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5 TIPS TO TEACH
YOUR KIDS DUTCH

BLOG

5 TIPS TO TEACH
YOUR KIDS DUTCH

Dutch for Children: 5 Tips To Teach Your Kids Dutch

Teaching your child to speak a new language can be a daunting task. Especially when you live in a country surrounded with the child’s first language. When talking to parents of older children and students, we have heard two things. Parents who have taught their child their native language and persevered through challenging times say they would not change anything for the world. They are so grateful for the gift of language they passed on to their child. And the parents who threw in the towel, chose the easier route perhaps or focused on challenges, all resoundingly say they regret this decision as their child is older. “If only I had …  pushed harder, would not have give up.” Teaching a child a minority language when surrounded by the majority language is a huge challenge. The Dutch School is here to support you along this journey. These tips are compiled based on experience from parents, students and teachers.

1. Speak Dutch at home

Easier said than done, right? There are many reasons this is not always an option. Here are some popular methods for introducing a minority language into the home. This can be Dutch of course, but will work for any language.

One Parent One Language (OPOL): This method specifically assigns one parent to one language and the parents stick to this very consistently. If 2 parents are present (or another family member the child sees frequently) who both speak a different language fluenty, this method is recommended. This method can be started from birth on and is very effective at creating fully bilingual children.

One Situation One Language (OSOL): Sometimes OPOL is just not possible or practical. You might be a single parent, or maybe you just need to speak the majority language for work or social purposes on occasions. Whatever the reason is. There is still a solution. This method asks you to assign specific situations or environments to a language. For example, at home you always speak the minority language, but at the supermarket or at school you always speak the majority language. Or maybe it is easier to speak the majority language at home, to accommodate another family member. You can decide that whenever you are driving in the car together or out at the park you speak the minority language. This is totally customizable to what works for you and your family. The most important part of this method is creating consistency, pick the situations in which you speak the minority language and stick to it.

Rotation Days: Another good alternative are rotation days. Assign certain days of the week to a certain language. Maybe your child takes Dutch classes with us online on Tuesdays. Make Tuesday a Dutch Day! Start the day with chocolate sprinkles on your bread (to make it fun!) and speak Dutch consistently every Tuesday. It is recommended of course to pick at least 2-3 days a week to do so. Or maybe part of a day works best for your family or child. You can decide to speak the minority language before school each day, but switch to the majority language after school when the whole family is home.

Whatever your choice of method (or create one of your own that works for your family) the key is to be consistent and stick to it. This benefits both yourself and your child.

2. Expose your child to the Dutch language

There are many additional ways to expose your child to the Dutch language. Audio books while driving, switching screen time to Dutch and reading Dutch books are all highly recommended. Did you know that you can change the language settings on Netflix and Disney+ for example? On Netflix you just create a new child profile and set Dutch as the main language. Some shows will then completely be spoken in Dutch, other shows may have Dutch subtitles and a portion may just remain English. But the menu and navigation will also fully be in Dutch. For Disney+ you can change the settings of each individual movie or show before you watch it. Again not all movies have a Dutch option, but many popular children’s movies do.

All children enrolled at the Dutch School have the opportunity to access a digital and real library. Each student (whether online or on campus) has access to our lending libraries at our 3 on campus locations. You are free to stop by on Saturday mornings to come borrow some books and enjoy the “gezelligheid” and a cup of coffee. In addition, we offer a free youth digital membership to the Public Library of Amsterdam. This provides students with access to hundreds of ebooks and audiobooks. This is available for all students under 18 and once activated will remain active until their 19th birthday. This is offered during the registration process, but if you missed it, just email us to get your access.

Here is a list of recommended resources by age:

www.schooltv.nl is a website full of educational shows for children. Here is what we recommend by age:

  • 2-4 years old: Het Zandkasteel, Koekeloere, Woezel en Pip, Sesamstraat
  • 4-7 years old: Koekeloere, Huisje Boompje Beestje, Hoelahoep
  • 8-10 years old: Het Klokhuis, Studio Snugger, Huisje Boompje Beestje
  • 11+ years old: Het Jeugdjournaal, Het Klokhuis, De Buitendienst

YouTube is a wealth of Dutch videos. Here are some channels we recommend by age:

2-6 years old

7-12 years old

Here is a fun website to practice language skills such as spelling, reading comprehension and listening.

3. Make Dutch fun to learn

The most important thing to teach a child anything is to make it fun and enjoyable. Embrace the Dutch culture and make the child want to learn Dutch. You can set aside special parent and child reading time daily. This helps your child to look forward to quality time, while having a consistent moment to implement the language. Or have a stroopwafel each time you listen to an audiobook together. For older children it is a good idea to engage at their interest level. Does your child love videogames or comics? Find them a Dutch comic they love or a Dutch videogame to play. For the little ones learning through song, dance and play is very important. Singing and dancing to Dutch children’s songs together is a fun and engaging way for them to learn new vocabulary and to hear the language being used. Maybe your child has a cousin, friend or family member in Dutch to write to? Having a pen pal is a great way to practice spelling and Dutch vocabulary for older children. Younger children might be able to communicate through video messaging or sending audio messages back and forth.

4. Participate in Dutch cultural events

The Dutch School offers a ton of cultural events year round. We celebrate Sinterklaas, King’s Day but also Kinderboekenweek (children’s book week), go ice skating together in North Hollywood and San Diego, have an annual Pancake Day at our school in Orange County, attend soccer games together and host Dutch guests from time to time (in the past we have had movie directors, authors and performing artists come in to teach the children). We always extend the invitation to families beyond the school. Make sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter so you won’t miss out on these events.

5. Enroll your child in the Dutch School

The Dutch School has classes for all levels of Dutch proficiency for children ages 2.5 and up. Those classes can be followed on campus or online. Either way your child will benefit from Dutch instruction, Dutch peer interaction and learning a solid basis in the Dutch language. Our classes focus on vocabulary enrichment, conversational skills, grammar and more (depending on their level). Our teachers work hard each week to make sure the classes are fun, engaging and a joy for the children to attend. If you are not sure? A trial lesson is always available to your child to see if this is the right fit for them. We hope to support your Dutch language journey at home!

Last but not least, a bonus tip! It is never too late to start. While it is true that language acquisition can be easier for children from ages 0-7. It is never too late to start. The best thing you can do is to just start!

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