Modern Greek will be one of 13 languages other than English to be taught to preschoolers in Australia this academic year through ELLA, an educational program aimed at acquainting young learners with different cultures and helping them develop essential cognitive skills such as memory recall, critical thinking, verbal and spatial awareness.
Though Greek is the sixth most spoken language in Australia, the 2016 ABS census reported a rather alarming decline in the number of Greek speakers across the country.
The good news is that the government seems determined to address the problem by including Greek in the Early Learning Languages Australia (ELLA) program. In this way, it supports recent activities organized by Greek communities in Australia, such as the Speak Greek in March campaign in 2016. A spokesperson from the Department of Education and Training told Neos Kosmos that the ELLA apps could encourage and ignite interest in long-term Greek language learning and culture from a young age.
According to Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham, ELLA produced encouraging results in its first year of implementation and there was an incredible response to it with over 1,800 preschool services and more than 60,000 children across Australia participating in learning different languages.
Using play-based apps that will enable even educators who are not experts in the language to run the program, ELLA is backed up by a staffed help desk as well as a dedicated website offering a wide range of resources, an experienced Liaison officer, online forum and Facebook group.
Funding for the program amounts to $ 15.7 million, while there are also 1,000 grants of $500 available so that tablet devices and accessories will be purchased, thus enabling preschool children to participate in the program.