Preschool foreign language app a hit

Preschoolers across the country could soon have learning a new language at their fingertips.

The federal government is expanding a trial of a new play-based app which has so far allowed more than 1700 children to learn Japanese, Indonesian, French, Mandarin and Arabic.

The app, part of the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) trial, is now going to be extended to another 1,000 preschools at a cost of $6 million, as part of a second trial.

Seven apps have been developed for each of the five languages.

The first app released was “The Polyglots: Playroom”, which involves kids playing with characters, the polyglots, who play games and sing songs that engage the children through play.

During the trial the most popular language among users was Indonesian, a language which Education Minister Simon Birmingham commented has seen a marked decline in popularity amongst Australian students over recent years.

The Minister said it’s concerning that fewer students are studying another language than they did decades ago.

The proportion of year 12 students studying a language has dropped from 40 per cent in the 1960s to 12 per cent today.

“When you see preschoolers using a language that isn’t their native tongue to bake cakes, to count and even to sing songs, it’s easy to understand why the feedback has been so positive from preschools, children, educators and parents,” Senator Birmingham said.

The minister is reserving a final decision on a wider rollout of the app in 2017 until an evaluation process concludes. There are also plans for the program to be extended into maths and science.

Story via The Project
Photo © Early Learning Languages Australia

Dale Bothe editor

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