Wageningen University wants to make it easier for international students to learn Dutch. That is why the university’s language institute Wageningen in'to Languages will start offering its Social Dutch courses free of charge in 2019.
© Student Council members Aniek de Winter (left), Joshua Wambugu (right) and chair Sophie Galema (centre) at in'to Languages. © Student Council
The Social Dutch course currently costs 90 euros. The idea to make that zero euros comes from the Student Council. ‘The Student Council came up with this proposal last year, based on the belief that communication is the first step to integration,’ explains the current chair Sophie Galema. ‘We heard this week that the Executive Board has agreed to it. We have already got a lot of reactions from international students who are pleased and plan to make use of this option.’
The Social Dutch I and II courses will be free for all international students provided that they attend at least 80 percent of the lessons. It is not yet clear how this will work. ‘We will now start figuring out the details,’ says Galema.
Not only will the courses be free, they will also be given more often. ‘Social Dutch is always full,’ says Galema. ‘The lessons will probably become even more popular now so we should schedule more groups.’ At present two groups with a maximum of 18 participants each start in September, January/February and April/May for each level. Each course consists of 15 lessons, with two lessons a week and a test at the end.
The rector Arthur Mol says the Executive Board sees the language lessons as a way of improving the integration of international students in the Wageningen community. ‘Virtually everyone in Wageningen speaks English but of course you will have more interaction between the Dutch residents and the international community if international students can also express themselves in Dutch.’
The university is not alone in wanting to make it easier for international students to learn Dutch. Student Anne Walther recently set up Taalclub Wageningen, an initiative in which language lessons are linked to voluntary work. After a post on the Wageningen Student Plaza Facebook group, 80 people replied expressing an interest.
To contact Taalclub Wageningen, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.