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Language, culture, understanding.

Information for educators

Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program

ELLA is an Australian Government initiative.

Introduce a new language at your preschool.

You’ll be amazed at what unfolds.

What is ELLA?

An educator says: ‘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.’

ELLA is a fun and easy digital language program for preschool children. The program is an Australian Government initiative designed to encourage more students to study languages. ELLA inspires children by driving a genuine interest in a new language and culture.

ELLA is an evidence-based program that has been made available to all eligible Australian preschools after two years of highly successful trials. (See the FAQs for more about eligibility.) More than 4,000 preschools around Australia have participated in the program.

An educator says: ‘I have really enjoyed learning alongside the children. I love that I am no longer the expert. There is so much collaboration.’

How does ELLA work?

An educator says: ‘We regularly hear children singing songs from the apps such as the heads-shoulders song, colours, the greetings – they say the fruit names and when using the apps you can hear them repeating the names. Parents say they hear them at home using the language.’

The play-based program introduces children to learning a new language via interactive tablet apps. The apps are free, simple to use, and can be easily incorporated into your service.

Your preschool selects one of these languages for the children to learn: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish, Turkish or Vietnamese.

You do not require language training to use the apps, and you can learn the language alongside the children in a collaborative way. You are supported by a liaison officer; a step-by-step program guide; a website providing implementation advice and printable resources; and a responsive helpdesk.

ELLA also creates opportunities for you to enrich the language and culture in the apps. You have the opportunity to extend the learning experiences into your program through other activities such as cooking, stories and music, and by inviting family and community members to share their cultures at the preschool.

At least one compatible tablet device is required for ELLA.

Meet the Polyglots

In the apps, children meet a cast of characters called the Polyglots, who introduce the children to words, sentences and songs in another language through play-based learning.

The apps draw on the interests and activities of young children, such as celebrations, cooking experiences, art activities, building and role-play. The apps are designed to be engaging, educational and collaborative. Their development has been guided by experts in languages, early childhood and technology.

What are the benefits of ELLA?

An educator says: ‘Older children are helping our younger Chinese children who cannot speak English in day-to-day routines, such as mealtimes, and now have a common language to communicate with them.’

Participating in ELLA is beneficial not only for the children, but also for their families and educators.

Children can expand their knowledge of how language works and apply these skills to other literacy tasks, such as listening carefully to sounds in words. These skills can be used when the children learn to read and write. ELLA also helps to develop foundation skills in areas like counting, colours and greetings.

Playing with the apps helps children to develop and use cognitive and social skills. They can share the tablet devices and their knowledge, and interact with and help each other. Language learning improves memory, concentration and critical-thinking skills. Using the apps also increases children’s digital skills.

An educator says: ‘The children are mimicking Indonesian words very quickly and picking it up easily. Words, sentences, phrases or sounds, it doesn’t matter. They’re happy to say it all and LOVE IT! They use it during mealtime quite often: if one child starts, the rest will join in and then all of a sudden we have an Indonesian class. They switch between two languages as they play.’

ELLA creates opportunities to celebrate culture and diversity, share home languages, and strengthen links between families and your preschool. Families have found their children are also using the language at home, and while out and about.

A family member says: ‘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.’

Educators have reported improved confidence in incorporating language learning and digital technology into their programs, and ELLA has supported the acceptance and awareness of other cultures.

What do you get when you join ELLA?

When your preschool joins ELLA you get access to:

  • seven apps in your preschool’s choice of one of these languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Modern Greek, Spanish, Turkish or Vietnamese. Each app includes fun, age-appropriate, play-based language learning experiences
  • a liaison officer to support you in implementing ELLA
  • a responsive helpdesk, available weekdays
  • educational reporting and ‘I can’ statements, which can be used to share children’s learning with families
  • background information on the language and culture
  • posters to promote ELLA at your preschool
  • regular newsletters to keep you informed and to offer tips on how to make the most of ELLA
  • printable resources to extend the children’s language experience.

How to apply

For more information and to apply for the ELLA program, visit the ELLA website: www.ella.edu.au.

FAQs

Is my preschool eligible to use ELLA?

Preschools will need to agree to terms and conditions in order to be part of the program, and must offer a preschool/kindergarten program provided primarily to children in the year before school, delivered by a degree-qualified early childhood teacher, and have internet/WiFi connection. Only children enrolled in a preschool/kindergarten program are eligible to use the apps. Refer to the ELLA website for more information: www.ella.edu.au.

Is ELLA free?

Yes, the apps are free, although at least one compatible tablet device is required for ELLA.

Are the apps hard to use?

The apps are simple to use and can be easily incorporated into your preschool program. You will also be supported by a liaison officer, a website, printable resources, and a responsive helpdesk.

Do I need language training to use ELLA?

No. You do not need language training. You will be able to learn the language alongside the children in a collaborative way.

What about screen time limits for young children?

ELLA is flexible and designed to fit with your program style. Children would spend no more than 40 minutes per week on the ELLA apps as part of your play-based program. This aligns with the Australian Government’s screen time recommendations for young children.

Won’t learning multiple languages overwhelm the children?

Research shows young children can learn several languages at once. If a child speaks another language at home, they can continue to learn their home language, English and the ELLA program language all at once. There are intellectual, literacy, social and cultural benefits to learning multiple languages.

What about privacy and online safety?

The children’s privacy and safety will be protected when using ELLA. On the tablet devices each child will be identified by their first name only and a photograph. ELLA strongly recommends using images the children will recognise rather than their faces to ensure privacy.

Data on the children’s usage of the apps will be collected; however, it will be stored securely, and when it leaves the preschool the data will be de-identified, meaning that particular data will not be linked to a particular child. Regarding online safety, the ELLA apps work within a closed system in your preschool – the apps are not available to the public and are not able to be used to communicate with anyone.

How do I apply to have ELLA at my preschool?

For more information and to apply, visit the ELLA website: www.ella.edu.au. You can also contact the ELLA helpdesk on 1800 468 303 or ella@esa.edu.au

Copyright statement

ELLA is funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment and is managed by Education Services Australia. © 2021 Commonwealth of Australia, unless otherwise indicated. This material, other than Commonwealth trade marks in The Polyglots characters and The Polyglots logo, may be used in accordance with the Creative Commons BY-NC 4.0 licence, unless otherwise indicated.