The Commonwealth Government will expand the Early Learning Languages Australia program (ELLA) in 2018 with Modern Greek and Hindi to be added to the apps for Arabic, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.
The announcement follows the release of a report by Deloitte and Swinbourne University of Technology that evaluated the 2016 program trial sites and confirmed that the trial had shown positive results in increasing language exposure for preschool children.
The trial sites generally found the program easy to implement. There were minimal costs associated with program implementation, and 93% of educators responding to the evaluation survey stated that the ELLA apps were either ‘very’ or ‘somewhat easy’ to introduce to the preschool.
Of the educator survey respondents, 17% stated that ‘all’ children were able to speak words in the target language, while a further 36% reported that ‘most’ children were able to speak words. Additionally, approximately 70% of educator survey respondents stated that the ELLA apps had facilitated children showing more of an interest in, and understanding of, other cultures.
Preschools were required to provide their own devices for 2016 trial and this resulted an increase in the tablet-to-child ratio within preschools as compared to the 2015 trial in which iPads were provided to preschools. While absolute engagement with the ELLA trial was high, with more than 8000 active users, on a per child basis, usage of the ELLA apps was slightly lower than in 2015. In 2016, ELLA participants used the apps for an average of 12.6 minutes per week, with the most active 10% of children accounting for 36% of total app usage.
Educators also reported benefits associated with being involved with the ELLA trial, with 75% stating they had more confidence incorporating language learning into their preschools, 68% stating they had more confidence incorporating digital technology into their preschool program and 87% noting that they expected children to continue to demonstrate an interest in learning about additional languages.
Family observations of the ELLA program were also positive, with more than 60% of parent/guardian survey responses stating they would recommend the ELLA program be adopted in other preschools. Additionally, more than two-thirds of respondents stated that they had observed their child using at least one word in the target language at home. However, there was relatively low awareness of the ELLA trial among participating families, with 36% of survey respondents stating that they had not heard about the trial until receiving the survey (despite parental consent being required for participation).
Nearly 1850 preschools are participating 2017 program and information on the 2018 ELLA program will be added in late 2017 for preschools wishing to participate next year.
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