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Early childhood language program

Over five years, $26.2 million will be dedicated to helping preschool children learn another language.

About the Early Childhood Language program

The Victorian Government is investing $26.2 million to provide around 8,000 preschool children each year learning another language between 2019 and 2023.

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 another language at no additional cost to parents.

Funded kindergartens take part in one of the following language programs:

  1. Learn languages at kindergarten:
    • children learn in another language for three hours per week
    • this is delivered in around 200 funded kindergartens.
  2. Bilingual kindergartens:
    • children learn in another language for 12 hours per week
    • this is delivered in 10 funded kindergartens.
  3. In-ratio kindergartens
    • being trialled in 2022, this involves funded kindergartens using an existing educator or teacher to take on the role of the language teacher.
    • This is delivered in 10 funded kindergartens.

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 literacy 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

  • increased literacy
  • cognitive flexibility
  • bolstering self-esteem and wellbeing
  • strengthened cultural identity.

Video story

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

Languages taught in kindergartens

Languages currently being delivered include:

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

The choice of which language to teach has been guided by communities, early childhood service interests and the availability of qualified language teachers.

They take into account:

  • community diversity
  • languages are spoken by children who are newly arrived or have refugee backgrounds
  • continuity with language education at nearby primary schools.

More important than the choice of language is the long-term advantages of improved literacy and communication.

Languages are 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.

Qualified language teachers deliver the language program in partnership with the other staff at the early childhood services.

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)External Link

We are currently working closely with the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated and the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages to ensure protocols are followed in consulting with the community and seeking Traditional Owner permissions and endorsement for Aboriginal language programs.

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.

Translated parent information

Reviewed 01 August 2022


Contact us

Department of Education and Training

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