National

Kinder, primary language program to expand

By AAP Newswire

Move over finger painting, kindergarten kids will soon add Korean or Turkish lessons to their day.

Already 2500 Australian preschools offer language programs, teaching everything from Modern Greek to Arabic, Spanish, French and Mandarin.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said an extra $11.8 million funding will expand the program to 5000 preschools.

The language program, designed for children aged three and up, will also be extended into 300 primary schools, Senator Birmingham announced on a visit to a Sydney kindergarten on Friday.

He said exposure to another language and culture can significantly benefit children's development, including improving English and problem-solving skills.

As well as existing languages, offered through play-based apps, the Early Learning Languages Australia program will add Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish and German to their languages list.

"Language is life changing and learning another language is one of those skills that's best achieved in the early years and really does then create new opportunities throughout a child's development and life," Senator Birmingham said.

Workplace Minister Craig Laundy said many children at the preschool they visited, in his Reid electorate, were already speaking two languages.

"It shows the propensity of young minds to grasp languages and grow with it," he said.

He said more young children needed to develop language skills to carry them through primary school and beyond to allow them to face the world and "attack it with vigour".