University Language Academy



Program Type:


Participation Details:

  • Fee required
  • Registration/Application required



  • (217) 300-7592 or (217) 265-9002


Parent Program(s):

  • Department of Spanish & Portuguese




Language Education for Children

It’s never too soon to begin! Learning another language opens minds and changes lives; it makes the world bigger and more accessible for children.

Why wait until high school or college? Children who learn a second language early and continuously show higher linguistic proficiency in adulthood. Furthermore, there are significant motivational and proficiency-related benefits of early second language acquisition. Our programs seek to complement and expand the language education offerings beyond elementary schools in our community.

A Premier Language Academy

The University Language Academy started in September 2010 and offers full-immersion second language education to students in the community grades pre-K to12.

Classes are taught entirely in the second language and are available for all levels, including beginners with no prior experience and students who grew up with the language in the household. The academy is a university-based laboratory school that facilitates teaching and research as an initiative of the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Classes immerse your child in a new language, fostering an appreciation for different cultures while deepening the understanding of their native language. Their philosophy rests on research findings that the best time to learn a second language is childhood, and that early second language education brings cognitive, academic, social, and cultural advantages to children.

Knowledgeable Teachers

The University Language Academy has highly experienced teachers, fluent in their language of instruction, who serve as models for successful language exposure. All the teachers have MA degrees in Spanish, Education or a related field and have significant experience working with children and teaching language to children. Their teachers participate in continuous professional development and are members of ACTFL, the American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

They have found through experience that when working with young children of different ages in a second language, it is best to have two adults in the classroom. While one teaches or leads an activity, the other assists individual children by helping them focus and keep them on task.

The academy founder and director is Professor Silvina Montrul, who is also the current head of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, professor in the Department of Linguistics, and director of the Second Language Acquisition and Bilingualism Lab at the University of Illinois.

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