Could the ELLA program be a key point of difference for your service?
As the early childhood education and care (ECEC) environment becomes more crowded, competition increases. Early childhood providers of all kinds are searching for a point of difference to help them secure and retain enrolments, as well as attracting and maintaining staff.
Families are increasingly looking to ECEC services to “go the extra mile” and provide tools and resources that will support their children to have the best possible start in life. Parents are also looking for programs and services that will switch their child on to a lifetime of being an interested and curious learner who is aware of, and embraces, diversity.
When it comes to ECEC services attracting high-quality staff, providers are becoming more aware of the importance of offering high-quality professional learning experiences to their staff, not only to ensure their professional knowledge is kept up to date, but also to ensure that educators too are curious and enjoying learning right alongside the children in their care.
Thankfully there are programs like the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program which can meet the needs of children, parents and providers, without incurring additional costs.
ELLA supports children and educators to learn
Earlier this year The Sector shared information about the ELLA program, which supports eligible services to unlock the world of language learning for children and boost professional development for educators, free of charge.
ELLA is an Australian Government initiative which uses fun and engaging activities to introduce languages and culture to children using a digital platform, and offers eligible preschool services the opportunity to introduce one of 13 languages; Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.
ELLA supports regional, rural and remote services
One of the challenges that rural and remote ECEC providers face is accessing quality professional development opportunities and programs, and maintaining connections to cultures outside of those dominant in the local community.
For Uranquinty Preschool, a small community-based service located outside Wagga Wagga in New South Wales with a team of four educators, including a teaching director, ELLA has been a way to continue with community friendships, and to broaden an understanding of Indonesian culture.
In 2017, when the service began their journey with ELLA, they were nominated as one of three finalists for the National Narragunnawali Reconciliation Award for their commitment to embedding the language and culture of the Wiradjuri people into their teaching practice and programs.
“With our commitment to the language and culture of the traditional owners of our land, we felt we could also commit to learning about other cultures and languages,” Director Louise Grigg said.
Louise and her team have noticed that the exploration of Wiradjuri and Indonesian ways often intertwined within programs, and that far more than just “living on the app”, ELLA experiences extend across the curriculum into cooking, games, stories and music.
ELLA supports educators
As well as supporting the children to learn a new language and connect with a different culture, ELLA has a suite of professional development supports which, when combined, offer a dynamic community of practice.
Participating ELLA sites get educator support from a dedicated liaison officer, and a helpdesk, and are backed up by a discussion group, a newsletter filled with hints, tips and practical suggestions, and group learning sessions, which can cater for individual teams onsite, or which can offer an opportunity to gather with other ELLA services to share group learning.
ELLA’s private educator portal houses support materials, such as a program guide, app overviews, language and cultural background information, and an ELLA brochure which can be shared with parents and guardians.
In the portal educators will also find printable resources to enhance their program, such as posters, templates, props and games – all offered free of charge.
If your service would like to explore the benefits of the ELLA program for educators and families in your service, please visit the website, here, for more information.