Early childhood language program

The Victorian Government has invested $53.8 million to help preschool children learn in a language other than English at kindergarten from 2019 to 2027.

About the Early Childhood Language Program

The Early Childhood Language Program allows participating funded kindergartens to employ a suitably qualified language teacher to deliver part of their Four-Year-Old Kindergarten program in a language other than English at no additional cost to parents. This program reaches around 7,000 preschool children each year and employs around 200 language teachers.

Funded kindergartens take part in one of the following streams:

  1. Learn Languages at Kindergarten
    • children learn in another language for three hours per week
    • this is delivered in around 176 funded kindergartens.
  2. Bilingual Kindergartens
    • children learn in another language for 12 hours per week
    • this is delivered in 21 kindergartens.
  3. In-Ratio Trial
    • involves a small number of kindergartens testing a new model for the Learn Languages at Kindergarten stream
    • uses an existing educator or teacher who speaks a language other than English, rather than bringing an additional teacher into the kindergarten program to teach in language
    • children learn in another language for 3 hours per week.

To learn more about the Early Childhood Language Program, watch:

Benefits of learning a language in the early years

Learning languages other than English helps children to improve their overall pre-literacy skills 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

  • increasing pre-reading and pre-writing skills
  • helping children to think, explore and problem solve
  • bolstering self-esteem and wellbeing
  • strengthening cultural identity
  • fostering deeper connections with different cultures and languages.

Video story

Watch our Interview with early childhood and language experts video on Vimeo.

Languages taught in kindergartens

Languages currently being delivered include:

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

Kindergartens determine the language they want to deliver. When deciding on what language to deliver, kindergartens consider:

  • the languages spoken by their enrolled children
  • the interest of their children, staff and families
  • the diversity of their community
  • the language taught at their local or nearby primary school(s)
  • the availability of a language teacher to deliver the selected language.

Kindergartens use their funding to employ a qualified language teacher to deliver their language program in partnership with the other staff at the early childhood service.

The kindergarten teacher and the language teacher work together to ensure language learning is 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.

Participating early childhood services

This map shows the location of early childhood services participating in the language program and the language being offered.

Participating in services and search by language (XLSX, 36KB)

We work closely with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated to ensure protocols are followed in seeking Traditional Owner permissions to deliver Aboriginal language programs in kindergartens.

How to implement a language program

The Support and Implementation Guide supports approved providers, service directors, kindergarten teachers and language teachers deliver the Early Childhood Language Program in their funded kindergarten.

How to implement the Auslan language program

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