Since 2014, the Australian Government has invested $27.5 million dollars in the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program, which is delivered by Education Services Australia.
The ELLA program has been developed in consultation with experts in languages, early childhood and technology and is aligned with the Early Years Learning Framework and the Australian Curriculum: Foundation. The program introduces young children to languages other than English in an early learning setting, using play-based apps, to encourage language learning in later years. The apps are designed for use in preschool classrooms, for delivery by trained early learning educators.
Research shows that learning languages develops children's overall literacy, strengthening literacy-related capabilities that are transferable across learning areas. A number of independent analyses have demonstrated the success of the ELLA apps in introducing young children to a language other than English.
Since ELLA was first trialled in 2015, the program has been expanding every year. In 2019, over 110,000 children in 3,500 preschool services across Australia are taking part in the ELLA program and are learning one of the eleven available languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Modern Greek, Spanish and Vietnamese.
Due to the continued growth and success of ELLA in the early learning sector, ELLA is now being extended in schools through a three-year trial with children in Foundation to Year 2. Over 300 schools across Australia are taking part in the trial. This is an exciting opportunity which will enable more students to access the benefits of language learning through digital technology, including where language teachers are not available.
This year the ELLA apps are being developed in Korean and Turkish, to fully align ELLA to the languages included in the Australian Curriculum, nationally endorsed by all Education Ministers in December 2015.
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