Moving abroad with DC who don't speak the language?

(31 Posts)
NoMoreMrRight Tue 22-Sep-15 21:21:37

* x-posted under Teens *

Divorced now for two years with 3 DC; eldest is 13. I'm not a British citizen but from a Southern European country. Last two years since I left my marriage have been pretty challenging; no family/barely any close friends in the UK and struggling to deal with things on my own when things go wrong, like trips to A&E with one of the DC, falling ill myself etc. XH pretty useless even in worst emergencies, he just doesn't care.

I have made the decision therefore to move back home where my parents, siblings and close friends are for support. Younger DC are too little and will be fine, but eldest worries me. She kind of understands the language but doesn't speak it, and bilingual schools in my hometown are aplenty but too expensive for me to be able to afford them.

I guess I'm after some advice on how to best handle the situation with eldest, or whether you think I should just suck it up and stay here in the UK for her sake (which I have tried for the last two years but nearing breaking point after a especially challenging weekend where everything seemed to go wrong at once and I had no one to call for help). I feel really guilty for thinking about moving but I feel run down, lonely and finding it really difficult to cope with things.

Thank you in advance for any comments.

Wearyheadedlady Tue 22-Sep-15 22:00:51

If you stick her in a local school when you get back you can be sure as eggs is eggs that she'll be fluent by the end of her first school year.

Go for it. sounds a much better deal than the one you're getting.

And good luck.

NoMoreMrRight Tue 22-Sep-15 22:09:41

Thank you Weary. I'm concerned though about what happens during that school year though, wouldn't she be failing all tests etc because she can't understand a word in class, putting her a year behind? And friends, how can she make friends if she can't speak the language? (this is a country where people are notably bad at speaking English).

Wearyheadedlady Tue 22-Sep-15 22:26:11

It will be tough but I expect she will have a good grasp of it after only a few months. And if you know ahead of time that you're definitely going, you can start working on it with her.

I had a friend who came from Sweden to the US speaking zero English. They put her back a grade but by the middle of the year she was fluent and they had to put her ahead a whole year and a half because she was doing so well (and they hadn't been able to assess her). So it can be a lot of changes, but all moving in the right direction, if that makes sense.

NoMoreMrRight Tue 22-Sep-15 22:30:33

Thank you. I know it all makes sense and moving is the best option but just struggling with how hard it's going to be for her, especially with her being so painfully shy sad

InternationalEspionage Tue 22-Sep-15 22:33:33

You'll be fine to move, I reckon. You can start familiarisig eldest with the language tomorrow (I assume this is your native language) by speaking it and hooking them up with duolingo to rapidly build confidence.

NoMoreMrRight Tue 22-Sep-15 22:39:11

I've never heard about duolingo before but just googled it... it looks really great! Thank you for the tip, and all the great advice smile

overthemill Tue 22-Sep-15 22:41:23

Duo lingo is great and another thing is to play the local radio from 'home' all the time now - you will find it online

NoMoreMrRight Tue 22-Sep-15 22:56:45

Good idea... I already play it in the mornings in my bedroom using TunedIn, will start playing it all over the house from now on wink

BoboChic Wed 23-Sep-15 12:01:59

I expect your eldest DC has a massive passive knowledge of your language that you underestimate. At school she will activate really fast. Her starting position is not at all similar to that of a DC who has had no exposure to a language. Plus you will be surrounded by family and friends who can help her with schoolwork, presumably, to start off with.

Something similar happened to a relative of mine when she moved to the US, speaking only French. Her father is English and within 3 months it had all been activated. She graduated from a fabulous US university!

NoMoreMrRight Wed 23-Sep-15 12:39:15

Thanks Bobo, that's very reassuring to hear and you're right; I speak in Spanish to her younger sisters all day and she certainly understands that. Her grammar might be an issue but I'm happy to work on that with her...

BoboChic Wed 23-Sep-15 12:44:17

Spanish is probably the easiest language for an English speaker to catch up with in the circumstances - the spelling is really straightforward. I expect, with your support, that she'll be fine.

NoMoreMrRight Wed 23-Sep-15 14:06:59

Fingers crossed! She goes into meltdown mode every time I mentioned that I'm seriously considering for us to move back to my home country so it's not going to be an easy task to get her on board, Spanish or no Spanish confused

BoboChic Wed 23-Sep-15 14:19:09

I'm sure she does. Probably best to be quite matter of fact about it and present it as a fait accompli. Children don't decide where their family resides.

NoMoreMrRight Wed 23-Sep-15 14:34:55

You're right. I'm counting on the fact that we would be moving mid next year (hopefully, the move will involve a battle through the court with my XH who doesn't really see them/cares about them but has made it very clear I am not to leave the UK with them) so still quite a few months for her to get used to the idea.

Just thinking that she'll be able to grow up with all her cousins and my friends kids etc which would be great.

mrsmortis Wed 23-Sep-15 15:03:56

In the meantime can you have one of her cousins over to visit for a couple of weeks (assuming that they are the same age?)

NoMoreMrRight Wed 23-Sep-15 15:27:55

They are a lot younger ... and no room at home sadly!

jenpetronus Thu 24-Sep-15 17:34:26

Also, consider how difficult it would be to move in a few years time when your younger DC's are older and faced with the same problem. I think on balance I would go for it. If you are happier your DC'S will be too imo.

fussychica Thu 24-Sep-15 23:00:36

I'd go for it but expect it will be difficult for your eldest at that age when there are so many changes going on physically,mentally and how strong their friendship ties are. She will need your support. We went when our DS was 10 and he settled quickly but I wont lie, those who moved over with teenagers had far more issues. Good luck, it wont be easy but it sounds like its for the best.

tomatodizzymum Fri 25-Sep-15 14:25:20

Go for it. We moved from the UK to Brazil two years ago. My children are 12, 10, 6 and 3 and fluent, they barely understood Portuguese as it was their fathers language and we didn't/don't speak it at home. I wouldn't worry too much about the grammar, as I think me trying to explain the conjugations before we left caused my oldest son a little confusion. He got the hang of them in the same way as a native would, also they are now studying them in school anyway.

wannaBe Fri 25-Sep-15 14:40:44

I was younger but when I was nine we moved to South Africa. i went to an almost entirely Afrikaans speaking school, not only that, it was a boarding school, so I didn't have my family on hand to speak English to. Suffice to say, I am entirely bilingual even twenty years after coming back, took all my subjects in Afrikaans, and spoke it as my first language while out there. Children do learn fast, and if Spanish is your native language and she hears you speak it she most likely has a grasp of it already even if she doesn't realise it.

But tbh, I would be far more concerned about moving a fourteen year old away from her native language, country, friends etc at a time in her life when these things are important and when she's about to head into GCSE's etc. If your xh is likely to contest the move is it possible she would opt to stay here with him? This is IMO something you would need to consider

NoMoreMrRight Sat 26-Sep-15 00:53:15

Thank you all, it's very reassuring to hear that the language might not be such a huge issue as I anticipated. It will be hard of course but with my support things will hopefully work out in that regard.

She's 12 now and will be 13 next year. The school system is my country is completely different, the main test is taken at 16 to allow access to Universities; before then school years have exams at the end of the year but not anything similar to GCSE's.

Re her choosing to stay with my XH... well she did ask him already. And no surprise there but he said no to her. He's not the best of fathers complete waste of space so it was expected; she's already saying that she's not going anywhere and that she'll stay behind and live with a friend confused. She is going to hate me but I just have to live with that, this really is the best possible move for our little family. I am expecting a difficult battle through the courts as well (XH has made that very clear already) and will be talking to my solicitor about whether her being reticent to move might affect the outcome of the case, taking into account that she'd have nowhere to live.

All incredibly stressful already, and the whole process hasn't even started yet sad

NoMoreMrRight Sat 26-Sep-15 00:55:01

Sorry forgot to say ..... also there's no way I would allow for my DC to be separated from each other. We're a very tight unit (no one else here!) and I intend for things to stay that way, no matter what.

Lweji Sat 26-Sep-15 01:06:50

My son moved countries a lot younger but it has been great to see him with his cousins and close family.

You have time to prepare the move and I'm sure she will be fine in a short time.

PressTheAButton Sat 26-Sep-15 01:12:37

I don't think the language issue is the biggest problem. Are you sure you can afford any of the bilingual schools or could you live in an area where there are more bilingual kids.
Have you and the kids spent a lot of time there? Summer holidays etc?
How is your DD academically? We have moved a lot and althoughtvtherexare loads of amazing examples of kids learning second languages it doesn't always work as well as you would want. Some kids really struggle.
13 is a tricky age.

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