The children are participating in the Early Learning Language Australia (ELLA) program - a fun, digital, play-based language learning program for children.
The program helps children to become more comfortable with learning a different language early in life so that they can stay engaged with learning languages in later years.
ELLA is an Australian Government evidence-based program offering Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), French, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Modern Greek and Spanish languages in 2018.
At Goodstart Idalia Village Drive in Townsville, early childhood teacher Yasmin Hunter said 25 children are learning Italian through ELLA.
“Learning another language at a young age is a great way for children to develop an awareness of other cultures and the wider world around them as well as helping them to gain a life-long interest learning other languages,” Ms Hunter said.
“Learning a second language has been shown to have positive impacts on children’s cognitive development as well as helping them to develop positive dispositions and enthusiasm for learning a language in their later years of schooling.
“It is also great for developing an early awareness of other cultures.”
The ELLA approach is unique because it uses a play-based application which does not require a qualified language teacher. Children and educators have the opportunity to learn together.
Children are able to explore the app at their own pace and are exposed to the language as they play. The app also allows the children to learn important skills in connecting with others such as sharing, taking turns and helping each other.
The app is filled with a variety of games that introduce words and phrases to the children in a fun and interactive way.
The apps are very interactive and use the microphone, encouraging children to respond and have a go at using the language.
Ms Hunter said the centre had also embedded cultural learning into their program through song, cooking Italian food, exploring maps and creating art.
She said the feedback from families had been very supportive.
“The reaction we have had to the program has been really positive. The families have been excited that their children have the opportunity to participate in such a fantastic program and we have been receiving feedback about words and phrases the children have been using at home.
“One of the children invited their Italian Nonna in for show and tell and she spoke with the children about Italy and sang some Italian songs.
“We are looking forward to welcoming our families for a three course Italian feast to celebrate at the end of semester.”