About a year ago I decided I really wanted my kids to learn Spanish. And what better way to learn a language than to go to the country that it's spoken and immerse yourself in it fully - WRONG!
They barely believed us when we told them first that I was taking them to Spain for a full school term to live. Their dad would stay at home and he'd come to visit. They were bursting with excitement and could barely wait until September. They went to a Spanish summer camp for a week in preparation. Then September came and with nerves on edge and suitcases packed we were off to Valencia. We had a few days to settle in and then they started school. We decided on a Spanish speaking school to ensure they had little opportunities to speak English. September's school day was only from 9am - 1pm, so had plenty of time to go swimming or head to the beach. However they found it hard. Although they made friends, not one of the friends initially had much English. They longed for their friends at home and the school day seemed endless to them. They understood very little of what went on in the classroom. To make matters worse, I personally have never come across an unlikable primary school teacher; until I met my girls teacher, and they really really disliked her too. The weeks rolled on and it was frustrating that they'd picked up very little Spanish. I started DuoLingo myself, so I had picked up more than they had after a month. Then the school day was extended 'till 4.30pm. This was near torturous for them. After a while I started bringing them for picnics at lunchtime to break up the day, which helped a lot. Although I loved the school (apart from that one teacher) and they gave the kids a few lessons in Spanish, by the end of Ocotber their Spanish was coming along so slowly that I decided it was time for one to three tuition and started lunchtime lessons to help them improve. Over the time there, we did however have some really amazing times. We met some great friends who were travelling like ourselves and their kids were also in school there. We all seemed to have a special bond - I guess when you're far from home going through the same intense experience as someone else, you bond quickly. Without those friends our experience just wouldn't have been the same. My girls also made friends with a little Spanish girl who lived next door. Friends and family from home came to visit and had a ball when they were there, but when the time came to say goodbye, the kids felt like they were saying goodbye forever. Time seemed to go so slowly for them over there. All in all, it was the most amazing experience and don't regret it for a moment. Although it was tough, it was a positive experience, while developing a love of Spain and the Spanish language. It's given the kids a life experience they'll never forget, teaching them resilience and helping them to mature. We all loved Valencia, and would recommended it as a place to live, but without more fluency, if bringing kids, I would strongly recommend either an international school or learning basic Spanish before going. Finally, if anyone is going to Spain I'd be happy to answer any questions as best I can. Best of luck too!