Program proves popular

By Benalla Ensign

More than 80000 children at almost 2500 preschools across the country will be given the opportunity to learn a second language this year.

Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham said the Early Learning Languages Australia program’s popularity kept growing — with an extra 20000 children across the country set to participate this year.

‘‘The response we’ve had has been huge,’’ Mr Birmingham said.

‘‘The enthusiastic feedback we’ve been getting from educators and parents means this year we’ll have record numbers of children learning a second language in our preschools.’’

An independent evaluation of ELLA by the Swinburne University of Technology found it had a positive impact on children’s engagement in learning about other languages and cultures.

The program, backed by $15.7 million in funding from the Federal Government, now includes nine languages with the introduction of Hindi and Modern Greek this year.

In addition to Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Indonesian, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish.