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Media Release: Mandarin learning expands for Bennelong preschoolers

14th March 2018

Around 1000 children at 25 Bennelong preschools will be given the opportunity to learn a second language in 2018, thanks to the Turnbull Government’s Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program.

Federal Member for Bennelong John Alexander said it was encouraging to see so many local preschools taking part in the program, especially learning Mandarin.

“We have a huge number of Chinese Australians contributing to and being a valuable part of our community, teaching Bennelong preschoolers Mandarin will enhance understanding and open up opportunities for the future for these local youngsters,” Mr Alexander said.

“I have been big driver and supporter of this program because we all know the benefits to a child’s development of having bilingual skills. The trial for this program was held in Bennelong a couple of years ago, and now it has gone from strength to strength, I’m quite proud to see it thrive,” Mr Alexander said.

“This will be the start of a life-long interest in language learning for our local children, while at the same time boosting their English and problem-solving skills.

Mr Alexander will visit Meadowbank Multipurpose Learning Centre on Thursday 15 March from 9:15AM to observe the program in action: 2 Thistle Street Ryde. All media are welcome.

The program, which is backed by $15.7 million in funding from the Turnbull Government, now includes nine languages, with the introduction of Hindi and Modern Greek this year, in addition to Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Indonesian, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish.

Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham said more than 80 000 children at almost 2500 preschools across the country will take part in the program.

“The enthusiastic feedback we’ve been getting from educators and parents means this year we’ll have record numbers of children learning a second language in our preschools,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Exposure to another language and culture can have significant benefits on children from a young age – it expands their horizons and opens up exciting opportunities around the world when they reach the workforce.”

ELLA began as a small trial of 41 preschools in 2015 and is a digital, play-based program where preschool children use a series of interactive applications (apps).

It is designed for use by educators who do not have formal language training; and extensive support, training and resources is provided to assist them in the effective delivery of the program.

More details about the program can be found at www.ella.edu.au