New England preschoolers to learn a language in 2017

11 Jan 2017

12 January 2017


The Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and Member for New England, Barnaby Joyce has called on local New England preschools and child care centres to sign up to the Coalition Government’s popular early learning languages program before applications close next month.


Tens of thousands of preschoolers across the country are set to try their hand at languages this year as part of the Coalition Government’s Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program which is open nationally for the first time.


Mr Joyce said children could learn Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese or Spanish as part of the program in 2017.


“We want to ensure children in the New England Electorate aren’t left behind the 30,000 young Australians we expect will take part in the ELLA program this year so I’d encourage our local preschools and child care centres to head to and sign up,” Mr Joyce said.


“We’ve seen how the ELLA languages program can have a 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.


“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.


“Even where young students may not continue into school with the language they learned in preschool, research indicates that they will enjoy real cognitive and developmental benefits from learning another language in their earliest years.                                                                                                                        


“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 the Coalition Government committed an additional $5.9 million to roll it out to any eligible preschool or child care centre that wants to take part.” 


Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said 25 per cent of the 852 preschools and child care centres that had signed up so far would study Chinese, 18 per cent Japanese, 13 per cent French, 9 per cent Indonesian and 3 per cent Arabic while the two new languages for 2017, Italian and Spanish, had attracted 15 per cent and 17 per cent of applications respectively.


“Walking into classrooms and hearing children enjoying singing or counting in another language and even following recipes, you get a grasp of how engaging and entertaining the ELLA program is and why an independent evaluation found 78 per cent of parents had seen their child using words from the language they learned through ELLA outside of preschool.


“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 ELLA program with such enthusiasm.”


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