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Any experience of billingual primary with only English spoken at home?

(20 Posts)
SoniaShoe Tue 08-Dec-15 09:49:32

We have an opportunity for my daughter to go to a english/Spanish billingual primary school.

It's a wonderful primary school regardless of the language element so I'm seeing the Spanish language lessons as an added advantage. But both myself and my DPHIL are English and don't speak Spanish at home. I'm concerned this could be confusing for her and may hinder her other learning.

Does anyone have any experience or knowledge in this area?


Mehitabel6 Tue 08-Dec-15 22:34:12

I don't have any experience but I think that you and DH need to start taking Spanish lessons too.

MrSlant Tue 08-Dec-15 22:36:32

My DC's are being educated bilingually in a language I don't speak. It only became an issue when their homework got hard in secondary school and I had to hit google translate pretty constantly if I wanted to help! (Tried to learn but languages are most definitely not my strong point).

originalmavis Tue 08-Dec-15 22:37:44

Are you in Spain?

SoniaShoe Wed 09-Dec-15 09:24:38

thanks for the responses. DPHIL was an autocorrect for DP btw.

no i'm in england, so its quite a rare opportunity. it would only be until year 6. most of the children are not from spanish speaking homes. we would like to learn it but i'm sure we wouldn't learn at the rate of our DD.

mrslant its interesting you've had the same experiences. did your DC find the rest of their learning went ok despite this new language being spoken?

noramum Wed 09-Dec-15 13:09:29

DD grows up bi-lingual as DH and I are both German. So we know how much input you need to do to really learn a language so fluently.

I would ask the school (is it already existing for a while) what their experiences are with parents who do not speak the language. How much help is really required at home? How much is actually taught in Spanish? Is Spanish the mothertongue of the teacher?

A friend in Germany sent her DD to a German/English bi-lingual primary and they were taught in English by native speaker in all subject apart from German literacy, Maths and RE. Maths swapped after 2 years from German to English. The girl now speaks English like a native but the mother confirmed they had to practice with her at home, control homework and work with her on projects. So the parents had to have at least some basic knowledge.

Yddraigoldragon Wed 09-Dec-15 13:14:14

Loads of children in Wales are educated this way, and it works well. They have no difficulty switching language depending on where they are or who they are with. Many do not speak Welsh at home.

Ancienchateau Wed 09-Dec-15 13:17:15

There is no doubt that going to a bilingual school requires a lot more work from both the child and parents. My own DC go to bilingual schools and we only speak English at home. It seems we spend an awful lot of time (more than when they were at monolingual schools) doing homework but 2 of them are at secondary school.

I imagine if most of the DC are not Spanish then the primary school you are considering will be more like an English primary school with lots of Spanish and, as most people will be in the same boat, it will be a fun, hopefully non-pressurised environment for your DC to learn a second language.

MrSlant Wed 09-Dec-15 13:21:21

Their whole education has been in Welsh up until secondary where they go to a Welsh medium secondary school but do Maths/Science in English which I thought was a good mix. They are doing really well in school passing all their exams in either language. There are lots of papers which show having a bi-lingual brain from an early age helps with lots of other areas of education not just languages. It sounds like a fantastic opportunity and with so much of the world speaking Spanish a great asset later in life.

hesterton Wed 09-Dec-15 13:26:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hesterton Wed 09-Dec-15 13:27:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SummerNights1986 Fri 11-Dec-15 21:18:00

I'm in Wales and out of the dc in a Welsh speaking school, the majority of them come from English speaking households with little or no Welsh spoken.

I know many parents whose dc are fluent in Welsh but don't speak it themselves - speaking the language would be beneficial but is not necessary.

confusedandemployed Fri 11-Dec-15 21:21:59

I'm a fluent Welsh-speaking child of non Welsh speaking parents. I remember absolutely no difficulties whatsoever during school, and I did A levels through the medium of Welsh. I was one of the more able pupils in school - however even the less able pupils had virtually no problems with the two languages.
I would strongly encourage bilingualism if you have the opportunity to provide it for your DC.

ChiefClerkDrumknott Fri 11-Dec-15 21:28:33

Like confused I'm a fluent Welsh speaker to English-only speaking parents. Went to Welsh Primary and Comp, educated up to the age of 18 in Welsh only. I picked it up quickly as a child and never had any problems and I am rubbish at languages! Children seem to be like sponges at picking languages up, I wouldn't worry too much about it smile

ChiefClerkDrumknott Fri 11-Dec-15 21:31:46

Oh and to add, I did well at school and went on to study English/Anglo-Welsh literature at university, and I think speaking a second language did me the world of good. I see being bilingual as a very positive thing, no matter what the language.

MrsSchadenfreude Sun 13-Dec-15 10:21:55

I think it will only work if a good number of the children have Spanish as their first language. A friend sent her daughter to a bilingual (English/French) primary school in Brussels, and she learned no French as there were virtually no French speaking children there, so the language in the playground and when the children talked among themselves was always English. But when there is a good mix of children, it works really, really well.

sparechange Sun 13-Dec-15 10:25:27

I have some friends who send their DC to a bilingual French- English primary
Very few parents are fluent French speakers but the parents are expected to make an effort to learn French and 'be supportive' of learning about France and French culture.
In practice, it means they always go on holiday to France, and take their children to French restaurants (chains, not fancy places!)

Want2bSupermum Sun 13-Dec-15 10:31:30

I'm in the US and in my town there is a school like this. We have looked into it and found that the classes are not 100% spanish the whole way through the school. The first 2 years are about 80% spanish and then it drops down each year. This structure enables children from non spanish speaking homes to properly learn Spanish while still having the majority of their homework past the first couple of grades to be in English so parents can help.

SucculentsRock Sun 13-Dec-15 10:34:10

My kids go to a gaelscoil(an Irish speaking school) and I don't have any Irish beyond the basics, my dh doesn't speak it at all. My ds is 8 now and is pretty fluent, my 5 year old is doing well. There have been no issues, at home we speak English, when they step through the gates of the school they switch to Irish.

PettsWoodParadise Sun 13-Dec-15 18:01:27

We have a popular state bilingual primary near us called La Fontaine. Virtually all the children are from English speeding families but the school is bilingual in French/English and it is a very personal choice. Some families steer clear as they see the bilingualism as a distraction which tends to mean those who do choose the school are all very committed and supportive of the ethos of the school and very happy with the opportunities their DCs get. Challenge is that this is rarely an opportunity that continues at senior school level and those who have been through the bilingual school find the basic French at secondary tedious.

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