top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

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JHRandolph
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top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by JHRandolph » Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:47 pm

Hello,

My wife and I are moving to Santiago, and would really appreciate some advice on schools. I have read all of the school-related discussion threads on this forum, and have found plenty of guidance for English-speaking and bi-lingual schools (Santiago College, Nido, Grange, etc.)... but I'm still looking for a top (secular) elementary school that teaches primarily in Spanish.

My wife and I are looking for an immersion experience for our daughters (ages 4 and 6; both are fluent in Spanish and English). Ideally, we're looking for an international curriculum (Montessori, International Baccalaureate, etc.) conducted in Spanish in a non-religious setting (perhaps we're asking for a lot!). Can anyone recommend top schools that might fit this description in Lo Barnachea, Las Condes, or Vitacura?

Also, does anyone have specific experience with Colegio Huelquen in Lo Barnachea? I saw a very brief, positive mention on this forum in 2011, but that's about it...

Thanks in advance!
John

paladin
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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by paladin » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:12 pm

My guess would be that you arent going to find what you say you are looking for. "Top" schools want their students to learn English just like "normal" level ones do, as we all know, that without good English, people arent going to get far these days. We sent our son to Craighouse, which is bilingual, and offers the IB, which is something that not many offer, and to do that, they need to make sure you speak English.
I'm not sure I understand what kind of immersion experience you mean. If you mean immersing in the "Chilean culture", you arent going to find that by sending them to a top school.

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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by Donnybrook » Fri Mar 14, 2014 4:45 pm

Virtually all the students in any school here are Chilean and the playground takes care of the Spanish immersion. They will pick it up a good deal quicker than you will!

You will find the IB schools here:
http://www.ibo.org/country/CL/

Some schools have more English than others and it isn't a requirement for the IB, which can be done in any language. If you look at the Colegio Aleman Valparaiso on the drop down list on that link, you will see they offer the IB Primary Years and the Diploma, both in Spanish. Some offer the diploma and some just the IB program in primary. Some have all students take IB exams and some just some students.

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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by admin » Fri Mar 14, 2014 5:00 pm

They will get plenty. They mostly still will speak and study in Spanish at the "English" schools about 99% of the time. Contact with the other kids will teach them more Spanish than the teachers ever could, so the school is almost irrelevant if that is the goal. A bit more English around, might also help the transition.

We had some clients move to Chile earlier this year with a 9 year old daughter that did not speak any Spanish. About 6 weeks later we were having a meeting with the client and some other people, where the girl had accompanied her mother. Mom prodded the girl to tell us all about something that was going on at her school. In a rather jaw dropping performance, the likes of which I have never seen before (I have a masters degree in Philosophy of Language), the girl gave an impromptu public presentation to a bunch of adults in Spanish with a near perfect Chilean accent, and only slight hesitation to find the vocabulary she needed as she over reached from time to time explaining her subject. This same girl was described originally to us as a total "wall flower" back home.

Nearly every single one of our clients that have moved with kids under about 15 years old to Chile, the kids are fully fluent within the year and translating for mom and dad. The only trick is keeping it up after they leave.

Number one thing, keep the adults out of the way. Kids teach kids language. They are brutal, unforgiving, and totally unapologetic about it; the kid learning will adapt fast. Also helps that kids don't get embarrassed easily when they make mistakes. They will just power through, correctly or incorrectly, where an adult would give up out of embarrassment.

Rather amazing kids learn language at all (including their native language), considering how totally under qualified adults are to teach it.
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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by CPATX » Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:52 pm

John,

I can't post a link but if you do a Google search which includes the following search terms: Colegio Huelquen, expat children and Danish, you will find an excellent review of Montessori Huelquen. If we were to move to Santiago, this would be my top choice hands down. We are eyeing the Vina area and I can't find much to my liking. Hope I don't have to pick my new home because of a school but if I have to, I will.

My kiddo does not speak Spanish but she will probably go to a Spanish speaking school, we just don't see any reason to send her to an (pseudo) English school. She is only 2 now, so we got some time. A bigger challenge for me is the culture that I see at most schools. Granted, I only see pictures and read whatever they post on their websites but many schools seem to have a highly hierarchical/structured and almost militaristic feel to it. Hubby and I already had the pleasure to putting up with that in our childhood and we will not put her through that.

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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by JHRandolph » Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:20 pm

Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful replies.

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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by CPATX » Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:37 pm

Do you mind sharing what you are finding out? Very interested in this topic. You can also PM me if you prefer.

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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by JHRandolph » Mon Oct 27, 2014 8:37 pm

Postscript: We had a choice between the Grange, Wenlock and Huelquen Montessori. For those new to the subject, the Grange and Wenlock are competitive admissions processes-- you are likely wasting your time without an introduction from someone that knows the headmaster/ administrators. We were very fortunate to get an introduction from a work contact.

In the end, we passed on the Grange, which carries an excellent reputation, in favor of Huelquen. For very young kids such as ours, the Grange puts a heavy emphasis on the English language, and as I mentioned earlier in the thread, that's the opposite of what we wanted for our kids-- we wanted a "Spanish immersion" experience.

If you're looking for Montessori taught in a Spanish setting, my wife and I highly recommend Huelquen. We have been very impressed...

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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by nwdiver » Tue Oct 28, 2014 1:04 pm

The Grange has a class or two of native english speakers in every grade, which has a very structured program of spanish language classes. Also they don't offer to IB, but do offer the Cambridge Program, which is recognized at all the Northern Hemisphere Unis as equivalent or better than the IB, well if you do well you can get into Cambridge so are be able to get into most Unis, plus they place very well in UC and PUC if you are stay in Chile, which will become important if they do away with the National Placement Exams which will lead to chaos in the Chilean Unis.......
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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by Southerner » Tue Oct 28, 2014 5:36 pm

Our 5-year old, who speaks mostly Spanish but understands English as well, is attending Rayen Mahuida near Colina (http://www.colegiorayenmahuida.cl/home.html)... it is a Montessori school and we are happy with it so far. It is 100% in Spanish (well, except for their English class, obviously). What part of Santiago do you plan to live and how much do you want to spend?
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xephias
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Re: top elementary schools in Santiago for Spanish speakers?

Post by xephias » Thu Jan 10, 2019 4:26 pm

Hi John, I am looking for a school for my 3 year old, and am considering Huelquen. What has been your experience with this school so far? Are you happy with it? Any cons?
I also sent you a PM, just in case.
Thank you.
Gaston.

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