How do kids transition from English to Spanish education?


Any families with elementary age kids in Málaga or surrounding areas? How was the transition from English to Spanish education? My son (7) is nervous. We have our lease set for December. Almost all paperwork is done (waiting on FBI Apostille).


These are the answers of some Facebook group members:

“Maybe it’s not too related to what you’re asking but we have two girls (almost 4 and 2). They both speak english and spanish ( my husband is from CA and I’m from Malaga). If you ever need help with anything… let me know! we live in Malaga. About school ,I’m a teacher, kids are really friendly here, and within the first week, he’ll have already friends even if his spanish is not really advanced, but it’s normal that he’s nervous… if you ever want to meet so he can practice his spanish, let me know and we can set up a play date”

“We are up north in Basque Country but I can tell you about our kids. I suggest you ask your son what he is nervous about. Months before the move the kids were saying they didn’t want to go to Spain. We kept dismissing it because we were definitely moving. But then we decided to sit down and have a real talk with the kids about their concerns. They were worried about missing their friends, then making new friends in Spain they’d have to move away from later.

We arrived 8 weeks ago today. Our boys are 10 and 12. They both had their birthdays here. The older one is very social, easy-going, flexible, willing to try anything, and has tons of friends. The younger one is the opposite. He’s a homebody, wants to stay home and play Lego and Minecraft all day, doesn’t want to try new things, is very emotional, and has a few good friends. He has said several times that he doesn’t want to be here. This is a huge move for anyone. We are planning to stay in Spain for a few years then return to California.

The surprising thing is, our younger son is the one who has been going to the cafe down the street for his morning pastry, went to the market for batteries for his Lego, goes to the plaza to play fútbol with the kids he doesn’t know, and yells “hola” down from our flat to the kids at the skate park across the street from our building. He has gained a lot of confidence quickly. We even let the kids take the metro train home together from Bilbao without us last week. We’ve been on the metro every day for 3 weeks so they are now confident about which train to take in which direction. We are sure to praise the kids for their confidence and good decisions. We also offer plenty of downtime with reasonable limits on screen time. Saturday is the day they play video games online with friends in California, Canada, and a few other states. With the time difference they are usually playing for a few hours in our evening. It’s not just game time; it is social time. A friend helped me realize that online gaming is one way kids socialize now.

The kids are not super happy about learning Spanish but I can tell they are soaking it up. They came home last night at 10pm from the skate park and told us about the bad words the kids were teaching them in Spanish. I’m not upset about it. At least they are learning some Spanish and talking to more kids. 

Our younger son actually has a great accent.

School starts on Wednesday and I think they are excited to make some more friends.We haven’t had much of a routine for 3 months of summer which has been nice but I think the structure of a school day will help them feel more normal. The kids like DuoLingo. For a few months before we left California, we had a Spanish tutor come every week or two for an hour. It wasn’t much but it was a nice little bit of exposure and pretty much all they would tolerate. Our older son took Spanish for one year in 6th grade.

For the past 3 weeks we have all been in intensive Spanish classes in Bilbao. The boys were in their own class with a teacher. They did worksheets and walked around Bilbao with their teacher. I’m sure they played a lot like at parks and the Guggenheim. But it was 4 hours a day on weekdays. At least they are not afraid to try to use some Spanish around town. Kids soak up languages so fast so there’s no reason to worry. Today is our last day of these classes. The kids will have Spanish classes at school. And Castellano is the dominant language at school. ”

“My younger sister was 7 when we moved here…..she was the first to speak Spanish and have friends… within a year bilingual. After the initial angst about moving, once they are here, make friends etc, they probably will love it. It’s safer and that gives more freedom.”

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