With second languages, it’s better to start kids earlier, rather than later. Which is why it’s so great that littlies will soon have the opportunity to learn Hindi at preschool, thanks to the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program. Modern Greek is also a new addition to the group of languages on offer, joining Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
The federal government’s program is currently available to 80,000 children at almost 2500 preschools across Australia.
It’s a digital, play-based program, where kids use interactive apps to grow their fluency in languages other than English.
Amanda MacDonald from Education Services Australia says that ELLA has so many positives for early learning.
“We know that there are lots of benefits for children for learning additional languages, for being multilingual; enhanced memory, problem solving, it improves learning dispositions such as persistence and attempting the unfamiliar. It’s also really great for social inclusiveness, tolerance and respect for diversity,” she says.
All the apps have the voices of Australian children, who are native speakers of the language and the pronunciation has been checked by language experts.
The program is not just the app though. It’s personally delivered by a trained early childhood teacher, who determines how to extend the learning into other learning areas.
Listen to Amanda on Kinderling Conversation:
So how can you get this happening in your early learning centre if it’s not there already? Preschools in low socioeconomic status suburbs can apply for $500 of support from the Australian Government to obtain the devices necessary to use the apps. Other centres can fundraise for tablet devices, of which Amanda says you only need one to five. The apps are collaborative, so no child will be using them solo.
Plus, anyone can download the ELLA family app for at home use.
“You’re never too young to start to learn, that’s why it’s great for teachers to start learning additional languages too!” Amanda says.
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