A new pilot language program to get more Victorian children speaking Greek in kindergarten was launched this week by the Victorian state government, which has allocated funding of $150,000 for kindergartens to deliver Greek language and culture programs in 2018.
“I’m delighted to be giving early childhood services a boost so that more Victorian children can embrace Greek culture and language,” said Minister for Early Childhood Education Jenny Mikakos. “As a Greek speaker myself, I understand the value of language and how it can benefit all learning.”
The minister presented the program to the Victorian Parliament, stressing that “the educational benefit in studying the Greek language is particularly significant given that one-third of English words are derived from Greek.” Making reference to 9 February being the International Day of the Greek Language, Minister Mikakos said that “Victoria’s Greek community has one of the highest language retention rates across successive generations compared to other languages taught in Victoria. It is also one of the top five languages spoken in Australian homes.”
This investment (which is on top of the Andrews Government’s $202.1 million Education State Early Childhood Reform Plan) will roll out at the early learning centres at Oakleigh Grammar, Alphington Grammar, and Alpha Children’s Centre in Richmond, allowing them to employ new early childhood teachers to boost their existing Greek language programs and deliver new language sessions, and also to deliver the program in up to six other kindergartens in areas with large Greek populations, in collaboration with the Greek Community of Melbourne and Victoria (GCOMV). The program will provide funding for all three centres to develop and distribute age-appropriate Greek language resources, including books, CDs, and games, and deliver cultural activities.
“Oakleigh is the heart of Melbourne’s Greek community so I welcome the opportunity for more local kids to learn this important language,” said Oakleigh MP Steve Dimopoulos, expressing his pride in the success of the Greek community in Victoria. “It’s important we continue to support the delivery of language and culture programs so that we ensure our greatest strength – our diversity – continues to flourish.”
For its part, the GCOMV issued a statement welcoming the opportunity to work with the Victorian Government to achieve this goal. “We will cooperate with centres located near our after-school hours campuses to develop a quality Greek language and culture program appropriate for this age group,” reads the statement.
“Such a program will establish strong foundations in these children’s learning and will facilitate a smooth transition into our after-hours primary school programs or any other primary school programs in the area that offer Greek.”
It is estimated that more than 110,000 Victorians speak Greek at home, which proves Melbourne’s status as home to the largest population of Greek speakers outside Greece.