One Year of School in Spain: the Kids’ Progress

One Year of School in Spain: the Kids’ Progress

It’s summer! For us as Finns the holiday started quite late, around the 20th of June. But the next school year will start around the 10th of September, so there’s plenty of time of doing nothing…or maybe even too much, we’ll see. The kids have now been at school for one whole term and so it’s time to write down how they’ve progressed in their studies and language learning during that time.


Isla started school in January, so she’s been at school 2/3 of the term. Before starting school she didn’t really speak any Spanish at all, just some rare words here and there. After starting school she rapidly started speaking “Spanish”, usually when playing alone. Her Spanish was mostly babbling Spanish-like words, some real words every now and then. As time went on I could hear more real Spanish compared to the beginning, even some sentences. Isla doesn’t always acknowledge that she’s speaking Spanish, or rather doesn’t know that the words that come out of her mouth have meanings. If I ask her that what did you just say (in Finnish), she cannot answer. And if I comment on something in Spanish to her, she doesn’t want to speak to me. I’m only allowed to use Finnish with her.

Kids, La Noria, Fiesta del agua.

Isla’s class getting ready for the water fiesta.

At school Isla still doesn’t speak in class and never says anything to her teacher (she’s still afraid of her). However, she speaks with her friends a bit while playing in the yard at school. Or maybe I should say with a friend, since she’s been playing with the same girl all the time (Tatiana). If Tatiana isn’t at school, Isla is very reluctant to go there at all and says that the other kids won’t play with her. She’s just so shy and doesn’t really take any contact to the other kids on her own. At this point Isla knows in Spanish (knows also the meaning): some animals (gato, perro, lobo, pajaro…), numbers 1-10, some adjectives (bonito, feo), some imperatives (toma, ven, vamos) and some other everyday words (gracias, no, si, pelicula, pelota, pipi, kaka, flores, mama, papa, hermana…).

Aquarium, Almunecar, kids.

Isla’s class on an excursion.

Isla’s report card was kind of the same as last time with the pictures and all, but there were also many different things graded. Once a again it was graded either “conseguido” (completed) or “en proceso” (in progress). According to the card, Isla: can recognise the parts of the head (mouth, nose, eyes…), can move her body parts, knows the concepts up and down and more or less, can wait for her turn, eats healthy (I wonder how they can see that…), can place things up or down, can draw different kind of lines (sharp, circles…), recognises colours, can dance and express herself. The things that are still in progress are: co-operative skills, concepts short and long, recognition of the forms (triangle, square, rectangle, circle), numbers 1-4 (I guess the recognition of the numbers since she can count well), describing the nature in the spring and in the summer, describing the elements of the nature (rain, sunshine…), animals, naming characters in the stories, knowing some poems by heart, commenting on pictures, speaking phrases while looking at pictures, different techniques of drawing and singing.

The biggest hinder for Isla’s progress is her shyness. If somebody talks to her in Spanish, she just looks down and wants to escape. It’s good that Isla has a friend at school though. She needs somebody to lean on while she’s there. There has been some bullying too, some bigger boys pulling her hair or scratching her. The teacher says she can’t observe everybody all the time. Earlier on I told about the problem of not going to pee at school. The problem still exists; she hasn’t used the toilet at school. She’s afraid of going there alone and afraid that other kids will come there at the same time. Once, she peed in her pants and the teacher had to change her. But only once. But all in all we are satisfied with Isla’s progress at school. The school system itself is just so much more harsh here than in Finland. Let’s see if she can learn to have more courage in the second grade of pre-school.


Luna has completed the first grade of primary now. Her favourites are still Crafts, P.E. and the extra Spanish in the smaller group, plus of course hanging in the yard during the break. Luna can communicate well in Spanish, she talks with her friends effortlessly and understands them too. Her vocabulary is good, but somewhat limited to everyday things. At church she’s sometimes having hard time understanding as they talk so fast and the vocabulary is so specific.

Kids, Biopark, excursion.

Luna with her friend on an excursion at Biopark, Fuengirola.

Luna can talk about the past, present and future, even though she doesn’t use some verb forms correctly, usually when talking about the past. For example she sometimes uses the third person singular form instead of first person singular or makes up new conjugations for the irregular verbs as if they were regular verbs. But she can make herself understood and isn’t afraid of talking which is good. She has an andalucian accent and sometimes corrects me if I say some words differently than her. Understanding short stories in Spanish is difficult for her even though she reads well. When she has reading comprehension homework I have to help her to understand. Otherwise she can now do her homework on her own now.

Luna’s report card was a really amazing surprise for us: excellent in all but one subject! I couldn’t believe my eyes at first! In the card there were all the grades, also from the two previous terms, so it was easy to make comparisons. Also all the grades were numbers, not words like in the previous reports, so it was a bit more accurate since the words include two numbers. For example “sobresaliente” (excellent) includes both 9 and 10.

Kids and balloons.

Our kids celebrating the end of term.

Luna had 10 in: Arts, Spanish, English, Maths and Behaviour. She had 9 in: Biology and Social Sciences and she had 7 in P.E. Maths and Spanish went 4 numbers up (from 6 to 10) and Arts, English and Behaviour 2 numbers up (from 8 to 10). Biology and Social Sciences went 1 number up (from 8 to 9). P.E went 1 number down (from 8 to 7) which we all wonder why since it’s Luna’s favourite and she’s good at running. I’ll have to ask for an explanation when the school starts again.

So we can be really proud of Luna’s progress at school. Now during the summer we are going to have some friends over so that she can keep on talking and practising Spanish with them. It’s always good for her to socialise a bit, otherwise she gets bored easily. We are also considering signing her up for a summer camp (daily from 10 to 14), maybe in August.

There are 2 comments for this article
  1. Kristin at 19:41


    I’m a Canadian-Swede and my husband & I would love to live in a warmer EU country for a year or so.

    I’m curious what you two do for a living? Do you both work in Spain?
    I may have the potential to continue to work remotely for my North American employer, and my husband is thinking of becoming a certified ESL teacher (‘english as a second language’ teacher).

    I’m interested in the area you are in because of the vicinity to the sea and mountains (we like to mountain bike).

    Are you still residing in Almuñécar?

    • admin at 21:10


      Yes, it is difficult to find a job here, at least with a good enough salary. That’s why most of the foreigners who come here work online. My husband develops Ipad games/apps and I do translations. We both work at home. Getting certified as an ESL teacher might be a good idea, but of course the salary is a lot lower than at least what I was used to in Finland (I was a teacher).

      At the moment we live in La Herradura which is a smaller town next to Almuñecar.

      Hope your dreams come true, we’ve enjoyed it here!


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