Department program

Early childhood language program

Giving preschool children the opportunity to learn in another language.

Thanks to a $17.9 million investment from the Victorian Government, from term 1 2019, funding will be available to allow around 5,000 preschool children across Victoria the chance to learn a language in addition to English.

The funding will allow services to deliver language programs at no additional cost to services or parents.

The Getting started guide will support teachers and educators to implement the Early Childhood Language program in their service.

The Auslan guide gives teachers and educators in services delivering the Early Childhood Language Program information specific to Auslan, including useful resources and links.

Getting started guide

About the program

Early childhood services will take part in one of the following language programs:

  1. Learn languages at kindergarten:
    • children will learn in another language for up to three hours per week
    • this will be offered to around 150 kindergarten services.
  2. Bilingual kindergartens:
    • children will learn in another language for up to seven and a half hours per week
    • 10 kindergarten services will receive funding to transition to this model.

Following an expression of interest process, services have now accepted their place in the program.

Languages in kindergartens

Languages on offer include:

  • Aboriginal languages (more than five)
  • Arabic
  • Auslan
  • Chinese/Mandarin
  • Chin Hakha
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Karen
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese.

The choice of which language to teach has been guided by communities, kindergartens’ interests and the availability of qualified staff. 

They take into account:

  • community diversity
  • languages spoken by children who are newly arrived or have refugee backgrounds
  • continuity with language education at nearby primary schools.

More important than the choice of language is the long-term advantages of improved literacy and communication.

Languages will be incorporated into everyday learning activities to give children the opportunity to use the language themselves. They will be encouraged to engage in language learning through play, art, music and stories, increasing their vocabulary along the way. 

Qualified staff will deliver the program in partnership with existing kindergarten staff. 

Participating services

The below map shows the location of services participating in the language program and the language being offered.

View participating services in Excel and search by language (xlsx - 28.02kb).

A further 30 services have been selected to deliver an Aboriginal language program. We are currently working closely with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated and the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages to ensure protocols are followed in consulting with community and seeking Traditional Owner permissions and endorsement for the language program.

Benefits of learning a language in the early years

Learning in languages other than English helps children to improve their overall literacy and understanding of how language in general works.

Education experts have found that there are many benefits to children learning in another language at a young age, including:

  • increased literacy
  • cognitive flexibility
  • bolstering self-esteem and wellbeing
  • strengthened cultural identity.

Watch this video interviewing early childhood and language experts to find out more:

Promotional materials

Parent information sheet
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