Release type: Media Release


Preschool language trial sets tongues wagging

More than 1000 preschool services across the country have put their hand up for the chance to be part of the

Abbott Government’s Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) trial next year.

Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley announced today a total of 1118 preschool services had applied to be part of the $9.8 million pilot, which will introduce pre-schoolers to a second language through play-based apps in 40 preschool trials in 2015.

Ms Ley said the interest in ELLA had been “huge” and showed that early childhood services and educators saw the potential developmental and social benefits of increasing a child’s exposure to a second language at an early age.

“We’re essentially talking about one in every seven preschool services across the country applying to participate in this trial – what a fantastic response!” Ms Ley said.

“We announced this policy because we see the potential benefits introducing a second language to youngsters has for the future of our children, economy and, ultimately, our nation.

“The massive response from preschool services and the community to the trial clearly shows many others share this view.

“It’s certainly set tongues wagging and it’s been exciting to see the trial continue the growing revival of discussion about the importance of language studies for our children.

“While there’s a tough job ahead narrowing down the final trial sites from such a large group of high-calibre applicants, it also ensures we can deliver a truly representative and high-quality trial.”

Ms Ley said this was supported by fair selection criteria to ensure a diverse range of trials sites across the states and territories and metropolitan, regional and remote communities, as well as a combination of small and large preschool services spanning long day care, standalone preschools and school-based preschools.

Languages for the trial are Chinese (Mandarin), Japanese, Indonesian, Arabic and French. The proportion of Year 12 students studying a second language has dropped from about 40 per cent in the 1960s to about 12 per cent today.

Ms Ley said the ELLA software was currently in the development phase and the first series of apps would be ready to be rolled out in time for the trials beginning early next year.

“This is a fun and easy way to get our kids interested in learning skills for life, such as a second language, from early on in their education journey.”