Australia

Preschoolers to learn foreign languages under $12m funding boost

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Young Australians could soon add Korean or Turkish lessons to their preschool learning.

The federal government has announced a funding boost of almost $12 million to get Australian kids speaking new languages.

The funding expansion of the Early Learning Languages Australia program will mean the initiative will be offered to 5,000 preschools and 300 primary schools, with Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish and German added as language options.

The program has already been available in some schools, offering Hindi, Greek, Arabic, Mandarin, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Italian and Spanish lessons.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham said children are better able to learn languages by starting early.

"This is a life-changing program because in the early years of life it gives children the opportunity to be exposed to languages that they may not otherwise have the chance to learn," he said.

"Through that exposure to those languages the children are able to develop their thinking skills, their cognitive skills, brain development as well as - we hope - develop a love of language that stays with them into school (and) beyond school."

The program was originally developed in 2015 in response to a decline in the number of students studying foreign languages in the higher levels of schooling.

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