Hola! Early years Spanish programme in Glasgow

In February 2018, Antonella Sorace visited Indigo Childcare in Glasgow to give a talk to parents and staff about bilingualism and language learning. They have recently launched a Spanish Programme, which is proving popular with both the children and the parents. We asked them some questions about their programme for our Spring 2018 newsletter.

  1. What are the aims of the Spanish Programme at Indigo Childcare?

At the Indigo group, we aim to offer outstanding quality of learning and play experiences for our children and families. In the geographical areas we operate in, it is particularly important that we are focused on closing the attainment gap. For our part that means ensuring we provide the highest quality of early years’ experience and exploring creative ways to strengthen the development of children. Our programme aims to:

  • Strengthen the development of general language and communication skills
  • Contribute to enhancing the confidence of our children, enabling them to better understand different cultures, communicate and engage with others from different environments and background, preparing them to take their place in the world as global citizens.
  • Build on children’s natural curiosity for sounds and words and improve their problem solving and critical thinking skills.
  • Encourage children and young people to actively seek comparisons between features of their first and second language.
  • Develop a culture of family and community learning where everyone is encouraged to be active participants through the Spanish programme.
  • Support children and young people in becoming active learners.
  1. What inspired you to set it up?

One of our Child Development Officers, Ruben Meza-Hernandez is originally from Mexico and a native Spanish speaker. The children are aware of the distinct differences in Reuben’s accent and are curious to find out about his trips home to visit family. Reuben is passionate about sharing his native language with the children but despite exploring a variety of avenues, he couldn’t find a programme that had been tailored to fit with our curriculum, relevant to early years.

He therefore decided following some research that he would develop the programme himself, establishing the relevant experiences and outcomes for our own Early Years Spanish Programme. This presented us with a unique opportunity of having a native speaker of the language, with a tailored early years programme, add that to the research evidence we know exists for children learning a second language in the early years and it was too good an opportunity not to invest in.

  1. What has the response been like from the children?

Our programme is founded on an ethos of learning through play so our children have embraced the learning, exceeding all expectations and engaging their parents in the learning too. We regularly receive questions from parents about pronunciation or specific vocabulary as a result of the home learning experiences that happen naturally. Most of our 3-5yr old are able to differentiate between the English and Spanish word, put together short sentences in Spanish and identify colours and numbers in Spanish.  In celebrating  successes the children take pride in their learning and are excited to showcase their Spanish to others.  During play and conversation, the children often ask Ruben for the Spanish word of many objects and it carries on into the lunch hall, where most children choose to select their lunch options in Spanish.

  1. How have parents responded?

We have a very positive response through our social media sites when we share anything relating to the Spanish programme.  Questions and comments on our Spanish Programme in our social media channels, regularly receive more likes and comments from parents than any other posts. We recently held a Spanish event for our families to showcase the learning and the benefits of learning an additional language. At the end of the evening we asked our families to complete an evaluation to which all responded that they would like to learn Spanish along with their children therefore we are now looking at ways of involving families and to take the learning further.

  1. What advice would you give anyone interested in doing something similar?
  • Do some research into the benefits of learning an additional language and be confident in its value, as we find that we still come across people who challenge the learning (the myth that it may confuse the first language).
  • Make sure you have clear aims and objectives to help you evaluate the progress and demonstrate the value your programme has contributed.
  • Get your staff team on board, without the support and enthusiasm from our staff team we would not be able to take the programme forward.
  • Involve stakeholders in our case children and families – they are key to our learning process, research shows how children learn best when their families are involved.
  • Above all MAKE IT FUN by adopting a learning through play approach.
  • Reach out into the community to find any relevant partners, perhaps native speakers etc that can bring the learning alive.
  • Connect with those who are already doing it and learn together – we’re happy to help!

Parents comments: (Spanish event)

“Thank you for a great night guys, was good to find out how the kids are learning Spanish and great to know how it can help them now & in the future! Thank you to all staff & especially Ruben who done fab!”

“It was a real eye opener to the work Ruben puts in. It is amazing what not only Ruben but Indigo are teaching our children from a very young age.  Something that as a working mum we don’t always get time to do because we are so busy”.

“Thank you for a really interesting evening. Both my kids are very lucky to have a place in a Nursery that is so invested in exploring new and interesting ways of learning. It is clear to see the hard work that has been put in by Ruben and the team”.

“It was absolutely fantastic. Very informative. I’m very proud that my child is part of Indigo nursery and has the opportunity to learn a second language with you all and as parents we will definitely encourage her learning Spanish at home.   Thank you to you all for your hard work and dedication”.