Do Schools Effectively Teach Second Languages to Students?

By Caitlin Werner

In the United States, a large percentage of children attend public school. According to the  U.S. Department of Education, 91% of preK-12 will be enrolled in public schools by 2021. Most children are exposed to language when they are in high school but who remembers the two years of Spanish they took at 15? While it is never too late to learn a new language, starting at an earlier age has many if not more benefits. A recent study showed that if a person starts learning a language before the age of 18, they have a much better likelihood of obtaining a native-like mastery of the language’s grammar than if they started later.

But isn’t learning another language in elementary school distracting? On the contrary.  Studies at the Cornell Language Acquisition Lab (CLAL)  show children who learn a second language can remained focused despite outside stimuli better than children who know only one language. In other words, being bilingual has many cognitive advantages which also contribute to a child’s future academic success.

How come I only remember language being offered in high school? That’s because the U.S. does not have any national requirement for learning a second language. As of 2016, only 15% of American elementary schools offer language classes.

With edtech on the rise and iPads becoming a daily part of life in the classroom, Shoonya aims to bridge the gap between language, culture and education. Our apps have been proven to enhance fine motor skills, exposure your little one to world cultures and spark your child’s creativity.  Two of the apps (Shoonya Farm Animals and Shoonya Jungle Animals) feature 9 languages- English, Spanish, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarti, Punjabi, Telugu, Arabic & German. Language learning and diversity are the wave of the future and Shoonya digital aspires to one day be used as a tool in all classrooms to support multilingualism.


Caitlin Werner