More writing skills in beginner training course Dutch

More writing skills in beginner training course Dutch

Capacity of Social Dutch will be increased

18-06-2024 · News

Social Dutch, the beginner training course for students who want to learn Dutch, is to be given a make-over. More time will be spent on writing skills. The number of groups will also be increased.

All first-year and second-year bachelor’s and master’s students are allowed to take a free course in Social Dutch at Maastricht University. As the name suggests, foreign students learn how to make their way ‘socially’ in Dutch. Those who complete the module, have therefore reached level A1 ‘with a minus after it’. “It makes it easier to integrate in Maastricht, but it is really the basics,” says Melissa Verkleij, co-ordinator of the Dutch team at the UM Language Centre.

The focus is on listening and speaking, but that will change after the summer. Writing skills will become more important. This will make the transition to the course at A2 level easier. “We will then be working with a continuous learning path.”

Something else that is new: more attention for Maastricht culture, such as events or history, “so that students are in a better position when they ‘land’. They will also be encouraged more to integrate, speak Dutch in the supermarket, with friends, with neighbours, or to take a job in catering.”

Lack of obligation

The Language Centre will start with a pilot in September: the changes will be introduced in one language group (with a maximum of 16 students). “It is easier to start with one group, because you want to know what works and you can adapt things more quickly,” says Verkleij. If it is successful, we will change the setup of all Social Dutch groups.

Moreover, the capacity will be increased after the summer: from 15 to about 25 groups per period (14 weeks). “We don’t know the exact number yet; it is not a compulsory course. It also depends on the available funding.” It not being obligatory results  in a large number of drop-outs, roughly 30 per cent. Students quit because they find it takes too much time alongside their studies, “they underestimate it. But of those who continue, almost everyone passes,” says Verkleij.

Pressure from The Hague

Politicians in The Hague want more attention for Dutch in the academic world. This increases the chances of internationals remaining in the Netherlands after graduation. Therefore, language is an important part of the elaborate bill in Parliament called ‘Internationalisation in balance’.

Political pressure is being felt and administrators from the Maastricht faculties have been having discussions with the Language Centre about what is possible with Dutch language education within the studies that are in English, so focussing on the subject that the student is learning at that time. It is a fact that students of Law will ask different questions than students at Business Engineering. An important question here is: how can you ensure that a language course like that is not at the expense of the content of the curriculum? A working group led by the director of the Language Centre is currently drawing up various scenarios.

Author: Wendy Degens

Photo: Pexels, picjumbo

Tags: language centre, language, course, internationalisation, dutch, social dutch

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