New course in DP: Dutch ab initio
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New course in DP: Dutch ab initio

Since the start of this academic year, DP1 students can learn Dutch at a beginners level (ab initio), just like the students in the PYP and MYP. Dutch teachers Ilona Smolders and Marloes Manni tell you all about this Dutch ab initio course.

By Ilona Smolders & Marloes Manni, secondary Dutch teachers

Up until this school year, students who weren’t native Dutch speakers had the choice to pick Dutch B as a standard or higher level subject in the Diploma Program. A minimum of two years of Dutch was required for Dutch B standard level, in which students solidify their reading, writing and listening skills, as well as work on their grammar and broaden their vocabulary.

Kikker en zijn vriendjes

The IB had noticed, however, that students just arriving in the Netherlands did not have a chance to take any Dutch. This caused a gap in the curriculum, especially if these students, or their parents, were planning on staying here longer. That’s why, at the start of this academic year, 2020/2021, a new subject was offered for schools to add to their curriculum: Dutch ab initio. This new subject is available for students with little to no knowledge of the Dutch language. At the ISUtrecht we noticed straight away that Dutch ab initio was a welcome addition to the curriculum, as 12 students started the course this year.

‘Being capable to communicate in the language surrounding you’

By offering Dutch ab initio, all students at the ISUtrecht are able to access a Dutch course and work on the necessary language skills and intercultural understanding, creating a situation in which they are capable of communicating in the language used around them. Students don’t need any prior knowledge or experience with the Dutch language to start the ab initio course. During the course, the students learn to communicate in Dutch while developing their receptive, productive and interactive skills. Throughout 2-year DP course, we cover the prescribed themes (identities, experiences, human ingenuity, social organisation and sharing the planet.) and their corresponding topics.

Nederlands Nu

In class, we use a book called ‘Nederlands Nu’ to learn and practice with grammar, spelling and vocabulary. Additionally, we connect lessons to the themes and topics by using a variety of authentic texts, for example from Nieuwsbegrip, a website that offers different levels of text about current affairs in the Netherlands. This way, the students are expanding their knowledge of the language whilst at the same time learning more about their host country.

Often, we use a spoken and/or written text and do a creative or interactive task with this. A few examples: the students read a text about the elections in the Netherlands and created a poster for their own political party, which they presented to the class. They have also read blog posts about the Dutch language and created posters to share the knowledge they gained with their classmates. We also watched an episode of ‘Kikker en zijn vriendjes’ and the students created a visual representation to show their understanding.

Student experiences

‘Dutch ab initio is a brilliant starter course for the international students with no Dutch background. The course specializes in strengthening the individual’s confidence in speaking, reading and writing in Dutch. Dutch ab initio starts from the basics and works on a key combination on speaking and writing in interactive lessons which helps beginners in everyday situations.’ 

Zaman, Imogen and Ava

‘For people who are expats, Dutch ab initio is really good, because we can learn about the basic things of the language (writing, listening and speaking). We focus on grammar and vocabulary and seven parts of a sentence. We learn about the culture of the country and we watch videos and read newspapers from the country.’ 

Ana and Mridula

‘Dutch ab initio introduces us to new basic vocabulary that matches our level, so we are able to hold basic conversations, which is very important. The balance between practical activities and theory is good. The activities like Nieuwsbegrip and listening tasks that talk about the current affairs in the Netherlands keep us up to date with what is happening around us.’

Prarthana and Khushi

‘The advantage of learning Dutch is the fun interaction in class and that I feel like I am involved in the class. Also, Dutch will be useful in the future on a day to day basis. Furthermore, you can make Dutch friends. Living in the Netherlands is advantageous to learning the language, as you are surrounded by it constantly, although sometimes it can be overwhelming. The disadvantage is that it’s difficult to pronounce the Dutch words. The grammar is tricky to learn. Also, Dutch can mostly be used in Netherlands.’

Mark, Kyle, Darren and Jason