The Future of British Children in Spain

Published on 5/21/2007 in Kids in Spain

Schools and Education in Spain Guide

Job Hunting in Spain

I was talking to a Swiss lady the other who is currently job hunting here on the Costa del Sol. She is a qualified accountant and is finding it really difficult to find something despite being fluent in Spanish. Both her parents are Spanish and she was brought up in a Spanish home as was her husband who has had to start again at the bottom of the ladder despite his qualifications.

It appears that employers are using the excuse of not recognising her Swiss gained qualifications. However, less qualified people from the local area are being offered the jobs. I get the impression that most job hunting in Spain, and I am not talking about in the expat world of real estate and so on, involves a fair amount of having the right contacts and nepotism.

Will The Children Of The Expats Be Second Choice?

Speaking to her got me thinking about the future of my own children. Will they be second choice to the real locals in the future? It’s true that they will have attended Spanish school all their lives but will they still be regarded as “guiris” in the future? It isn’t such an issue in inland areas but in the coastal regions where there is a high concentration of British it is so easy for children to hold onto their Englishness and live alongside the Spanish as opposed to mixing with them.

Will this count against the British children in the future and will they only be able to find employment with British employers if they want to remain in Spain? Seeking employment in the UK will not be an option since they will hold Spanish qualifications and their English language ability will not be reflected in their written English if they have attended Spanish school.

Something To Consider

Many British people feel very ‘grateful’ for living in Spain and that they shouldn’t question their rights and entitlements, especially since their children are enjoying the free sate education. But we need to start considering what will become of these children in the future and will they have what the Spanish working world requires. Will they do as well in school to gain the necessary qualifications as they would have done in English?

We tend to concentrate on the fact that the children have this wonderful opportunity to learn Spanish but what good is it if it remains a second language if they have to study and work in Spain. Although, having two languages has its obvious positive aspects, do we need to ask ourselves if they are truly bilingual in the sense that they have equal proficiency in both languages in terms of reading, writing, speaking etc. In other words, will the promise of bilingualism come true in the end?

It would be awful to think that at the end of relocating and raising our children in Spain we will have actually put them in a position where they are penalised in both Spain and the UK for not having adequate Spanish or English or just not ‘fitting in’ to a workplace in either culture.

The Final Result

Perhaps, I am considering too far into the future as we don’t know what the world will be in fifteen years time but I think that I have raised issues that people tend to hope will go away or turn out okay in the end.

Written by: Susan Pedalino

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Women In Spain

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katetill said:
Friday, June 1, 2007 @ 7:14 PM

I am a teacher and GCSE examiner who has worked as a private tutor and teacher in international schools in Spain and I have become very concerned about the plight of British children's education in Spain. The people who come to Spain with children of secondary school age find that they cannot integrate and cope with Spanish schools and do not get the kind of help that they would get in the UK if they were a foreign student. The number of times I have seen children come to international schools having basically learnt nothing for months, or even years, is shocking but then it doesn't end there. Perents find after a term or two that they are struggling to meet the fees for private education and the children disappear. I suspect in many cases not to attend school at all, having come across some sixteen year olds who have not attended any since age 14. There is no government agency here that is interested enough to ensure that British children are attending school on a regular basis. There is also no doubt that in alot of cases their written English skills are a good deal less developed than the equivalent children in the UK. Add to that the problems of motivating children in this 'we're on holiday culture' and the lack of good post 16 courses, other than A'Levels, here on the coast and the opportunities for advancement get even smaller. (I know there are now a couple of places offering NVQs!) And I am not even going to mention those children with special needs! Perents are right to be concerned.

claudine said:
Thursday, May 31, 2007 @ 1:01 AM

Me again. I would to add that the primary school they attended tried really hard and I was impressed but it is once they start secondary school where the rot sets in. However, having spoken to Spanish friends they say that their children are almost encouraged to be racist and their childrens education has suffered greatly since commencing secondary school as well. We as parents (English, Irish, Russian, Bulgarian, Spanish & German, see we have tried to integrate)are very sad about the attitude & educational standards.

claudine said:
Thursday, May 31, 2007 @ 12:30 AM

I think you have a very valid point as my two girls are both fluent in Spanish but are still considered guiries by both teachers and pupils and are way behind by English standards in literacy. I can only rue the fact that I could not afford to pay for the education they deserve & I dreamed of for them. The school they attend is racist but I cannot complain because they are picked on further & I do not wish to make their lives harder than it is already. I will however continue to help them mature & achieve their dreams & goals in any way I can. Signed: A single (English) mum living in Spain for 7 years now.

patman said:
Wednesday, May 23, 2007 @ 12:40 AM

You have raised some very interesting points Susan and it's something I had not considered. Ie. No matter how good your Spanish is you may still not stand a chance when going for a "good job" ie. not bar work or cleaning if you are not Spanish. Also I do not think there is any need to feel grateful for living in Spain. On the contrary Spain should be grateful for the monetary input to it's economy. It should work both ways with no need for gratitude from either party if that makes any sense.

shar said:
Tuesday, May 22, 2007 @ 7:49 AM

I read this article with interest as it is close to my heart and never far from my mind when I think how my own children are getting on and one of the reasons that they are having English lessons here so they don’t fall too far back with their own language/grammer. I have even considered that after they finish Spanish state school that I put them through some GCSE's in an international school. Nobody knows what the future holds, we can all guess but this is a real concern we move out here for a better more relaxed way of life for our children but will they suffer in later life for the experiences gained now...........I am not sure, we are lucky enough to live inland and so our children mix with the Spanish more than a lot of expat children so hopefully their Spanish as a second language will be very close to their Mother tongue. Both my sons play football for their local team and our eldest is hoping to go professional, however he was the one we put through and international school because of his age and after a stint back in the UK decided he wanted to be here, a result I thought.........we can can only wait and see. The two younger children went to Spanish state school are very happy but I often wonder how well they are actually doing as I am not always understanding the Spanish curriculum fully! I also had a lot of time in the UK to spend with the children when they were younger helping them with school work, now which was not supposed to happen I find myself in a business that has grown so much I have no time at all to help them which is why I get them lessons for an hour a week, is this enough, I doubt it very much but we are here now and I suppose only time will tell when we have been here a few more years and they decide what they want to do with themselves, I suppose we are lucky if my business carries on the natural thing to do is for them to carry on with it but again this would be back to them working in an expat society re-locating expats but at least they would be better at translating than me!

Love to hear any other views on this.

Have we done the right thing, now I would say definitely yes but in the future who knows!

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