Songlingo wins Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 25th District

Rep. Schultz has named Adam Elitzur, a 12th grader at Posnack School, as the winner of the 2023 Congressional App Challenge in Florida’s 25th District.

When asked what inspired the creation of Songlingo, the student said, “Upon moving to Broward County, Florida, after 9th grade, I was struck by the communication barriers that existed due to language differences. Over 25% of my county’s population speaks Spanish, and almost 40% of that group speaks limited English. Knowing little Spanish at the time, I quickly realized the communication challenges both for me and for non-English speakers.

In the local youth group, Maccabi Tzair, where I am a kindergarten counselor, a child who had recently emigrated from South America spoke no English. It pained me how hard it was for him to make friends, as he couldn’t communicate with the other children. I set out on a journey to learn Spanish.

One helpful technique involved listening to Latin music. I would look up each song’s lyrics, translate unfamiliar words, and make flashcards. The process was time-consuming, and I thought there had to be a better way. This sparked the idea for Songlingo, a website to learn languages through songs.

After creating Songlingo, I used the site to improve my Spanish until I could more easily communicate with my Spanish-speaking kindergartener. Seeing my progress, I realized the website had the potential to help many others in similar situations. I also realized it could help English learners, many of whom face significant challenges due to language barriers, including fewer job opportunities, lower salaries, and less access to healthcare. By making English learning fun and accessible, Songlingo can help break some of these barriers. I began spreading the word through language learning social media channels. The site now has over 5,500 language learners across the globe, bridging language and cultural barriers.”

This year’s Challenge saw an unprecedented level of participation, with 374 Members of the House of Representatives hosting competitions, surpassing the previous record of 340. A remarkable 11,334 students from across the United States competed in this year’s Challenge, marking an impressive increase of nearly 1,000 participants compared to the previous record set in 2019. The enthusiasm and creativity these students display is a testament to the growing interest in technology and signal a bright future for American innovation. The surge of ingenuity continued with a whopping 3,645 original applications flooding in, nearly a thousand more than the previous year’s high. This remarkable growth showcases the exceptional talent and innovation within our nation’s youth.

The Congressional App Challenge is an official initiative of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Members of Congress host contests in their districts for middle school and high school students, encouraging them to learn to code and inspiring them to pursue careers in computer science. This resounding show of bipartisan support emphasizes the critical importance of STEM education in today’s rapidly evolving world. Each participating Member of Congress selects a winning app from their district, and each winning team is invited to showcase their winning app to Congress during our annual #HouseOfCode festival. The program is a public-private partnership made possible through funding from Omidyar Network, AWS, Rise, theCoderSchool, Apple, and others.

The 2024 Congressional App Challenge will launch in May of 2024, and eligible students can pre-register for the competition now.