Why the U.S. Lags Behind in Foreign Language Study

hablas espanol | KSS Immersion School

Learning a second language improves cultural tolerancememoryintelligence, and even English proficiency. However, the United States lags behind the rest of the developed world when it comes to foreign study. Research shows that most European countries have national-level mandates for foreign language study, with students learning a second language as early as six years old. But no such thing exists in the U.S.

Why Don’t More American Children Learn a Second Language?

The major difference between the U.S. and other developed nations is the flexibility of the American schooling system, where the state government (or school district) mandates foreign language requirements, not the federal government. In the majority of Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, it’s a different story: School children have to learn a second language from a young age. There’s a federal curriculum, so it’s national law.

In the U.S., states and cities set their own rules. Some mandate foreign study from as young as six or seven. Some require it later on in the school cycle. Some don’t require foreign language study at all. This patchwork quilt of regulations makes it confusing and leaves some students with no foreign language exposure whatsoever. Here in California, there is no state-imposed second language requirement in elementary or middle school.

Compare this to countries in Europe, where 92 percent of children learn a second language in school. In Luxembourg, Malta, and Liechtenstein, 100 percent of children are learning a foreign language. In the U.S., it’s just 20 percent.

“[In Belgium], though the local dialect is German, three-year-olds are required to study a foreign language,” says Big Think. “As it turns out, this is the easiest time during human development to grasp multiple dialects, given the plasticity of the brain. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes.

What are the Benefits of Foreign Language Study?

With no national foreign language mandate, it’s often up to parents to enroll kids in language immersion programs. For many parents, registering children in language immersion schools as soon as possible provides life-long benefits. KSS Immersion Schools specializes in preschool Spanish programs for children 2-6 in the Bay Area with multiple benefits. Children can:

  • Improve problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication.
  • Increase memory, concentration, and understanding.
  • Enhance future educational success and career prospects.
  • Gain a competitive advantage over monolingual children.
  • Make new friends.
  • Learn in a social distancing-complaint learning environment.

Learn about Spanish language preschool programs in the Bay Area here


Combining a quality early childhood education with a Spanish immersion program gives our students a leg up in their education and their lives. For parents who value multilingualism – beginning their child's formal learning with an immersion preschool is a natural fit. During this time, children’s brains are hard-wired for language learning and pick it up naturally. Bilingual children expand their awareness of the world and gain significant cognitive benefits. For students from Spanish-speaking homes, a Spanish-immersion education helps keep the family’s cultural heritage alive. There are many benefits of multilingualism and we are proud to support our students on their journey.

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top Call Now ButtonCall Now