Bringing our twelve year old to Spain have always been our main worry, having read many articles and forum discussions regarding bringing an older child to a different country can pose many complications, mainly affecting their education and social skills. Having to learn a new language after the age of 10 proves a lot more difficult for many children.
We enrolled our two boys aged five and twelve in a (half government maintained and half privately funded) concertado school in Valencia. We initially chose a British Private school, but the distance proved to be too much to travel everyday. The concertado school we enrolled the boys in have a good English language support for non-Spanish speaking students.
At the start we was not sure whether we made the right decision. I think it has helped that the school that we have chosen was very helpful and supportive to us and our boys. Since starting in the beginning of November, our eldest boy specially is doing very well. Not only he has made new friends and has settled in well, he is also doing great in speaking and learning Spanish. Our youngest boy, however, is still lacking confidence in speaking the language, but the school has reassured us that this will come in time. They are not pressuring him in any kind, other than to learn how to speak Spanish.
He to have made some friends and do understand a few words, sometimes, we think that he knows more than he is letting on, he will come out with phrases and words that we didn’t think he knew. Even though we encourage him to speak Spanish at home, he is still unsure and prefer to speak in English, but I guess that will come in time and I would assume that native English speaking kids do prefer to speak their mother tongue while at home.
Hiring a private tutor definitely helps, we have found English speaking tutors in Valencia who help us polish our Spanish. The prices vary, depending on what area you live in and always go with recommendations. I have spoken to a few British families in Spain, and it is really surprising that STILL many expats come here refuse to learn the language. I guess if they live in an English speaking community they do not feel the need to integrate with the Spaniards. Personally, I think this is very sad, and I cannot imagine taking my family in a non- English speaking country and NOT speak a word of their language. Kind of ironic isn’t it when some Brits complain about non-English speaking immigrants that come to the UK.
This week my son told me that he is ready to read some Spanish books. He is an avid reader and I suggested that maybe we should get a book that he has read before but in Spanish. He picked up ‘The Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ or ‘Diario de Greg’. He has read the book a few times so he said that this would help him understand more written Spanish and how the words are constructed. I’m proud to say that he is very determined which makes his transition a lot easier here in Spain. So far we are pleased with the kids progress and happy with the school that we have chosen.3