arabic.
“Seeing and hearing young children counting, following recipes and singing in a language that isn’t their native tongue, you understand how engaging this app is and why it has had such positive feedback from kids, educators and families,” Minister Birmingham said.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to backing evidence-based programs, to backing programs that inspire students, that involve families in learning and that are useful for educators – ELLA ticks all of the boxes.

“As the Asia Education Foundation’s Senior Secondary Languages report has shown, the proportion of year 12 students studying another language has dropped from 40 per cent in the 1960s to just 12 per cent today, which is why it’s encouraging that Australian children – and parents alike – have taken to the Polyglots apps with such enthusiasm.”

A Deloitte evaluation of the ELLA program and Polyglots apps found that 78 per cent of parents had seen their child using words from the language outside of preschool, meaning parental engagement with their children’s learning and the popular apps are combining to increase the number of Australians studying a language. Around 49 per cent of parents also said their children were showing interest in the culture of the language they were learning through ELLA apps at home. 
The independent evaluation found the app had helped 70 per cent of educators in the pilot program feel more confident incorporating languages into their lessons.
Minister Birmingham announced that applications were now open for all Australian child care centres and pre-schools and could be found at www.ella.edu.au

For more information about the ELLA programme and the Polyglots apps, visit: https://www.education.gov.au/early-learning-languages-australia