We are a Spanish family who has recently relocated to England with our children. Our 6 year old boy can't speak nor understand English; he knows some words, basic phrases and a few numbers, but that is all.
He keeps saying that he wants to go "back home" and that he doesn't want to live here. We have explained to him that we are here to stay, that our new life is here and that all will be good in the long term, but he rejects the idea and says he will leave as soon as he is 18. I assume in his mind this is temporary, he thinks he has only to wait those 12 years and be gone (he obviously can't grasp how long 12 years really are).
When we try to teach English to him, he does not pay attention, runs away or simply says "I don't know ".
We expected school to help him, staying all day with local children and playing with them and all; but it has had the opposite effect. I can imagine how frustrating it must be to sit all day long in a room full of strangers babbling incomprehensibly, doing things you barely understand and who can't understand a word you say. He is bored, making trouble and will most surely lag behind his classmates as the year goes on.
We keep explaining what is going on, trying to teach him English, and telling him that when he has learned everything will be easier, but to no avail.
We don't know what else we can do.
There area couple of assistants and a few children at the school that can speak both languages, and they are helping a lot, but they can't spend the whole day helping my son, so in the end he has to fend for himself.
We use Spanish with our children and among ourselves, but watch local TV. We still watch some films with them in Spanish but not much.
And just to clarify, or main concern is not if (or when) will he learn English. Our main concern is helping him cope with such a difficult situation and ease the transition as much as possible. I want my children to be happy, an currently he can't.
Second edit Added involved languages in order to make the question more clear.
How things have evolved After some weeks going to school, we have come to the conclusion that we were looking at it from the wrong angle. It's not that he refuses to learn because he wants to go back home, the main problem is that he wants to run away from the difficulty of learning the language. Now that he has started to communicate with others, his behaviour and attitudes have improved dramatically. He still needs help, but now we have a clear understanding of what is going on.
Two years later and my son doesn't want to hear about going "back home". He still has some difficulties, and is definitely lagging behind in reading and writing, but in general terms he is very well adjusted.
The key was encouragement and help. My wife was asked by the school to stay in class with him, explaining and translating what was going on. Having a familiar person with him helped him settle in and gain confidence. When he was used to the place and people, she gradually left him on his own for longer periods until she didn't come anymore.
And he now switches back and forth between the two languages with no effort.