In the upcoming academic year, two extra ‘schakelklassen’ have been organized for young primary school children in Heerenveen, but what exactly are ‘schakelklassen’ and what purpose do they serve?
After seeing the positive impact schakelklassen had on youngsters last year, the Ambion Foundation, CBO Meilan, Kinderwoud and the municipality of Heerenveen are collaborating to create two new immersion classes this September, which will give 20 newcomers the opportunity to participate in intensive language education. These classes will be offered at the ‘’OBS De Optimist’’ in Nijkehaske, a district in Heerenveen, and are open to pupils from all schools in the municipality of Heerenveen. It is expected that after completing these schakelklassen, these children will be able to proceed on to regular education by the 2020/2021 academic year.
What are Schakelklassen?
Schakelklassen are Dutch immersion classes that are offered to young international primary school children who have recently moved to the Netherlands. Reacting to the success of these schakelklassen, Alderman Jelle Zoetendal expresses, ‘’it’s not easy to participate in regular classes if you are lagging behind in the Dutch language. It is therefore nice to see that we really made a difference with offering a switch class for these children with their start in the Netherlands.’’ Schakelklassen, then, are a solution to help young children reach a comfortable level of Dutch so that they can proceed to regular education, where they will naturally feel more included and able to communicate.
In 2018 transitional classes, focusing on both teaching the Dutch language and social-emotional development, were organised by the Municipality of Heerenveen and were of great benefit, with children successfully moving onto the regular Dutch schooling system. By primarily attending these ‘schakelklassen’ alongside attending their own primary school one day per week, children have the chance to interact and practice the language with Dutch children, so parents can rest assured that when the time comes, their children will have a smooth transition into not only the Dutch schooling system, but Dutch friendship circles.
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