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Dutch International Schools foster multilingual learners

Did you know that although the language of instruction at the Dutch International Schools (DIS) is English, students can do class activities in the language they are most comfortable in? Rather than just focussing solely on the English proficiency of our students, we look at them as multilingual learners. This is firmly grounded in the believe that to learn a new language, students must keep developing their home language(s).

-By Ingrid Schmoutziguer and Manon Blaxland, Dutch International Schools communication team

That is why we encourage students to access the curriculum in their home language(s), meaning they could do research (books/internet/interview) in the language in which they are confident, or they could use reading time in class to read a book in their favourite language. This multilingual inclusive approach not only makes children (and parents) feel welcome, but it also enhances their sense of individual identity and belonging and prepares them to become confident, empathetic global citizens.

In many of the Dutch International Schools (DIS), students can also join a Home Language Club after school and take part in Home Language Week or Mother tongue Day celebrations.

Language of the week

In many of the classrooms across the DIS you will find wall displays featuring multiple languages, making the languages visible. The daily check in might include greeting each other in your home language(s). Students are also allowed to use their chosen language to produce their work and / or conduct research and can use translation tools. Students can also choose to work in a group where they could speak their home language, providing there are more children in the class speaking the same language. Some schools even introduced Language of the Week in which the whole school community says good morning in Tamil, Norwegian, Korean or Xhosa.

Language of instruction

The language of instruction at the DIS is English. That is why all students new to English take part in an English immersion programme. The English Language Acquisition (ELA) teachers might take children out of the classroom for one on one or small group support, but will also join students in the classroom to support them accessing the curriculum together with their classmates. Besides the ELA teachers, language learners are also supported by their classroom and specialist teachers; In an international school every teacher is a language teacher.

Older students entering the higher grades of secondary school, must have a certain level of English proficiency to benefit from the programmes taught at the DIS. That is why those students might be asked to do an English language test as part of their application.

Dutch Language Acquisition

At the DIS all students learn Dutch with the aim to be able to participate in Dutch society. Many of our students become confident enough speaking Dutch to be able to join a local sport, music or craft club or play with Dutch children in their neighbourhood. Secondary students will also learn another foreign language, which could for example be Spanish, German, French or Mandarin. Diploma students in the last two years of secondary school, could opt to study their home language through the Self-Taught School Supported language programmes and obtain a bilingual Diploma.

International Mindedness

At Dutch International Schools we believe that the acquisition and development of more than one language enriches intellectual and personal growth and nurtures international mindedness, as well as creating a more inclusive and welcoming learning environment for all.

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