Children adapt very quickly to change and new circumstances, and this includes learning a new language.
However, learning Spanish well enough to communicate your needs and understand what’s going on around you isn’t always easy.
This articles looks at ways you can help your children learn Spanish and fit into their new life in Spain as soon as possible.
1. Start early
Once you’ve made the decision to move to Spain and set a date, organise Spanish classes for your children.
Introduce them to the sounds and ‘feel’ of the language before the move so that they’re familiar to a certain extent with speaking and hearing Spanish.
2. Set an example
You too should sign up for a crash course in Spanish before the move so that your children see you as an example.
Share what you learn in your lessons with your children and make the experience fun and relaxed.
3. Encourage them to speak Spanish
Once you’ve arrived in Spain, encourage your children to speak Spanish at every opportunity.
Even if its’ just saying ‘buenos días’ to the neighbour your children need to start using Spanish as soon as possible.
4. Get extra support
When they first start school, you may want to consider getting them some extra support at the beginning. Some after-school tuition in Spanish will help them learn more quickly and easily.
In a one-to- one situation your children will feel more confident and can get some extra practice.
5. Get them involved
From day one, get your children involved in local activities and events. This will help them meet other children outside school and give them extra opportunities to speak Spanish.
(And by the way, you too should get involved as much as possible!)
6. Be understanding
No one learns a language overnight and all children experience challenges with learning Spanish at some point.
They may also feel frustrated that they cannot communicate with their peers or understand what’s going on around them.
Offer lots of support and understanding, and if necessary, get them some extra help.
7. Help them with school work
If you’ve chosen to send your children to Spanish schools, they may find themselves in the deep end – having to speak Spanish and read and write it.
If you can, help them out as much as possible especially at the beginning. Or get a private tutor to give them support.
Note that Spanish schools place great importance on learning things by rote so help your children as much as possible by repeating the required facts with them as many times as they need it.
8. Integrate in the local community
Moving to a new community is never easy for anyone and it’s even more challenging in a foreign country.
Spaniards are renowned for their welcoming and friendly attitude, but even so it’s up to you to join in.
Help your children become part of their new life by encouraging them to talk to other children in the local park, sign them up to after-school activities. Make it your mission to help your children speak as much Spanish as possible.
9. Watch Spanish TV
Spanish TV doesn’t rank among the world’s best, but it’s an important part of Spanish everyday life.
Television is also a good way of learning a language so encourage your children to watch programmes in Spanish. This will also mean they can join in when their friends at schools are talking about something on TV.
10. Don’t forget your own language
While helping your children to speak Spanish is vitally important if they’re going to make a success of their new life in Spain, you shouldn’t forget your own language.
Do all you can to encourage your children to embrace two languages and work towards becoming bilingual.