We know that it can be difficult to transition to a new place and a new language. To make settling into a Dutch-speaking school easier for your children, have you considered a private course? Have a look below at what Neeltje, one of our teachers, said about what a typical class looks like and some further thoughts.
What is the best age to make the switch?
The best moment is when the child can already read or write in his/her own language. I have also experienced teaching 4-year-olds who do not have those skills yet and in this case, I will use a lot of prompt cards with pictures; I use these pictures to teach vocabulary and relations between the words. I need to switch up the activities a lot so that the child does not get bored.
Where and how do you start?
We organise an intake in which I show a picture and I ask questions about the pictures, or I ask the pupil to write something about it when there is already some basis. I analyse where the gaps are. I look at the verb forms, the spelling of specific sounds, the sentence structure, the articles, plurals. I will then select materials that specifically teach the language points that the pupil does not master.
What kinds of materials do you use?
Kickstart School has a wide range of learning materials of which I like ‘Horen, Zien en Schrijven’ the best. Additionally, I have assembled my own private collection of books and learning materials over the years, also from recycling shops. I have also developed a lot of my own materials.
What do you use the most in your classes?
As children like to play games a lot, I use very imaginative and colourful jigsaw puzzles and as we make the puzzles together, we speak a lot about what we see, and I ask him/her all sorts of questions related to what is depicted. The puzzles range in difficulty. An easy one has 20 pieces.
Another favourite activity that works well for children is playing ‘ kwartet’. I have about 10 different sets ranging from easy to difficult (with complete sentences). Playing kwartet requires more than 2 people so it very handy that the parents join in playing this game. They tend to stay around during the classes, so they also know what their child learns.
The old-fashioned methodology Alle kinderen leren lezen has been an all-time favourite. Some of the activities need to be done in class and some of the activities are given as homework. It needs a lot of cutting and pasting of the right words near the right pictures. Children love these activities. As the parents participate in the classes, they will be able to reinforce the words at home. The aim is that the sound will be connected to the image of the word. It is very important to pronounce the individual sounds in the way they are pronounced in the words.
What else do you do?
Reading stories out loud
I like to read out loud to the children using books with good-quality photos or illustrations. It is very important to expose them to new vocabulary in a meaningful context. Sometimes the stories may still be too complex so I will adapt to their vocabulary and focus on relating the words to the pictures.
Simple reading books
With the help of some very simple books (first with only one-syllable words, then with two-syllable words, after that with diphthongs) we practise reading. The books only contain what needs to be trained, nothing else that can be confusing.
What is the added value of your lessons? Aren’t children like sponges and don’t they just absorb the language automatically?
In my classes, children are pushed to express themselves. In this way, I can help them expand their vocabulary, work with them on their sentence structure and help them gain confidence.
Can you give me an example how a lesson of a child who can already read and write looks like?
1 x kwartetspel (15 min)
45 minutes working through the methodology Horen, Zien en Schrijven
Reading a story in an interactive way (15 min)