Monday 18 January 2021

Polyglots

The Dutch might have an obsession about how well they speak foreign languages but they also seem to be paranoid about anyone who does not speak perfect Dutch.


Now MPs from across the political spectrum – with the honourable exception of GroenLinks and the left-wing D66 -have agreed to introduce a language test for all children before they reach the age of four. And if they fail, it’s off to compulsory pre-school language classes. There are, MPs said, 400,000 children in the Netherlands who are backwards when it comes to language. What they mean of course is that Dutch is not the primary language at home. These kids aren’t backward. They just speak another language – possibly two. Of course it’s important to learn Dutch if you live in Holland. But integration is not about speaking Dutch. Integration is about being valued, be considered equal, it is about getting off the plane and thinking ‘I’m home’. Integration is not about being told your children are backward because they speak Finnish, English, Chinese or – even – Arabic. Millions of people all over the world grow up speaking more than one language – a different one at home and school. It is something to be proud of, not something which should lead to a visit to the language police when you are three years old.

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl

The DutchNews.nl team would like to thank all the generous readers who have made a donation in recent weeks. Your financial support has helped us to expand our coverage of the coronavirus crisis into the evenings and weekends and make sure you are kept up to date with the latest developments.

DutchNews.nl has been free for 14 years, but without the financial backing of our readers, we would not be able to provide you with fair and accurate news and features about all things Dutch. Your contributions make this possible.

If you have not yet made a donation, but would like to, you can do so via Ideal, credit card or Paypal.