Children and new language

(27 Posts)
wherewhere Thu 15-Sep-16 14:16:36

For those of you who moved overseas with children around the age of six, how long did it take them to learn the new language - if they were in a school where they didn't speak English?

OP’s posts: |
IcecreamMachine Thu 15-Sep-16 14:35:05

Mine were 7 and 9 and it took them about 9 months to speak well. They didn't get any extra help at school although everyone was very friendly and it was hard at first but once they made a few friends they picked it up very easily. We did get someone to come to the house to help them with homework but now after 2 years their teachers say that they are at the same level as their classmates. I know this is just one experience and it won't be the same for everyone but for us it has been a very positive experience smile

wherewhere Thu 15-Sep-16 14:42:39

Thanks, that's reassuring smile He will be starting Year 1 next September in the new country (Year 1 this September here!) and school isn't compulsory for him until then. We will be moving there in March, so he'll have a six-month summer holiday, during which time I intend to get him involved in clubs and things, so hopefully by the time he starts school he'll at least understand something!

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IcecreamMachine Thu 15-Sep-16 14:56:24

Good luck, I'm sure he'll be fine. We tried to keep everything as positive as possible and make it into an adventure. It was horrible leaving them at school that first day but I think I felt worse than they did.

sofato5miles Thu 15-Sep-16 15:04:20

My british friends have recently moved to Amsterdam and put all 3 primary children (9,7,4) into the dutch school system. 1st term tough, 2 term easier 3rd term pretty much bilingual.

MyBreadIsEggy Thu 15-Sep-16 15:04:44

I was 5 when we moved to the UK, and I didn't speak hardly any English - I could say hello, tell someone my name....that was about it.
It took me around 6 months to understand and speak well enough to get by, and by my second academic year, I was pretty fluent. And my dad finally decided it was probably a good idea to speak English to me and my sister at home hmm only 5 years too late dad!

naturalbaby Thu 15-Sep-16 21:31:09

My kids started school in Feb and when I heard them really speaking the new language after the summer holidays. Ds1 was in year 1 at the time of the move. I had been watching youtube videos with them in the new language for a couple of months before the move - the Muzzy language course. Not sure how much it helped because of the dialect here though.


paap1975 Fri 16-Sep-16 14:31:45

It will only take a few months. You'll be amazed (and he'll be correcting you in no time)

wherewhere Fri 16-Sep-16 14:44:28

All of this is great to hear - thank you so much!

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wherewhere Fri 16-Sep-16 14:44:33

All of this is great to hear - thank you so much!

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Amalfimamma Fri 16-Sep-16 14:52:36

If you're moving in March and starting school next September you could start them now on new language. Some listening and maybe the grammar basics so that they, and you, are not completely lost when you get there.

wherewhere Fri 16-Sep-16 15:36:15

Yes - we've started lessons once a week, and I'm considering limiting tv to only in the new language . . .

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Amalfimamma Fri 16-Sep-16 15:44:42

Can you download books in new language to consolidate reading and Pronunciation? TV is also a good route so they get to hear new language more.

Don't worry because if they have the basics once they get here it'll be easier for them to fit in and learn quicker

ChilliMum Fri 16-Sep-16 15:48:28

My dd was 6 when we moved and started school in the September with none of the language (we did try but she just didn't get it - she just made up words and thought she was speaking the language grin) . She understood fairly well within a few months but didn't speak much all year.
The following September she started back at school and was chatting away within a few weeks!
I am told this is quite common. Some children need to process the language before they can use it.
At 6 your ds has plenty of time to learn and (my biggest worry) having little in the way of language was no barrier to my dd making friends.

fussychica Fri 16-Sep-16 19:02:28

My DS was 10 when we moved. He went to a state school. He had a year and a term in primary before moving to secondary by which time he was pretty fluent. A six year old would be faster, just remember to keep their English up to scratch at that age, particularly reading or it will wither on the vine. Good luck.

StMary Fri 16-Sep-16 19:11:09

Watching with interest as we'll be moving to a new language soon! DC will be 2 and 5 so I'm concerned about my older one really....

Amalfimamma Sat 17-Sep-16 07:30:29

I was thinking late last night about this 'problem' and thought I'd also suggest trying to find out what books DC will be using in Y1 at the new school and to see if it's possible to download the consolidation worksheets from the Internet. I know for example here in italy there are extra worksheets online that parents and / or teachers can use if they feel DC need it.

It may help give DS, and you, an insight of what to expect in Y1

wherewhere Sat 17-Sep-16 07:45:01

Good idea - thanks!

OP’s posts: |
Amalfimamma Sat 17-Sep-16 07:51:48

Try to go onto the schools website and see if they have this year's booklist, it normally doesn't change, then look for the book within the publishers website and you'll find the worksheets. Good Luck!

Katsite Tue 20-Sep-16 21:28:47

We arrived in August when my DDs were 5 and the teachers told us that by Christmas the worst would be over and that was how it was. They didn't speak perfectly but they weren't lost anymore.

Do cut them some slack in the beginning. It is hard work to learn and acquire a new language at the same time.

BeatrixBurgund Fri 23-Sep-16 16:26:05

We had a lot of people say 'oh, they'll be fluent by Christmas', and I have to say that was really a load of rubbish. By Christmas, as Katsite said, they understood enough to get by, to get around school and they understood a lot. They were definitely not fluent!

Not trying to worry you, but best to manage your expectations. By the end of the first year, they were starting to chat to other kids in French. By end of second year, the teachers said they were almost at native speaker level.

When you are teaching them a bit in advance, concentrate on basics like 'where is the toilet', and 'can I go to the toilet', 'I have tummy ache', 'I don't feel well'... that kind of thing. So that if there is a problem, they can ask for help. We taught lots of stuff like colours, which was fine but not really very helpful!

PinkPlastic Wed 28-Sep-16 12:11:09

I agree Beatrix.

We have been here 5 years, DCs are 7 and 4. We are in a local school and the only English speakers in the school and eldest DC is NOT fluent.

She speak very well when chatting to her friends, her teachers etc (and to my parents she sounds fluent) but she still makes grammatical errors when speaking to some adults and doesn't know every word. I feel like a bit of a failure when i read about kids being fluent within a year but i am being reassured that that isn't normally the case.

schokolade Mon 03-Oct-16 19:44:11

I made this move when I was 6, in year 2.

I won't lie, it was bloody hard. And so, so irritating when adults kept saying "it's so easy for kids to just pick it up". My extended family still says that now, drives me bonkers. A phrase to avoid (rant)...

It took me about a year to be confidently speaking. I know this quite accurately because we moved schools 10 months in, and I distinctly remember having no clue what the teacher in the new school was on about grin and being punished for breaking a stupid rule that I didn't know existed that she had apparently told me about. But after that move it didn't take long to click.

schokolade Mon 03-Oct-16 19:47:28

Sorry, posted too soon.

I have to agree with PinkPlastic though. We were never 100% fluent. We probably sounded fluent to our parents and non-speakers, but made grammatical mistakes. I now have a DH who is a native speaker, and I am still not at a native level.

morethanclueless Tue 04-Oct-16 09:43:06

We moved to France just over 2 years ago when my kids were 7, 5, 4 and 2. They spoke no French whatsoever and were put into a local schooI. I would say that they began to dare to speak their new language after around 6 months but it was still pretty basic, although I do think their comprehension was far better. By about a year they were chatting happily but it was still far from native. I have to agree with earlier posters that the acquisition of a new language is not as instant as everyone seems to think. I speak the language pretty well (but I would never say that I was fluent) and I can still hear my kids make grammatical mistakes fairly frequently. For example my elder two often struggle with knowing whether a word is 'feminine' or 'masculine' (as do I!)'. My daughter (9) was playing sport the other day with a group of boys and because the language is still not instinctive for her she addressed them as though they were girls. Of course no one bats an eyelid - everyone knows they are foreign.

Good luck with your move!

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