Through the Language Zone, you will find the abbreviations L1 and L2. L1 refers to the first language that a person speaks. L2 refers to the second or additional language that they acquire.

Some schools, mostly in remote communities, have a history of teaching Indigenous children’s L1 in classroom learning through L1 literacy programs and teaching using the children's first language. These two-language schools have generally been called ‘bilingual schools’. In some places, bilingual schools have had L1 texts created and they have been associated with high rates of local language speaking staff and literacy in the local Indigenous language. Examples of these texts can be seen in the Living Archive of Aboriginal Languages.

Bilingual schools have typically started children off in their L1 and added L2 Standard Australian English instruction to what is taught. If children will move from preschool into a bilingual school, they will benefit from careful planning of the language aspects of their programs by educators in both schools.

High levels of community participation have often been involved to keep these schools functioning. The pivotal role of L1 for learning supported in bilingual schools is not consistently foregrounded in generic education resources and policies. This is an added reason for preschool educators to understand how best to work with community wishes for their children.