Northern Midlands children take advantage of language program

EARLY LEARNING: Indonesian is a part of the curriculum for the kindergarten pupils at Evandale Primary School.
EARLY LEARNING: Indonesian is a part of the curriculum for the kindergarten pupils at Evandale Primary School.

Children as young as four years old are learning Indonesian and Mandarin in Northern Midlands primary schools. 

The kindergarten classes for Evandale Primary School and Longford Primary School are involved in the federal government’s Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program.

Participating preschools implement language classes through interactive iPad applications.

Evandale Primary’s preschool class spends up to two hours a week learning the basics of Indonesian, while Longford Primary’s preschool learns Mandarin. 

“I think it’s successful, because it’s very engaging to the children,” Evandale Primary kindergarten teacher Alana Binns said. 

“You don’t find any kids [in the class] who aren’t interested and the characters that deliver the program are very engaging.

“I think it’s been great for our school, because it gives an awareness of different culture and language.”

The kindergarten class at Evandale Primary, consisting of 15 pupils, has access to 5 iPads to use the language software. 

Mrs Binns said four-year-olds have the capacity to learn languages faster than adults or older pupils.

“Kids are more attuned to picking up how languages differ in terms of the sounds you can hear,” she said.

“They can pick it up so easily.”

The $15.7 million ELLA program has been rolled out to 80,000 children across Australia over 2500 preschools, beginning in 2015. 

Evandale Primary joined up to ELLA in 2016. 

The play-based program was found to have a positive impact on learning engagement for young children, according to an independent study by the Swinburne University of Technology.

Evandale Primary principal Jennifer Gadsby said it also helped pupils in their English studies. 

“Languages in early learning are fantastic for students to develop their own language skills in English and helps consolidate the understanding of how English is structured,” she said.

“It encourages oral language learning, which really supports the student’s reading and supports learning vocab.”