How Quickly Do Expat Pre-Schoolers Learn Spanish In Spain?

Published on 02/07/2007 in Kids in Spain

Schools and Education in Spain Guide

Learning at schoolWhen Jeremy and Teresa Coleman moved to Spain, their two small children spoke no Spanish at all. Thrown 'in at the deep end', would they cope? Jim Porter asked Jeremy how they got on.

Jim: How old were your children when you moved abroad?

Jeremy: One and three.

Jim: And how old are they now?

Jeremy: Two and a half and four and a half.

Jim: How quickly did they adapt to their new surroundings?

Jeremy: Very quickly. Niamh started school imediately and loved it from day one. The children are very settled here and made friends instantly with the other children in our street.

Jim: In what ways have they been learning the new language?

Jeremy: Mainly at their school and nursery where Spanish is the only language spoken. At their individual speeds they have picked it up very well.

Jim: How quickly did they start speaking the new language?

Jeremy: Niamh took a matter of a few weeks to get to grips with Spanish and is totally bi-lingual now. Harry understands and speaks basic Spanish at nursery although he doesn't repeat it at home even when prompted by me.

Jim: How well do they speak the new language now?

Jeremy: Niamh - Fluently like a native. Harry not as well but that's because he is that much younger.

Jim: Have you been surprised by the speed with which they have learned the new language?

Jeremy: Yes. Niamh amazed me with the speed she became proficient in Spanish.

Jim: Did you prepare them for the new language in any way before moving abroad?

Jeremy: We bought Niamh some English/Spanish picture books and sticker books before moving here. She did not pay special attention to them until we actually got here then she loved them because they had some relevence.

Jim: What negative experiences have there been for your children with the new language?

Jeremy: None that I'm aware of. I'm sure they both were a bit confused when they first got here but they have adapted very well.

Jim: What positive experiences have there been for your children with the new language?

Jeremy: They are bilingual and will have that skill forever as they have learnt Spanish at such a young age. It opens up opportunities to them that will enrich their lives. Travel, cultures, people etc...

Jim: Thanks Jeremy.

Jeremy: No hay de qué.

Written by: Jim Porter

About the

Jim is one quarter of Lingua4 ltd, the team who made Speekee ( Speekee is a Spanish language course on DVD which is designed for young children but works for adults too. Read our review of Speekee here.  Check out the Speekee review on Eye on Spain.

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