What is a POLYGLOT?
The Polyglots is a series of apps available through Itunes to help children begin to learn languages. The Polyglots is part of a program funded by the Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training, and is managed by Education Services Australia. Our Education Minister Simon Birmingham has said to the ABC News, “If there's a sign that we can inspire interest at a younger level, then that's something to really work upon”.
The Polyglots apps have been custom developed for language learning on mobile tablet devices. The apps provide children the opportunity to develop recognition of the different sounds and concepts of another language through play-based learning. Children are introduced to words, sentences and songs in the language and through age appropriate experiences and practices in the language. The language activities in each of the apps are aligned to the learning outcomes in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF), a key component of the Australian Government’s National Quality Framework for early childhood education and care.
Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA)
There has been a significant drop since the 1960’s in the number of Year 12 students choosing to study a second language, so since 2014, the Australian government has been putting money towards a program called Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) in a hope to increase language learning in Australia. The aim of the ELLA program is for children to recognise the different sounds and concepts of a language other than English through the introduction of words, sentences and songs in age-appropriate scenarios and practices. A total of 35 applications were developed for the ELLA trial, consisting of seven unique applications for each of the five offered languages. These languages include Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Indonesian and French. Our Education Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia has seen a marked decline in the study of Indonesian over recent years. But so far, the most popular language when using the app has been Indonesian.
What's in the Apps?
The apps have been designed to consider the needs, interests and capabilities of four-year-olds to five-year olds. The apps provide opportunities for children to learn through interaction with a rich variety of experiences. The apps encourage collaboration, between peers and with educators as co-learners. The ELLA program includes a suite of materials, including apps for educators and families, resource material and educator support networks, developed through the ELLA trial to support the effective delivery of early language learning in preschool services.
Is learning a second language really that amazing?
Research shows that learning languages develops children’s overall literacy, strengthening literacy-related capabilities that are transferable across learning areas. It also provides children with a head start towards language study at school. This program will enable children to become more comfortable with different languages early in life so that they stay engaged during their later years.
Show me the money...
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the trial has been operating across 41 different preschools. The Government has announced that $5.9 million will be provided over two years from 2016-17 to make the ELLA programme nationally available to all preschools from 2017. From 2017, the programme will be delivered on an opt-in “bring your own device” basis, and will include a grant component to assist up to 1,000 preschools from low socio-economic areas throughout Australia purchase devices ($500 per service) so they can participate in the programme. Updates will be posted on this website https://www.education.gov.au/early-learning-languages-australia, so keep an eye out if you're interested.
Count me in!!!
The Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program is returning in 2017! If your service would like to take part next year, applications will be opening soon. More information will be available here https://www.ella.edu.au/, shortly, about how to apply. In the meantime, you can register your interest by emailing Education Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.