BONAIRE, Caribbean Netherlands – On the 6th and 7th of February a network conference ‘Dutch as a foreign language’ took place on Curaçao. Nederlandse Taalunie organised this event, together with the ministries of education of the four countries Curaçao, Aruba, St. Maarten and the Netherlands. The Dutch Caribbean islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba also fall under the Ministry of Education of the Netherlands.
At this conference, representatives from the various ministries and representatives from various levels of education were present. They talked about the challenges of the Dutch language in education and set up a network. The aim of this network is to exchange knowledge, experience and materials about the teaching of Dutch as a foreign language. But also to work in collaboration with the educational institutions on the islands to further professionalise teachers.
For most students Dutch is not their native language. A foreign language is learned differently from a native language. That is why more and more schools on the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles are using the NVT-didactics. This ‘Dutch as Foreign-Language’ didactic appears to be a successful approach to teaching students how to speak and understand Dutch well. The teacher ensures that the
students are actively involved with the language during classes. This way they learn to use the language quickly. The teaching materials are also adjusted to the living environment of the students. For example, they’re not taught about cows and sheep in the field, but about iguanas and hermit crabs. This way the students learn faster, because they recognise what the materials are about and can link this to what they already know.
The day after the conference, the ‘Vierlandenoverleg’ of the Ministers of Education of the four countries took place. Together they signed a letter of intent with the Nederlandse Taalunie. This declaration lays the foundation for further cooperation and development in the area of Dutch as a foreign language in the region.