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Early childhood language program

The Victorian Government has invested $53.8 million to help preschool children learn in a language other than English. The program will run in kindergartens from 2019 to 2027.

About the Early Childhood Language Program

Each year, the language program reaches around 7,000 children and employs around 200 teachers. This program is free for parents. The language program delivers Four-Year-Old Kindergarten programs in a language other than English. All participating funded services can access the Early Childhood Language Program. 

Funded kindergartens take part in one of the following streams:

  1. Learn Languages at Kindergarten
    • around 176 kindergartens teach children in another language for three hours per week.
  2. Bilingual Kindergartens
    • 21 kindergartens teach children in another language for 12 hours per week.
  3. In-Ratio Trial
    • tests a new model for the Learn Languages at Kindergarten stream on a small number of kindergartens.
    • uses an existing educator or teacher who speaks a language other than English.
    • teaches children 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 improve their pre-literacy skills. It also helps them understand how language works.

Education experts have found that there are many benefits to children learning in another language, such as:

  • 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

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 program funding to employ a qualified language teacher. This teacher then delivers the service's language program. These programs are in partnership with the other staff at the service.

The teachers then work together to incorporate language learning into everyday learning experiences. This gives 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 and language of early childhood services participating in the language program.

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 helps services deliver the Early Childhood Language Program.

How to implement the Auslan language program

The 'Auslan guide' gives teachers and educators useful Auslan resources and links.