The success of a trial teaching pre-schoolers another language has set the standard for the Turnbull Government’s moves to inspire young Australians’ interest in science and technology.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said initial feedback from parents, children and educators on the play-based languages learning apps in the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) trial had been overwhelmingly positive. 

Minister Birmingham said more than 1700 Australian pre-schoolers had learnt Japanese, Indonesian, French, Mandarin Chinese and Arabic as part of the trial of the “Polyglots” apps and with Australia more ‘tapped in’ than ever with the international community, these language skills are vital life-skills. 

“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 the trial showed Australian children – and parents alike – took to the Polyglots with such enthusiasm,” Minister Birmingham said.

“When you see pre-schoolers using a language that isn’t their native tongue to bake cakes, to count and even to sing songs, it’s easy to understand why the feedback has been so positive from pre-schools, children, educators and parents.

“There is currently an evaluation process occurring and I will wait for that to conclude before making a final decision but pending a positive recommendation from this review I have every intention of rolling out the Early Learning Languages Australia app across the country in 2017.

“Labor love to rush into these national programmes with no thought or consideration, no pilot, evaluation or strategy. The Turnbull Government is committed to doing this thoroughly and properly for Australian pre-schoolers and to ensure that we don’t end up with a Labor school-hall debacle or VET Fee help rort opportunities on our hands.”

Minister Birmingham said two-thirds of the 41 pre-schools who participated in the trial last year had already committed to using the app again this year and that the almost 1,000 schools that applied to be part of the trial but were unsuccessful would now have the opportunity to apply in 2016.

“Those pre-schools that initially expressed an interest, but were not included in the trial, will have the chance to be considered for participation in 2016. They just need to have tablet devices and the government will provide the rest.

“I am committed to ensuring that the Turnbull Government delivers Australian families the learning opportunities they want, in a form that works for them and their children and at a time, as early as possible in life, to establish a life-long interest.

Minister Birmingham said based on the success of the ELLA trial and as part of the Innovation and Science Agenda the Turnbull Government would commit $6 million to the development of a similar STEM-focused app.

“We hope the Early Learning STEM Australia app inspires the same curiosity and enthusiasm that the ELLA app has.   

“Knowing that around 75 per cent of the fastest-growing industries require STEM-related skills, we want to work with Australia’s youngest minds to ensure they develop an interest in those fields.

“The skills and opportunities those children participating in these programmes receive are a perfect example of the Innovation Agenda that is at the heart of the Turnbull Government’s vision for Australia’s future.”

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Minister Birmingham’s media contact:    
                  James Murphy 0478 333 974
                                                                                        Nick Creevey, 0447 644 957
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