Bilingual by 5 – The Benefits of Learning a Second Language in the Early Years
As the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) Program has recently received extra funding, learning a second language in the early years has once again become a hot topic amongst industry experts.
ELLA, a digital, play-based language learning program, first introduced by the Federal Government to 40 preschools in 2014, has been very successful and is currently available at 2500 Australian Preschools. The new $11.8 million funding, as announced by Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham, will expand the program to 5000 preschools and 300 primary schools around Australia.
Why should children be learning a second language in the early years?
The benefits of learning a second language during the early years are endless. Harvard Professor and director of Harvard’s Language Science Lab Maria Polinsky is a strong supporter of second language learning in early childhood. Polinsky explains that children who learn more than one language develop much more cognitive control than their monolingual peers. This enhanced cognitive control supports the development of skills like problem solving, critical thinking and multitasking.
Contrary to common belief, being exposed to different languages does not confuse young children. It actually enhances literacy development in their mother tongue, as they learn how languages work and are able to create links between the different languages.
Being exposed to a new language also means being exposed to a new culture and bilingual children display a more positive attitude, greater empathy and tolerance towards other cultures.
Another fantastic benefit of learning a second language during the early years is that it enhances children’s self-esteem and social skills.
Education experts around the country and the world agree that early exposure to foreign languages is extremely beneficial. At Early Start Programs, we prefer to deliver this with a more interactive method using song, dance, stories and rhyme delivered face-to-face in a play-based environment.
Extracurricular programs are growing popular amongst early education and care centres and children are reaping the benefits. Early Start Programs’ LCF Fun Languages, for example, is a fantastic alternative or addition to ELLA, as it takes this learning experience even further with foreign language lessons from fluent speaking teachers.
These programs take place at early education services as incursion programs and are aligned with individual services’ programs and based on children’s current interests. Lessons include songs, games, arts and craft activities that also help build children’s interpersonal and social skills.
Preschools and Long Day Care Centres in NSW can utilise government funding options, like Start Strong to implement programs like Early Start Programs at their services and help make high quality early childhood education more affordable. Programs are delivered for only $3.50/child/day*.
For more information and for general enquiries, contact us today!