What are challenges that students go into transitioning from English to Spanish education system?


I am looking for some advice mainly from families living in Spain with young kids. My Wife and I are planning to move to Spain and we are looking to enroll our kids in the Spanish PUBLIC school (Valencia or Alicante). They are right now in a North American English system. One is in Grade 2 and the second will be her first year in Kindergarten. We have some concerns if there will be any language challenges (mainly for the Grade 2 one) to adapt quickly with the teacher, and her classmates and struggle during that transition from English to Spanish education system. Please provide your thoughts and experience on that.


These are the answers of some Facebook group members:

“We moved to Valencia prior to our daughter entering third grade. We had planned the move for years so had her in Spanish classes, tutoring, Duolingo, and a language immersion school in the US since she was two. She is enrolled in an English speaking school here, but has Spanish as a class and is part of a local swim team. We’ve been here eight months and she has a challenging time if people are speaking quite quickly, but can have conversations with her teammates pretty well. All that to say, I would encourage you to find ways for them to start learning Spanish now to lessen their stress and give them some foundation to build on. By most accounts, they’ll adapt quickly even without preparing, but I think some prep is worth it. ETA She also has one class a week in Valenciano per state requirements. We’re looking at it as a way to expose her to another language without much pressure to be fluent. She is interested in learning French which is available to her next school year, so establishing language patterns is probably beneficial.”

“It depends on the school but expect in Valencia that some percentage of the lessons will be taught in Valenciano as well.”

“I would look in a region that doesn’t require teaching of the local language, so that she’s only having to learn one, in addition to all of the other changes.”

“I know you said public, but have you also considered concertados? We don’t pay tuition, and we are very happy there. Kids are in 5th and 4th (would have been 5th and 3rd in the US). Their classes are 100 percent Spanish (with the exception of some English time, but it is very easy…and French for the oldest). They’ve adapted well to their teachers and classmates. I think this all also depends on the city, school, teacher, classmates, and kids (like in the US). Every situation is unique. We ruled out Valencia because of also learning the local language. Our kids did have Dual Language in the US (K-3 for the oldest and K-1 for the youngest), but even if they didn’t have that…I wouldn’t have chosen an “easier” transition for them. Kids do better than adults most of the time. We are in Granada.”

“We are also planning on moving to the Valencia area with our daughter who will be in 2nd grade. I contacted the principal of the public school we are hoping to enroll her in, and she told me that they offer accommodations for children who come from other countries. For example, she won’t be required to be evaluated and will receive language classes. The school also has some subjects in English. I am a teacher in the US who works with English language learners and I feel like kids at that age have less trouble adapting and learning a new language than older kids would. Good luck!!”

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