Early Learning Languages Australia


The Australian Government is working on a series of measures to revive the teaching of foreign languages in Australian schools, with the aim of significantly increasing the number of Year 12 students studying a language other than English within a decade. A key part of the Australian Government’s commitment to reviving language study, is the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) Programme.

The Australian Government provided $9.8 million to trial ELLA in 41 preschool services in 2015 to determine the effectiveness of children learning a language through applications (apps) without a proficient language teacher. A total of 35 apps, consisting of seven unique apps for each of the five languages, Arabic, Chinese, Indonesian, French and Japanese, were developed.

More than 1,000 services that unsuccessfully lodged an expression of interest to participate in the 2015 trial were invited to participate in 2016 on a “bring your own device” (BYOD) basis. This has resulted in more than 300 preschool services being offered the opportunity to participate in ELLA in 2016.

The expansion of the programme is a result of key findings from the Evaluation of the ELLA trial final report, undertaken by Deloitte Access Economics, which includes very positive feedback from parents, children and educators on the ELLA apps.

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. Further information will be provided on this website as it is released.

What is Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA)?

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 programme will enable children to become more comfortable with different languages early in life so that they stay engaged during their later years.

ELLA is a child-centred programme specifically aimed at children in the year before school. It includes a suite of materials, including apps, resource material and educator support networks, developed through the ELLA trial to support the effective delivery of early language learning in preschool services.

The Polyglots are the ELLA play-based applications (‘the apps’), 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 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 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. A copy of the EYLF can be found on the Department of Education and Training website.

Where can I find more information?

Information about the eligibility and programme requirements for ELLA are in the Participation Guidelines. Applications are now closed for the 2016 programme.

Further information about national availability of the ELLA programme from 2017 will provided on this website as it is released.

General assistance can be provided by contacting the ELLA team via email.