Second-language learning for Victoria’s preschoolers
Jenny Mikakos, Victorian Minister for Early Childhood Education, and Member for Oakleigh, Steve Dimopoulous attended Oakleigh Grammar Early Learning Centre this morning to announce that the Early Childhood Language Program would be run in the centre, with the centre providing a fully bilingual Greek kindergarten program from 2019.
As part of the language program, 150 kindergartens in Victoria will offer weekly sessions in one of 15 languages, including Mandarin, Arabic, Punjabi, Italian, Japanese, French, Greek, Hebrew and Spanish.
A further 10 kindergartens have been selected to run a bilingual program, where 50 percent of the kindergarten program, such as lessons, songs, and routine times, will be delivered in a language other than English.
Approximately 5,000 children across 160 sites will have access to second-language learning through the program, with a third of the sites being located in regional Victoria. Of these, 29 kindergartens will offer Aboriginal languages, and 27 will offer Auslan.
The $17.9 million Early Childhood Language Program will provide additional staff to teach children a new language in partnership with existing staff – at no cost to parents or early childhood services.
There are multiple benefits for children in acquiring an additional language at a young age, such as increased reading and writing skills, cognitive flexibility, strengthened brain development, and improved problem solving skills.
“We know that learning another language has great rewards – it’s fun, it improves brain function and actually helps kids learn English better,” Ms Mikakos said.