Hear The Kids Speak In Spanish -18 Months Living In Spain!

Can you believe we have been expats in Spain for 18 months?!  It is absolutely amazing how fast the time has flown by.  We are in “just normal life” here and for us Almuñécar has been the best place to live in Spain.  No matter where we travel, upon return, our choice is validated with that comfortable feeling of home.

18 Months Living In Spain – Hear the kids speak in Spanish

When it was just a dream

A few years ago, when a life of living overseas was just a dream, we felt we were lacking culture and good quality family time.  We wanted the kids to study Spanish more than what they were getting in their public school.  They would learn Spanish songs for kids, like colors in Spanish for kids, similar to learning our ABC’s.  We all remember those songs as adults as well, but it doesn’t help with conversation and to speak in Spanish in their daily life.

In addition, our travel was limited to the few weeks of vacation we received each year.  We would usually break it up into 1 week segments, so we could travel to more locations.  Of course, by doing this we also limited our time in each place.  It seemed we would just be getting into a routine and beginning to de-stress from the daily grind and then it was time to pack up from our vacation and return to work.  This just wasn’t enough for us, so we had to get pretty creative to make our dreams of living abroad with the kids come true.Many beaches in Almuñécar

Making the dream a reality

We scoured the web and found other families traveling full-time and realized the possibilities were there for the taking.  Our dreams were just within our reach.  After several in-depth family conversations and gleaning inspiration from others, we decided to commit to living the international life.  With this decision we had to dig deep to solidify why we wanted to do this and make clear goals.  Of course we wanted the kids to learn Spanish, so we chose from countries that speak Spanish.

Here is more info on our selection process:

How Much Did It Cost To Live In Spain For 1 Year?

Living Abroad 500 Days – Lessons And The Unexpected

No Schengen Visa Needed For Wagoners Abroad In 2013!

Our original plan for living abroad was to live in Spain for 12 – 24 months and we are just about there.  As with any plan, things can change and we have delayed the “return to the USA” bullet in our original goals.  Check out our new plans!

Frigiliana Spain - Quad Bikes Wagoners Abroad

Time to speak in Spanish

One of our options was to enroll the kids in one of the international schools in Spain.  There is a great international school here in Almuñécar, but they teach in English.  We wanted full Spanish immersion and felt it was best for the kids to have school in Spanish.  We have interviewed the kids along the way to let you hear their progress with Spanish.  Sometimes they were a little gun-shy and would freeze up a bit for the camera.  After 18 months, I hope you can see and hear the difference in their confidence when they speak in Spanish.  It turns out it isn’t actually limited to Spanish-speaking, they are far more confident in general.  The life of travel and culture has really just become part of their life and they now crave learning and experiencing new things.

For them Spanish is just like English, they can just think in Spanish and it is now second nature.  I am not saying there weren’t some frustrating moments along the way and of course, they are still learning.  In school they are right on par or above the rest of the class in their subjects.

Let the emotions run wild

I have to admit, I am overwhelmed with emotion when I hear them speak in Spanish.  Even as I type this, sitting in one of my favorite heladerias, sipping a coffee, surrounded by locals, I have tears running down my face.  I don’t care what they think or how I look, I am so proud of our children, our family and our accomplishments.  It is an amazing feeling to have a collective family dream and see it to fruition and beyond.

Here’s to 18 months living in Spain and to our future plans!


Check out our past interviews with Lars and Anya,
hear them speak in Spanish, and compare the difference.

More info on our Public School in Spain

Enrolling them was a breeze!  The kids love it.

Do you speak Spanish?  Do you want to learn to speak in Spanish?   Here are the tools we have used in addition to immersion.

36 thoughts on “Hear The Kids Speak In Spanish -18 Months Living In Spain!

  1. What a cute video! Your kids are adorable. This is such a great opportunity for them that they will definitely thank you for one day!

  2. Love hearing about learning languages outside of the school system. Australia is terrible at teaching second languages. Both due to teachers and the fact that we are so isolated. Hope we can pick up Spanish while here in Central America. Going well so far. Was it easy setting up house in Spain?

    • Hey James! It was no problem setting up in Spain. I was thinking they could use your culinary skills here! Your kids should pick up some Spanish in Guatemala for sure. Just make sure they play with the local kids.

  3. Hey Alyson, I love these questions! It was Spanish in particular. Spanish is so widely used within the USA and so many countries speak Spanish, we felt it was a valuable language to learn. In addition, it is part of their heritage as Alan is 1/2 Mexican. For us it was the first additional language for them to learn, with hopes of it helping with their future. That said, we have several others that are of interest and the kids want to learn more. They see the value in being able to communicate with others from around the world.

  4. Hey Heidi, I’m just wondering, what was it that made you so keen for them to learn Spanish? Was it Spanish in particular or just any second language?

  5. Hi there Emiel! Thanks for stopping by and for the comments. We love the life of travel. Their creativity and learning is amazing and priceless. I think the kids learn faster, because they don’t have all of the “stuff” ingrained in their minds saying it’s difficult or tough. They just do it! We can all learn from having that mindset.

  6. What a great achievement! I love the interview with Lars and Anya by the way; like they have never done anything else. 🙂
    This is one of the benefits of traveling (or staying abroad for a longer period of time) with kids. They are being influenced by impressions and the environment around them so quickly, they always seem to learn more quicker than we as parents do! One big Pro for traveling with young children!

    • Thanks Elena. That is the hope. I guess only time will tell. I love the post you have on the comment luv too! Confidence is one things our kids have gained with our expat adventure.

  7. They are speaking Spanish better than me! I wish I had been taught another language as a child!

    • Thanks Val! It is cool to hear their perspective. They don’t really remember too much of the “learning” as they just know it now. Fortunately or unfortunately we captured it all on video or in the blog along the way, so they can’t forget. 🙂 We will need to work hard on keeping their Spanish up once we leave.

  8. Can’t see the video here (but I think that’s due to our Burmese internet connection) but it’s so great that Lars and Anya can communicate so well with so many people! Total immersion is the best way to learn but wherever you decide to go next (CM or Penang) make sure they keep up their Spanish; I saw so many children come to my school in London from other countries and when they have to speak English all the time in school and don’t keep up with their home language it really suffers. Good work guys! 🙂

    • Hey thanks Andrew. Yes it is a bit of work to keep up the languages, but we are committed to doing just that. Fingers crossed we all stick to it. Thanks for your comment and support! 🙂

  9. oh, Heidi, this was a fantastic post…..having stayed there for almost two months, I feel as if I’m part of your whole process of providing the best opportunities for your entire family. I do so wish I were there right now enjoying life and all the fun/educational activities that you and Alan provide for the kids. I really miss just walking up and down the promenade and speaking with the vendors from Senegal and other non-locals. This makes me want to run out and buy an airline ticket today!!!

  10. Too cool! What a fantastic experience for your family and speaking multiple languages can open up a world of opportunity for your kids. And I think understanding different cultures nurtures an empathy for folks “not like us” and I’m all for that. Loved the video 🙂

  11. I commend you for giving your children the opportunity to become fluent in another language. When I was 9 (in 1963!), my parents took us to live in Mexico for a year. Doing so definitely wasn’t as common as it is now. We attended Mexican schools in Spanish, but we hung out with too many Americans. I forgot most of what I learned and started studying it again in high school and then was a double major in Spanish and history in college. I realized I wasn’t going to become fluent hanging out at my college in rural Massachusetts, so I found a program so I could study in Bogota, Colombia and live with a family there for a semester. This was hugely important. Spanish turned out to be an important life skill. I became a lawyer and was able to represent Spanish speakers in their native language. My early exposure to Spanish really helped with my accent. People think I’m from a Spanish speaking country—but not theirs 😉

    • Oh what a great story Suzanne. Thanks for sharing that. It really makes me feel good about what we are doing. We do feel more languages are key to the future. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  12. Thanks Sharon. Oh that is great for you. When are you heading to Mexico? Oh, I just love Mexico. You will pick it up no problem and I get what you mean with no other way to pick it up. We had the same situation and that is how this plan hatched in the first place. We just need to keep it up, even when we leave Spain. They have such good friends here now, so we are hoping to keep them using their Spanish via video chats and email.

  13. It is great to hear that your kids are progressing well with Spanish. We plan to live in Mexico when the kids are school aged for this goal. I so want them to be bilingual, but it’s hard to make this happen otherwise with both my husband and I being monolingual. We hope to also become bilingual while we are there!

  14. I have a brother who has lived in a number of countries throughout the world. His doing that has offered me an opportunity to visit and see a country through a different set of eyes. The fact that you were able to do that for your self and your kids is pretty darn cool. Having to learn a new language is a huge benefit as well. It will be an experience that will last you and your kids a life time. 🙂

    • Hi Susan, Thanks for stopping by. Yes, it has been wonderful. We have also enjoyed having family come visit as well. It all adds to the foundation of their lives, so hopefully it is beneficial later in life.

  15. Aw Thanks Melanie! Now you put a tear in my eye! I guess it is contagious like yawning. 🙂 We are proud of them and you too. Way to go. It is getting very sad to know that we will be leaving Spain in about 4 months. The plan is to return, so that is what makes it okay. We have fallen in love with Spain.

  16. That was brilliant-I have a tear in my eye! I don’t know who I was more proud of; Lars and Anya for speaking so well, or myself for understanding a little of it! 😉

  17. Thanks so much Christine. 🙂 It has been awesome and we just love it here. I only wish Alan and I would have picked things up as fast as the kids. I must admit, we didn’t “have” to, so that made a difference.

  18. What a wonderful post. It must be so rewarding to see the kids (and the family as a whole) blossom. Kudos to you all!
    p.s. love the Andalu

  19. Tom and I just watched this together and loved it, including the bloopers! They sure have grown up in the last 18 months. Loved how Lars stressed, “if you were a kid, you’d pick up the language fast” and then when Anya said, “especially if you are in school”. Also loved the ‘translation story” with Dad in the store.

    • Thanks Judy and Tom! We have fun making the videos and as you can see the kids make it fun. They do goof off quite a bit (well, Anya does), so it can take a while to film sometimes. I can’t believe how time has flown by and how much they have grown. I was watching some of the earlier clips and they looked so small.

  20. You should all be very proud. What an awesome accomplishment. And do I hear a hint of Andaloo accent? They sound like locals as far as I’m concerned!

    • Hey Buck, thanks! You bet we are all proud and oh yes they do have an accent. 🙂 Southern Spain! It’s just like trying to pick a place to live in the USA without an accent, tough doing.

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