Community language schools

Community language schools (CLS) enable students to maintain their mother tongue or heritage language.

About community language schools (CLS)

A community language is defined as a language used on a daily basis by members of a cultural or linguistic group resident in Victoria to communicate with family members and within their own community.

Community language schools were previously known as after-hours ethnic schools. They provide languages education programs, that are complementary to those provided by mainstream schools and the Victorian School of Languages, to students from Prep to Year 12 (depending on the language) outside mainstream school hours; i.e. after school or on weekends.​

Community Language Schools Funding Program

The Department's Community Language Schools Funding Program provides annual funding to support accredited, not-for-profit, community-based organisations delivering language programs to Victorian school-aged students outside school hours.

Use of government school premises

School councils and mainstream school principals are encouraged to make school facilities available outside school hours at fair and reasonable rates to community language schools. It is acknowledged that schools making their premises available need to cover expenses such as heating, lighting, cleaning and security arrangements.

The School Council Licence - community language schools is available to assist Victorian mainstream schools to reach agreement about use of mainstream school facilities. In determining costs for the use of facilities by community language schools, school councils are urged to take into account the role of these schools in supporting the maintenance and development of a wide range of languages spoken in the Victorian community.​

For more information, see:

Teaching resources

The Languages and Multicultural Education Resource Centre

This specialist library and support centre provides resources and advice for teachers in the areas of languages, EAL, human rights and multicultural education. Teachers in all Victorian schools, including community language schools, may borrow (at no cost) reference materials and journals, posters, culturally inclusive resources, multimedia resources and materials in over 40 languages.

Languages Online

This free multimedia website contains downloadable game ‘templates’ for students and teachers to create interactive games, in any language, using their own text, pictures and voice recordings. The site also contains over 800 ready-made interactive tasks and worksheets for students learning Chinese, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Macedonian, Turkish or Spanish.

For more information, see: Languages Online​

Community Languages Australia

This national peak body represents more than 200 community language schools and state-based associations, including the Ethnic Schools’ Association of Victoria, and provides support, information, advice and professional learning programs.

Training and development

The Ethnic Schools’ Association of Victoria, in partnership with the Department, provides a number of professional development activities for administrators and community language school teachers throughout the year.

For program details or to register for an activity, see: ESAV - Professional Development

Credit-bearing courses for teachers

These courses are organised by the Ethnic Schools’ Association of Victoria with funding from the Department. Courses are free for eligible teachers.

Language Teaching Methodology

Community language school teachers who do not have language teaching qualifications recognised in Victoria may apply for 30-hour credit-bearing tertiary courses in language teaching methodology conducted by a range of Victorian universities.

Certificate IV in Community Languages Teaching

This course provides a recognised vocational education qualification, further job and/or educational pathways and an opportunity to network with other teachers working in the sector.​

For more information, see: Ethnic Schools’ Association of Victoria (ESAV)

To register, see: ESAV - Teacher Training Courses​

School accreditation/reaccreditation procedures

The Department has a robust community language schools accreditation process that ensures funded schools have the capacity to provide students with high-quality languages programs that comply with the Department’s requirements and expectations.

Accreditation is usually granted for up to three years. All accredited community language schools must re-apply for accreditation prior to expiry of their current accreditation, usually during their third year of accreditation, to be eligible to apply for the next round of student per capita funding.

Funding support is only available to community language schools that hold current accreditation for funding purposes from the Department. It is the responsibility of each community language school to ensure that their school’s accreditation is current in the year they are applying for funding.

For further information or queries, contact:


DET Community Language Schools Funding Program - Per capita grants

The Department's Community Language Schools Funding Program provides per capita grants to accredited community language schools for each eligible student enrolled at  and attending the school at the end of Term 1 of that year.

At the beginning of each school year, the Department sends accredited community language schools information about the funding program application process and timeline for the per capita grants.

In 2017 the per capita grant for each eligible student enrolled in and attending an accredited community language school is $215. Payments are made to community language schools by July.

Other grants

Victorian Multicultural Commission runs a community grants program to support Victoria's culturally and linguistically diverse communities, especially new and emerging communities. The program aims to develop and sustain local community organisations and programs.

Educational Program Grants are available to support out-of-hours ethnic schools within Victoria.

For information about current grants rounds and eligibility criteria, see: Community Language Schools Program Grants

Finding a school

For a list of accredited community language schools in Victoria, see:

Guidelines for Parent/Guardian complaints

The following guidelines will support parents/guardians who wish to make a formal complaint in relation to their child’s attendance at an accredited community language school, see:

More information

For more information email: