Friday 13 December 2019

Amsterdam schools could do more to embrace bilingualism: survey

Changing classroom on schoolAmsterdam should be doing more to encourage bilingual education in the city and schools should do more to help new children who speak a different language adjust to the Dutch system, according to research by the city council.

The survey found 45% of the children of international workers attend an ordinary Dutch school, 40% go to international schools and 15% have a place at a school with a bilingual stream.

The survey also found that the city’s international schools have long waiting lists and high fees, and that only 20% of parents get help towards the fees from their employer.

While local schools are considered a good alternative, 25% of the 386 parents who took part in the survey are dissatisfied with the way schools cope with bilingual children and the transition from English-spoken to Dutch-spoken education.

Tests

They also feel some schools are reluctant to accept children who don’t have good Dutch language skills because they are worried about the impact on the school’s performance in national tests.

Earlier this year, the government said that Dutch primary schools will soon be able to conduct 15% of their lessons in English, French or German in an effort to boost language skills.

Junior education minister Sander Dekker wants to extend the use of other languages following successful trials which show young children pick up foreign languages more quickly.

A further 20 primary schools are also involved in an experiment to offer completely bilingual education. The results of that project will be published in 2019.

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