Spain at a glance


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Achievement & Equality Team

Information on Spain and the Spanish language

La Marcha Real- has no official Lyrics
National Anthem of Spain
Location – South-west Europe, occupying the majority of the Iberian Peninsula as well as the Balearic Islands, the Canary Islands and two enclaves in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla.

Neighbours – Portugal, Andorra, France, Ceuta and Melilla on the north-west Moroccan Coast.

Size195,362 square miles

Population 45,593,385 (32nd)

Life Expectancy – Male / Female 78/84

Capital city – Paris
Potted History

Formed after the marriage of Queen Isabel of Castille and King Ferdinand of Aragon brought their kingdoms together. These “Catholic Monarchs” then captured the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, excluding Portugal, from the Moors and Navarrese. At the same time Christopher Columbus sailed to the Americas, founding an empire that sustained Spain until the end of the 19th century. A brutal civil war in the 1930s was followed by the 36-year dictatorship of General Franco. His death in 1975 marked the transition to democracy that brought EU membership and prosperity.

Political pressure points

Spain has tried hard since 1975 to find a way for its most independent-minded regions, especially Catalonia and the Basque country, to govern themselves while remaining Spanish. As a result the country is now divided into 17 regions with considerable powers. However, Basque separatist group ETA continues to practice sporadic terrorism.

Recession is dominant on the current agenda.

Population mix

88% Spanish; 12% other.

Religious makeup

Catholic 79%, Other 11%.

Main languages

Spanish, Basque, Catalan.

Living national icons

Pedro Almodovar (Director), Placido Domingo (Opera Singer),

Penelope Cruz (Actor), Joaquin Cortes (Dancer), Rafael Nadel (Tennis), Fernando Torres (Footballer)

The Nottinghamshire Context
Nottinghamshire does not have an established Spanish community. However, there have been a few Spanish children enrolling in County schools. There are long established links between Spain and the UK, and as they are both within the EU the main reason for families arriving are for business reasons.

Education in Spain

Basic education is compulsory and free of charge, it is extended up to the age of 16.

Pre-school education (Educaciòn Infantil)

Spain has a long tradition of state-funded pre-school (preescuelar), with over 90 per cent of children aged four or five attending for at least one year before starting compulsory schooling. The term pre-school embraces play school, nursery school (guardería), kindergarten (jardín de la infancia) and infant school (escuela infantil).

Primary schools (Educaciòn Primaria)

At six, children move to primary school. It lasts for 6 years and is divided into 3 cycles. Pupils will study Spanish language, Maths, Conocimiento del Medio (including biology, history, geography...), a second language, art and physical education. Although State education is free, parents will still have to buy books, and material and pay for extra activities.

Secondary Education.

At age 12, children progress to Secondary school.

The first 4 years are called ESO (Educaciòn Secondaria Obligatoria) and children can leave the education system at the end of this section (or at the age of 16). The ESO is divided into 2 cycles of 2 years each (with the possibility of repeating the first year)

At the end of the 4 years, students will obtain a certificate. For most of the students who choose to stay at school, they will then follow a 2 years Bachillerato academic course. There are 4 types of Bachillerato: Arts, Humanities, Natural and Health Sciences and Technology.

At the end of the 2 years students will take examinations during the month of May and the final result will be based both on results and continuous assessment.

Information about the Spanish Language

Spanish is a Romance language with approximately 417 million speakers, 322 to 358 million of whom speak it as a first language while the remainder speak it as a second language. A significant number of people also speak Spanish as a foreign language. Spanish is spoken in Spain and 43 other countries including: Andorra, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, the USA and Venezuela

Spanish first started to appear in writing in the form of notes and glosses in Latin religious texts, the Glosas Emilianenses, dating from the 11th century. During the 12th century, law codes (Fueros) were being translated into Spanish. Spanish prose flowered during the reign of King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile (1252-84), who in addition to being the king and a poet, also found time to write an encyclopaedia in Spanish called Las Partidas, which contains laws, chronicles, recipes, and rules for hunting, chess and card games. The first Spanish grammar, by Antonio de Nebrija, and the first dictionaries were published during the 15th and 16th centuries.

In Spain the language is generally called español (Spanish) when contrasting it with languages of other countries, such as French and English, but it is called castellano (Castilian, the language of the Castile region) when contrasting it with other languages spoken in Spain, such as Galician, Basque, and Catalan.

Some philologists use Castilian only when speaking of the language spoken in Castile during the Middle Ages, stating that it is preferable to use Spanish for its modern form. The subdialect of Spanish spoken in northern parts of modern day Castile is also sometimes called Castilian, and differs from those of other regions of Spain, however the Castilian dialect is conventionally considered in Spain to be the same as standard Spanish.

The name castellano is widely used for the language in Latin America. Some Spanish speakers consider castellano a generic term with no political or ideological links, much as how "Spanish" is used in English.

Words and Phrases






Yes, please/No, thank you.

Sí, por favor/No, gracias.


Por favor.

Thank you.


You're welcome.

De nada.

Here is/are...

Aquí está/están...

Hello/Good morning.

Hola/Buenos días.

Good afternoon/Good evening.

Buenas tardes.



Good night.

Buenas noches.

How are you?

¿Cómo está (usted)/ estás?

Very well, thanks.

Muy bien gracias.

Excuse me.


Do you speak English?

¿Habla usted inglés? (formal) ¿Hablas inglés? (informal)

Can you help me?

¿Me puede ayudar? (formal)

I don't understand.

No entiendo.

I don't comprehend

No comprendo

I understand


I comprehend


How do you say-in Spanish?

¿Cómo se dice-en español?

What do you call this?

¿Cómo se llama esto?

Speak slowly, please

Hable lentamente, por favor

More slowly

Mas despacio

Please repeat

Repita, por favor


Otra vez

My Spanish is not very good

Mi espanol no es muy bueno

I am trying to learn more

Estoy intentando aprender más

I speak a little Spanish

Hablo poquito español

I am called-

Me llamo

My name is-

Mi nombre es-

What is your name?

¿Cómo se llama usted?

Where are you from?

¿De dónde es?

I am from...

Soy de...

I don't know.

No lo sé.

Leave me alone.

Déjeme en paz.

Please write it down.

Por favor, escríbalo.








¿Por qué?





Where is...?

¿Dónde está...?

How much is it?

¿Cuánto cuesta?

How many?


What's that?

¿Qué es eso?

I'd like.

Me gustaría.

I want.


I'd like it.

Me gusta.

I don't like it.

No me gusta.


OK/De acuerdo.

That's fine.

Está bien.

What time is it?

¿Qué hora es?


hoy/esta noche/mañana/ayer





































Useful guidance is available from:
New Arrivals Excellence Programme Guidance

(2007) Ref 00650 – 2007BKT- EN

This resource is for primary and secondary schools and contains guidance on admission and developing classroom practice.

A language in common: assessing English as an additional language

QCA (2000) (QCA/00/584).

This document sets out steps used in assessment of EAL, linked to English National Curriculum levels. It provides guidance and exemplifications.

Aiming High: guidance on supporting the education of asylum seeking and refugee children (DfES 0287 – 2004)

This guidance helps explain the value of an inclusive ethos and curriculum to all pupils.

Aiming High: meeting the needs of newly arrived learners of EAL

(DfES 1381 -2005)

Information on working with newly arrived isolated EAL pupils in settings that have little or no access to EAL support.

Excellence and enjoyment: learning and teaching for bilingual children in the primary years (DfES 0013 – 2006PCK- EN)

Key Stage 3 National Strategy: Access and engagement in English:teaching pupils for whom English is an additional language (DfES 0609 – 2002)

Publications/Catalogues are available from:
MUNDI Tel: 0115 8546418


Global Education Centre

Foxhall Lodge

Foxhall Road


NG7 6LH (under construction/Aug 2010)

Mundi loan resources to schools in Nottinghamshire free for up to half a term e-mail:

GRANT AND CUTLER Tel: 0207 734 2012

55-57 Great Marlborough Street,


A one-stop shop for foreign language resources including language-learning material, reference books, technical dictionaries, literature, history, politics etc.

MILET PUBLISHING Tel: 0207 603 5477
6 North End Parade
London W14 0SJ


Milet publishers a wide range of bilingual picture dictionaries, including board books for use in early years settings.

TRENTHAM BOOKS LTD Tel: 01782 745567

Westview House,
734 London Road,

Stoke on Trent,



Trentham publishes 'a wide range of titles plus seven professional journals, mainly in the field of education and social policy.

MANTRA LINGUA Tel: 0208 44 55 123

Global House

303 Ballards Lane

N12 8NP



Mantra Lingua creative learning resources Audio CDs, Big Books, e-books, fun tales, folk tales, friezes, games, language learning, packs posters, story props, toys videos and so on.
Classroom Resources are available from:
Interactive video clips showing children teaching their home languages
The following website translates words, phrases and short paragraphs from English to Spanish available at;

The Dingle Granby Toxteth Education Action Zone website; Useful letters for parents translated into Spanish available at:

DLTK's Crafts for Kids features a variety images that can be used for creating pupils own subject-specific dictionaries.
Activities for ESL Students can be adapted for EAL pupils in primary and secondary schools. Has bilingual quizzes in large number of languages, available at;
Omniglot writing systems and languages of the world available at
EMA Online resource base for teachers has been developed by Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester LAs with funding from the DfES, available at

Racist bullying, Advice designed for schools to dip in and out as appropriate for them and offers discussion topics and activities to stimulate debate and spark activity involving everyone in the school community, available at;
Teachernet states that a successful home–school relationship can be a key element in making a school stronger and more effective. In particular, it can make a real difference to groups of underachieving pupils and their families, available at;

Nottinghamshire Achievement & Equality Team

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