Department program

Early childhood language program

Giving preschool children the opportunity to learn in another language.

Thanks to a $20.6 million investment from the Victorian Government, over 6000 preschool children each year have been learning in another language since Term 1 in 2019.

The funding provided allows early childhood services to deliver part of their kindergarten program in another language at no additional cost to parents.

Getting started guide

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

Auslan guide

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

About the program

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

  1. Learn languages at kindergarten:
    • children learn in another language for up to three hours per week
    • this has been offered to around 150 early childhood services.
  2. Bilingual kindergartens:
    • children learn in another language for half of their kindergarten program each week
    • this has been offered to 10 early childhood services.

Languages in kindergartens

Languages currently being delivered include:

  • Aboriginal languages (five different languages)
  • Arabic
  • Auslan
  • Chinese
  • Chin Hakha
  • French
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Karen
  • Punjabi
  • Spanish
  • Vietnamese

The choice of which language to teach has been guided by communities, early childhood service’s interests and the availability of qualified language teachers.

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 are incorporated into everyday learning experiences to give children meaningful opportunities to use the language themselves. Children learn in another language through play, art, music, singing, dancing and stories.

Qualified language teachers deliver the language program in partnership with the other staff at the early childhood services.

Participating services

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

participating services in Excel and search by language

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 Aboriginal language programs.

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:

Parent information sheet
Read this page in your language

Funding

Over five years, $20.6 million will be dedicated to helping preschool children learn in another language.

Contact

Contact ec.languages@education.vic.gov.au for more information.