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Marta SpanishConnection
SPANISH CONNECTION is a professional yet friendly school that offers Spanish tuition to adults and children of all levels using a comprehensive method carried out by highly qualified teachers.
SPANISH CONNECTION is a professional yet friendly school that offers Spanish tuition to adults and children of all levels using a comprehensive method carried out by highly qualified teachers.

Marta's posts

In the years I have been in the language teaching sector I have had many conversations with Spanish speaking parents who tell me they face 'obstacles' and sometimes frustration in implementing and keeping Spanish as a second language a priority at home.

I have now come to the conclusion that parents  have very positive results in their children understanding everything when they are talked to in Spanish but at the same time they all share the frustration of their children only wanting to answer to them in English.

I would like to share some tips that I hope would help in the implementation of a daily routine of conversing (developing all the linguistic skills: speaking, comprehension and when ready reading and writing) with the children in Spanish. Before all that I would ask parents to  always keep in mind that the process of implementation of a second language in the home is not necesarily something spontaneous but a rather it is a discipline that takes years of dedication.

1. General Experiences
There certainly exists a dilemma for Spanish speaking parents who raise their children in a different country.

In my experience, not just as a parent but as an educator, by not giving up talking in Spanish to my children and making it into part of the family daily routine they have become not only bilingual but also grateful.

Most families start the process of raising a bilingual child as early as when the child is born. It seems to me that instinctively we start talking to our children in Spanish and communicate naturally with them without a need for any further teaching strategy.

The children seem to understand and respond in their baby manner indistinctively to both the English and the Spanish speaking parent. However, once they reach the age when they are able to produce some words and basic sentences, some Spanish speaking parents begin to perceive less reciprocity.

The child still listens and understands but prefers to speak in English. This turn of events catches some parents, most of whom have only spoken Spanish to their babies, by complete surprise. A Spanish father once said to me: “after 2 years of just talking to her in Spanish, I never anticipated that my daughter’ first few sentences to me would turn out to be in English.”


2. Why do children respond in English
In my opinion the simplest answer to why children don’t respond in Spanish is likely to be that children in general are practical and don't necessarily see the need to speak another language other than the one they use at school.

Another reason may be the fear of being different from the rest. Although in London, being such an international city this is not a major issue, most children feel more integrated if there are no differences between them and the rest of their peers.

Lastly I think that if speaking Spanish turns into a task the child will put less of an effort into speaking it as it would then become an obligation rather than a way of communicating.

I normally suggest that parents try to implement a few practicalities that may be helpful in introducing Spanish as part of the children daily routines.

In my years of experience with Spanish Speaking families who end up living in London, I do believe that implementing a second language in the home is a matter of implementing a habit rather than creating another task for the child.


3. Creating Communicative Habits from Early Days
I normally suggest that parents try to implement a few practicalities that may be helpful in introducing Spanish as part of the child’s daily routine.

Depending on how long and how much exposure the child has had to the language there are various possible scenarios and maybe one of them reflects your circumstances:


            1)     From new-born to when the child starts saying their first words my advice would be for the Spanish speaking parent to try to talk only in Spanish.


            2)     After the first phase, the child will start coming in to contact with English speakers in their nursery or when they go out or even at the home of another parent etc. Again, in my opinion, the Spanish parent would continue       speaking in Spanish to the child and would ask them to reply in Spanish.


            2.a)   If the child doesn't want to reply: My advice is that the parent doesn’t get upset but instead tells the child that by speaking Spanish they will be able to speak when they travel to the country where their parent(s) is/are from. Also it is important to have books that come from the country of origin and tell the child that mummy or daddy used to read this when they were little (it is good to give them a hint of what the story is about.)


             2.b)   If the child replies but makes mistakes: I would advise to repeat the sentence correctly but slowly so that the child realises what has been said incorrectly.


            3)      If the parents have mixed English and Spanish and the child knows how to read and write in English and speaks mostly in English: Parents would need to change the routine and try to keep Spanish speaking separate.


I hope the above is useful but I am always very happy to have a chat if you wish to discuss your situation. At Spanish Connection we have a lot of different programmes that may suit your children and will also make them interact with other bilingual children. Please call 020 3651 09 49 for further information or write to us:

Kind Regards,

Marta Alvarez


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Posted on 22 Dec 2014

I hope you are all ready to enjoy the Festivities! In Spain today is the Loteria de Navidad and millions of people have been buying tickets (decimos) from mid year all over Spain. You can find these decimos at bars, cafes, supermarkets etc. People also sell them at work and they share the prize if they win.

The Spanish TVE launches a commercial every year to encourage people buy their decimo. This year the commercial was very well received and Spaniars are still talking about it; it goes as follows: The owner of a cafe organises a share for the number and one of the regular customers forgets to buy the decimo. But it has a happy ending, Click on the link to find out what happens:

You can check a little bit of the history of the Loteria de Navidad from the lotter blog.

We look forward to seeing you in January 2015!

Best wishes,


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Check out our Spanish Connection Language School Facebook page for a round of the Spanish alphabet with nice photos!
We resume with another round in the New Year 2015! and in the interim from the Spanish Connection team: FELIZ NAVIDAD and HAPPY NEW YEAR 2015 to you all!

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