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What is ELLA?

'It has been one of the best learning experiences of my 25-year teaching career. I am in awe daily of how quickly the children learn and have loved this learning.'
— Educator at trial preschool, 2015

ELLA is a fun, digital, play-based language learning program for children in preschool. It helps children to become more comfortable with different languages early in life so that they can stay engaged with learning languages in later years.

Children in the ELLA program learn language through applications ('apps'), called The Polyglots. The apps are used on tablet devices and have been specifically designed for preschool children. They are currently available in seven languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese or Spanish. Two further languages will be available in 2018: Hindi and Modern Greek.

ELLA is delivered through apps for tablet devices, and your preschool will need to 'bring its own' devices. Support of $500 per preschool is available to assist the first 1000 eligible preschools from disadvantaged areas in Australia to purchase devices so they can participate in the program.

ELLA is part of the Australian Government's commitment to supporting language study in Australia.

Two children using play-based language learning apps

What are the benefits of ELLA?

Introduce a new language at your preschool. You'll be amazed at what unfolds!

ELLA has many benefits for preschool children. Children:

  • are introduced to words, sentences and songs in a language other than English
  • have opportunities to recognise sounds and concepts of the language
  • gain language experience and practice appropriate for their age
  • gain ICT skills through using the tablet devices.
'Learning the language together is great for teacher/child relationships – it's wonderful for the children to see the adults learning and fosters true collaboration. It empowers the children. We both respect each other's knowledge.'
— Educator at trial preschool, 2015

Educators have reported benefits for them too, including:

  • increased confidence in incorporating language learning and digital technology into their programs
  • opportunities to learn language alongside the children in a collaborative way
  • entry points for family and community members to share their cultures at the preschool.

Families have reported children using the language at home, and out and about:

'We travelled overseas and my child was doing cannon-balls into the swimming pool counting in Japanese to 10 before jumping in the pool. The Japanese tourists were highly excited that he could do that at 4 years of age.'
'I took him to a Lebanese restaurant, and he ordered his drink in Arabic (like the character does in the app, I think), and he used Thank you and Bye. And the waiter said his pronunciation was very good. Amazing.'
'[My child] comes home keen to apply new words that he has learnt at school in the home context. He is even teaching his 2-year-old sister to count in French. He often describes things in French.'
— Families from trial preschools, 2015

Watch ELLA in action

Three preschool-aged children are looking at a tablet.

What do you get when you join the ELLA program?

  • Access to seven apps in your preschool's choice of language: currently, Arabic, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese or Spanish. Each app includes fun, play-based language learning experiences.
  • A Liaison Officer is available to support your preschool in implementing ELLA, and a staffed helpdesk is available 9–4 (AEST) weekdays.
  • The step-by-step Program Guide makes participating in ELLA easy.
  • Educational reporting and 'I can' statements can be used to share children's learnings with families.
  • Language and culture overviews provide your preschool with background information about the language and culture.
  • Posters are available to promote ELLA at your preschool.
  • Regular newsletters keep you informed and offer tips for how to make the most of ELLA.
  • A Facebook group and a forum site enable you to find tips and share experiences with other preschools.
  • Educator App: Find background information and practical advice for implementing ELLA.
  • Family App: Families can download the Family App to try one of the learning experiences at home, and to learn more about ELLA.

Download the Family App

Child using play-based language learning activity focusing on colour words

The 2015–16 ELLA trial

In 2015–16, ELLA was trialled at nearly 300 preschools around Australia. The program was formally evaluated in 2015 by Deloitte Access Economics, and was found to be a success. Educators and parents expressed very positive feedback on the ELLA program.

Download and read the report here.

Educator and child using app collaboratively

Applications for ELLA 2017 have closed

Applications for ELLA 2017 closed on 26 February 2017. Applications for the ELLA 2018 program will open in late 2017. Support payments of $500 will be available to eligible preschools located in disadvantaged areas that apply. Check back here later this year for details on applying for ELLA 2018.

In 2018 Hindi and Modern Greek will be added to the currently available ELLA languages of Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

Contact the ELLA helpdesk at ella@esa.edu.au or 1800 468 303 for further information on ELLA or to register to be alerted when applications open for 2018.