Dutch as a foreign language discussed in a conf. in Aruba

PHILIPSBURG–An “important step” towards starting a Caribbean network for issues on language policy, materials and the professional development of Dutch as a Foreign Language NVT was taken during a conference, themed “Dutch as a Foreign Language” held at University of Aruba on November 23.

St. Maarten was represented at the conference. According to a press release, the Dutch language remains “a hurdle” for most students in the region. “This often has to do with the fact that Dutch is still taught as a mother tongue, using materials in the Dutch context, whereas Dutch is a foreign language for the students,” the release said.

Though many initiatives have already been started on the islands of the former Netherlands Antilles with regard to this, often islands are not aware of each other’s good practices. The objective of the conference was to make a start in joining forces for the improvement of Dutch education, and teaching the Dutch language in a manner that will not hinder the development of the students

Besides NT1 (Dutch for native speakers) and NT2 (Dutch for non-native speakers in a Dutch environment) there is NVT (Nederlands als Vreemde Taal or Dutch as a foreign language). This refers to non-native speakers who speak Dutch in a non-Dutch environment.

The conference was opened by Marjan de Visser-Lemstra, who gave a brief explanation of the various settings for using Dutch. Her inventory of the state of affairs of NVT in the Caribbean was the reason for the conference. The survey took place on the six islands of the Kingdom, and was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education and Dutch Language Union “Taalunie.”

Director of the Directorate of Education in Aruba Annemarie Proveyer welcomed the approximately 70 participants, and emphasised the importance of cooperation.

University of Aruba official Eric Mijts, who was the keynote speaker, called for developing material to optimize Dutch as a foreign language in education. He pointed out that methods used for learning other foreign languages work. Attention needs to be paid to the further professionalizing of schoolteachers in the use of NVT-specific materials.

De Visser-Lemstra elaborated on the inventory she conducted for NVT on the six islands. She elaborated on Dutch used as the language of instruction. Topics were language policies, didactics, materials, practices and experiences with NVT education. The aim of the survey was to provide input for focusing on an NVT network in the Caribbean, where ideas on language policies and developing materials can be shared. This network can also be a network for common professionalization.

Five short presentations of the best practices from the different islands were also given by various persons, including transition coordinator for St. Eustatius Angela Dekker. A presentation was also given on the NVT method used in kindergarten and elementary schools in Aruba.

Dutch language teacher in St. Maarten Petra van Gent highlighted the importance of a structured approach to the provision of NVT-education. Elementary school teacher in Saba Femke Neunzig and Dutch language teachers at Colegio Arubano Suzanne Dings and Nicole de Weert delivered a presentation about good practices.

Four groups, representing those who are needed to make changes from mother tongue education to NVT-education, concluded the afternoon with a discussion on policy makers, decision makers, NVT-experts and informants. In the plenary discussion it was decided to immediately start a platform for exchanges and cooperation. During the meeting the Facebook page “NVT in the Caribbean” was created.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/61964-dutch-as-a-foreign-language-discussed-in-a-conf-in-aruba