Because of the stage of their brain development, children usually find it easier to learn a new language than adults. However, there is a misconception that children will effortlessly pick up a new language. Developing the linguistic skills of their parent’s mother tongue and simultaneously learning a new language, such as Dutch, requires the conscious effort, reinforcement, and support of the parents, teachers, and family members.
There are several ways to enable your children to learn Dutch:
- Send them to a Dutch language training club such as the Dutch club at Basisclub.nl/en or visit Dutchforchildren.nl
- There are an increasing number of schools that provide bilingual lessons. Most of them are secondary schools. Officially, bilingual education is forbidden at primary schools, but there is an experiment with bilingual education in 17 primary schools which runs until the end of the school year 2022/2023.
- If your child is attending day-care or a playgroup, you might want to consider a Dutch group. In this way children will learn Dutch while they are playing
- Use of internet, special computer programmes and Dutch television
If you want your child to attend a Dutch school, some of them offer special courses for newly-arrived foreign children who speak very little or no Dutch. Find more information about opvangscholen (reception schools) in the Education FAQs section.
Most of the international schools in the Netherlands now have learning Dutch as part of their course curriculum. As there is often a wide spectrum of abilities in speaking Dutch in these schools, the approach that is sometimes taken is to arrange classes for the children by proficiency rather than age, or for older children by their ability level within a year grouping.