The Australian Labor Party has made early childhood language education a key part of its platform for this election cycle, proposing an investment of 15 million Australian dollars (10.7 million US dollars) in schools in community languages across the country.
Under the party’s proposal, more than 700 schools across the country would receive up to A$30,000 (US$21,300) to expand their curriculum offerings. Currently, most community language schools in the country enroll children of primary school age, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Proponents of the funding believe it could allow schools to enroll younger children, helping students make early progress in their second language.
As has been widely documented in the field of second language acquisition, young children tend to achieve very high learning outcomes when they begin to learn another language, especially compared to adolescents and to adults.
“The younger someone starts learning another language, the easier it is to learn it,” said Australian Labor Party spokesperson Tanya Plibersek. sydney morning herald.
“That’s why we’ve made sure that this funding can help more community language schools open their classrooms to preschoolers. While the Labor Party primarily stresses the importance of expanding the provision of community language schools to preschoolers, once a school has received the funding it could spend it on other programs and strive to improve their performance. For example, Plibersek noted that the funding could also help schools improve their remote learning practices or simply increase class sizes.
Just over 100,000 students are enrolled in community language schools across Australia, according to Sydney Morning Herald. In Australia, these programs, which typically consist of weekend or after-school classes for children of immigrant parents, often rely on volunteer teachers to lead the lessons. Proponents of the funding say additional government funding could also allow community language schools across the country to hire staff. Andrew Warner