This summer, just before the kids wen back to school, we went on, what I can only describe as, a ‘proper’ Spanish holiday. I honestly didn’t think these existed anymore! When we go to Spain, we all tend to holiday at the resorts lining the southern coast or reside on the Balearic Islands, as we did at the beginning of the summer this year when we went to Alcudia, Mallorca. A more cultural Spanish holiday or weekend city break may be to Madrid or Barcelona but at any of those destinations, you will never be far from an English speaking local or an Irish bar! We recently visited friends who have moved to Spain for two years as part of a temporary company transfer, they’re currently based in Northern Spain, just above Portugal in a coastal town called Baiona. Gady is not only a dear friend but also our ‘maestra de español’ (Spanish teacher) so the visit was also planned to gain practice speaking and understanding Spanish as well as spending time with friends!
J was always keen that the children learnt to speak Spanish because of its importance in business and global trade. We both agreed that the children needed to be exposed to different languages as early as possible and that there was no way we were going to wait until they were in secondary school (the only time they have the possible option of being taught Spanish). I’m still amazed at the fact that this country insist on teaching French in primary school, the education system here is in the dark ages in so many ways. I use the term ‘teach’ very loosely, as all they seem to do is colour in pictures during French lessons anyway!!
I met Gady when our children were at pre-school together and they all began lessons, with the boy attending a mother and toddler class at age 2! The classes were amazing, they cooked, conducted science experiments, created art and crafts, played and sang- all in Spanish! There was not a text-book in sight and they loved it! Soon, the girls were becoming competent in understanding while their speech was also beginning to develop. At this point, I realised the consequences of my actions and that soon the girls would be able to converse in a language that I didn’t understand. I panicked and booked a lesson! I’ve never looked back. Though I was slightly disappointed at first that my lessons weren’t quite so practical and that we weren’t going to be baking cakes and painting pictures each week (boo!), I found it liberating to be using my brain again in a way that I hadn’t for so long! It seems that you can indeed ‘teach an old dog, new tricks’!!
So, back to our trip, Northern Spain is beautiful! We flew into Porto and drove 90 minutes north to Baiona, through miles of picturesque countryside. Baiona itself, is a large bay with a port and gorgeous sandy beaches, rocky areas ideal for spotting sea creatures and nature trails around the coast and up into the hills. The view from their house was exquisite! Imagine waking to this every day.
No wonder the Spanish are so laid back! Why rush? I don’t think I’d get anything done if I had to walk past this window every morning!!
There was however, plenty to do and see. We took a day trip to Islas Cies, an island just off the coast which is a nature reserve boasting the best beach in the world! The 40 minute ferry trip was exciting in itself for the children, then we spent the day discovering the island’s natural beauty, lizard spotting and watching huge fish swim in the protected, crystal clear waters. The kids climbed and played on the beach, while we relaxed and enjoyed the tranquil atmosphere. Heaven!
Other days were spent kayaking, body-boarding and rock-pooling. There was a different beach, offering different activity possibilities for every day! Some calm and flat like a mill-pond, some breezy and wavy, many golden and sandy, and most with rocks around the edges, ideal for spotting small sea-dwelling creatures. The kids were in their element!
While enjoying all these activities, we were also immersed in the Spanish language, with many people speaking little English. I felt far more confident to speak here, knowing that they didn’t understand English. I’ve felt really self-conscious in the past, in Spanish hotels where they speak good English and have been embarrassed to try. Being completely surrounded by the language, improved my understanding and ability to comprehend enormously, something that I just don’t get enough of in the UK. Though I have continued with weekly lessons over Skype, I have been unable to find suitable classes for the children in Gady’s absence. During the holiday, the children remembered and picked up where they left off, which I need to continue with until she returns to the UK in March next year. Eventhough, they have had some time without lessons, starting early has certainly improved their ability to learn a language and K especially has retained a lot of what she has learned.
Have you considered learning a language as an adult? Are your children learning a second language? Do you think there should be more focus on language learning in primary schools? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
32 thoughts on “Why We Are Learning Spanish as a Family”
It is so great you are learning Spanish as a family. Immersing the children in it is so much more productive than just the kids learning it and never getting a chance to practice it in other situations. #momsterslink
I think, in this day and age, it is very important to learn a second language. Good for you guys!
i forgot this #momsterslink
I speak French but I would love to learn Spanish, my eldest is doing it in school and I think as a family we would use Spanish far more than any other language due to foreign holidays. #momsterslink
Oh my gosh, this sounds like a dream holiday. I think language should be a much bigger part of schooling. I’m still bitter (at 30) that I was forced to take Welsh because I attended high school in Wales. I already knew I was not going to be living there once I was officially an adult, I wanted to learn a language that could actually be useful to me, but nope, they had to waste an entire slot of possible lesson time for my whole GCSE years forcing me to ‘learn’ a language that is only used really used in one tiny country. (Apparently also an area in south america uses it?… still…) #momsterslink
I really want my children to learn Spanish as well. I have thought about getting Rosetta Stone so that we can all learn as I have a feeling that at some point we will need to know it even living in a country that I’d prodominantly English. I love all your pictures. What a beautiful place to vacation. Thanks for linking with #momsterslink :))
Great! Good for you! I have it easy I guess since I speak English to the children and my husband speaks Spanish…so we are a bilingual family. I think it’s well worth the extra effort to take the lessons because knowing 2 languages opens up so many doors, not to mention your mind. Sounds like you’re having a blast! #momsterslink
I speak English and Dutch. After 11 years in Holland I would consider myself bilingual. Although I do still lack confidence at times and my conversation is limited in that there are certain topics I find difficult due to lack of vocabulary. I could talk all day about my kids or school stuff but politics no way. My kids have been raised bilingual. I think being immersed in the culture and language can take you so far but there comes a time when you also need some formal learning. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime ? I am super impressed that you are giving your kids this opportunity! There are so many proven positives to bilingualism.
Popping back to say Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT
Good on you – I would love to brush up on my French and think it’s lovely for our children to see us learning something new, making mistakes and struggling sometimes. I think it’s a great shame that languages are getting side-lined again…not just in primary schools, in secondary schools too. #ablogginggoodtime.
This is fantastic! I started learning Spanish when I was 7 but stopped when we moved. I picked it up again at 16 and studied for my A-Level because it was a language I just loved. I then spent my 3rd year of uni studying Maths in Granada, Andalucia so Spanish and Spain are now part of who I am. I really want my daughter to learn. I considered talking to her in Spanish but I don’t want to her to pick-up my errors. I have struggled to find classes though. You’ve inspired me to look again because the classes your kids went to sound amazing!
Good luck with your studying and if you ever fancy practicing your written Spanish then drop me an email (on my blog) 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG
Maybe I will! Don’t be afraid of your daughter picking up errors, just do it! Keep it basic, even if it’s just naming different items, asking her to put on her shoes or what she’d like to eat. Adios mi amiga! xx
Great idea and will be good for the kids! Little Bear is learning Swedish as were a bilingual family, but I found its possible, contrary to what lots of people say, learn languages much later in life so long as you can give it enough time. Hope it goes well. #earsleepblogrt
I think it’s great that you;re all learning Spanish! My husband is Puerto Rican and a native Spanish speaker, so we’re raising our daughter (kInd of) bilingual. We use a mixture of Spanish and English with her, since I studied Spanish in school and know a bit of it. We still expose her to more English than Spanish, but I’m hoping she picks up some Spanish along the way. #EatSleepBlogRT
I think that learning languages is so important, I love that you are doing as a family!
This is awesome! So wonderful you’ve started teaching them another language so early. I wish I was better with languages, the Hubby and I have every intention of learning a language in the near future and we’d definitely love our girls to learn too. North Spain looks stunning!! Thank you for sharing with #bigpinklink x
I think it’s a wonderful gift to your children if you can give them the opportunity to learn another language, and what fun doing it all together. For some strange reason, the British education system introduces second languages in secondary school, as you say, while many other countries are doing so in Primary school or even Nursery. It’s like waiting until children are 11 to introduce Reading, or Maths. That wouldn’t be considered appropriate, I’m sure, so why treat second/third languages like that?
I’m a Spanish teacher, with some challenging adult students at the moment. I have started a small blog to see if I can help a little with the grammar. As I am limited to the written word here on my blog, so I’m “teaching by examples”.
Please take a look and see if you think it could be useful to anybody.
Thank you- I will! Xx
I think it’s great to learn a language, My friend is a french teacher and gave lessons to pre-schoolers. My daughter used to go to a lesson every week and it’s amazing how quickly children can pick it up. Sarah #FabFridayPost
Firstly, this post has made me yearn for summer and a holiday! What a lovely place to visit. I have been trying to learn German but finding it very difficult, hubby seems to be taking it all in and finding it pretty easy! x #FabFridayPost
Spain is country you can fall in love easy !
I leave you my post about celebration of New Year’s Eve in Madrid
Thanks for reading! I have read your post and commented on it! I have also spent many new years in Spain xx
thank you 🙂 It was just a pleasure to read it 🙂 I wish you a lot of great New Year’s Eve celebrations in the future 😀
Super cool! I’m not a mom yet, but I have every intention of raising my students to be bilingual (my husband and I are learning the language together). I recently bought some Spanish/English children’s books for my own learning and future kids’ learning! 🙂
Great! It’s certainly a worthwhile activity- we are enjoying it!! Xx
Continue to post more about your activities and progress! It’s something I’m looking to do in the next couple years, so I’ll be reading your ideas
Will do! We are off to Chile soon for my brothers wedding! Some of his girlfriend’s family don’t speak any English so it’s going to be testing our Spanish!! Wish us luck!! Xx
English and Spanish are my native languages. I started learning French as an adult. Once your family becomes fluent in Spanish, you’ll notice how easy it is to learn other Romance languages like French, Italian, or Portuguese!
Yes! I learned some French at school and have found that has helped with the Spanish! Thanks for reading x
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