If you are a family preparing for your move to Spain, why not imerse your kids into Spanish before they arrive here?
To be honest if you have young children of nursery or primary school age, they won’t have too much trouble picking up the language! Kids of this age are like sponges and they have very little problem in switching from their new found language of Spanish to their mother tongue in an instant. The kids normally get their parents motivated to start learning, especially when they can’t understand what their own children are talking about to their new school friends!
Moving on to slightly older children, here are a few excerts from an interview with a Mother moving her kids to Spain from the UK and the trials & tribulations her family met when it came to learning Spanish and getting her children into a Spanish school and what would be the right choice?
This interview is from 2003 but I can’t see any difference when doing the same today!If you would like to see the whole interview, it’s here:http://www.thinkspain.com/news/noticia.asp?CodNoticia=389
Janine Turner & her husband Peter made the decision to move to Elche, Costa Blanca with their children Adam 14 & Jasmine 10 at the time.
Their biggest concern was the children’s education, and they started to read everything they could get their hands on about what a move to Spain might entail for them. What they found most helpful was the Internet and especially the website message boards used by other people in the same situation. Through them Janine was able to make contact with people who had already moved their children over to the Costa Blanca area. She was especially concerned about Adam who was at a difficult age to change from the British to the Spanish school system, and although Jasmine was younger and more adaptable she wasn’t sure how the change would affect her either. Both children seemed extremely keen to make the move, so Janine and Peter decided to arrange a private Spanish tutor for them to get them prepared. It was difficult to find a tutor to come to the house and it was very expensive. The tutor taught the children separately for two hours each a week for a period of four months. Adam is particular good at languages and learned very quickly, while Jasmine found it more difficult and was inclined to take the classes less seriously. Janine had a job to convince her that the more she learned before she went, the easier it would be for her when she started school in Spain. Some of the comments they read about state schooling in Spain were very negative, saying that children were left to do colouring all day if they didn’t understand the language. Because of this they originally intended to send the children to private bilingual schools. However after more research and a lot of discussion they decided that local state schools was a better option. It would mean that they would be less isolated in the village as they would mix with local children and hopefully pick up the language more naturally.
By the time they had sold their house in Britain and were ready to make the move it was December, so the children would be starting their new school in January, well after the beginning of the school year. As the moving date arrived Adam was glad to be off, but Jasmine was very upset to be leaving her friends behind.
Jasmine had a hard time for the first few days at school and came home in tears. As there are only three or four English children in the whole school the local children were fascinated by her and genuinely wanted to be friendly, but they were inclined to surround her and almost treat her like a celebrity. She, on the other hand, did not understand what they were saying to her, and was scared. Adam had some difficulties socialising with the children in his class, although one way to break down barriers for him was to offer to help them with their English homework, if they helped him with his Spanish. A lot of the girls in his class kept trying out their English on him, and did not realise that he really wanted to speak with them in Spanish. However, these teething problems were resolved within a fairly short time.
In general the children’s experience of the school has been extremely positive. To Janine they seem a lot happier than they were in the UK. She feels that the atmosphere at the school is pleasant and relaxed and that the teachers genuinely like the children they teach and have a lot of time for them. They appear much more appoachable than their counterparts in Britain and are prepared to explain things that the children don’t understand during the breaks. Teachers are addressed by their first name, but this does not undermine their respect in any way. Also the children themselves seem more natural than in Britain, they seem less materialistic, less concerned about fashion and designer labels and wear ordinary clothes to school.
Quite a big problem for both children has been the Maths lessons as this subject is taught very differently in Spain and also at a higher standard. Janine feels that sometimes the teachers have not fully appreciated the difficulties the children are facing because of the language barrier. The food was also a problem at first as it is quite different from what the children were used to and they were told by the monitors they had to eat most of every meal. However, the food is wholesome and both children have shed some extra weight and become more adventurous in their eating habits.
Another difficulty has been communicating with the school and finding out about meetings and extra activities. The village is in an area where the Valencian dialect is spoken as well as standard Castilian Spanish, and all letters from the school are written in both languages. Although Janine is learning Castilian Spanish, she has sometimes been unaware of meetings or has got instructions wrong because of the language difficulties. At carnival time the school put on a big procession and a huge amount effort was put into their costumes. It was a fantastic affair and the whole village closed down while they paraded through the streets. The girls in Jasmine’s class were dressed as cheerleaders and the mothers were told to sew a 4º symbol on the front of their shirts. Janine managed to understand all the instructions except the number, and Jasmine was the only child with the wrong number on her costume. Poor Jasmine was mortified and Janine felt so frustrated that her basic level of Spanish had led to the misunderstanding. Similar problems have occurred this year as Adam has started at a new secondary school. For some reason they misunderstood the time of the introductory meeting, but even when they were allowed into another meeting, it was all held in the Valencian dialect so Adam, who has also been studying Castilian Spanish, was unable to understand a word of what was said.
Despite these difficulties Janine has no regrets about her decision regarding her children’s education. Although she finds it hugely frustrating not to understand all the school procedures, and still feels in the dark about some aspects, it is gradually getting better. She realises that time is still needed for the children to catch up academically but they are already passing some exams and bringing home reasonable school reports. Most important of all to Janine and Peter is that their children are happy going to school and are living the healthier life style that their parents wished for them.
I hope you enjoyed and took something from this interview!
Look what President Obama had to say about children in the US learning Spanish.