Kids at Floralaan primary school speak no fewer than 42 languages.
In addition to Dutch, many of the children also speak their mother tongue. The primary school is a language-friendly school. That makes this SALTO school only the fourth language-friendly school in the Netherlands.
A language-friendly school covers all the languages spoken at home, at school. There’s also a plan aimed at creating an inclusive, language-friendly learning environment for all pupils. The school’s teachers and parents are seeing to this.
‘Everyone should feel valued’
“We support inclusion and diversity. Everyone should feel seen, heard and valued. It’s also good to be able to speak the language you are used to at home,” Arabella Ganzeman, the school’s director says.
“At first we thought it was better to speak only Dutch at home too. Now, research shows that children learn best in their mother tongue. The kids’ ability to learn a second language doesn’t suffer,” Ganzeman says.
“In fact, mother-tongue literacy lays the cognitive and linguistic foundations for learning new languages.” Two or more languages are, therefore, best learned at the same time. It even often promotes the learning process.
It’s also not because children are fully taught in these languages. It’s mainly a question of recognition. “I also notice that children pick up on things more quickly. They are curious about each other and teach each other words too”, Karin de Groot, one of the school’s teachers, says, enthusiastically.
The parents are also optimistic. “When we showed the project to the parents, they offered us a lot of help”, De Groot says. “One mother has already made German dishes to give to the class, all part of playful learning”.
“By teaching children in their mother tongue in primary school, children quickly become literate in a country’s official language,” Ganzeman says. “That ensures the pupils are bi or even multilingual. What’s even more important is that their self-confidence grows.”
“They remain interested in learning. They stay in school longer. We can help them to make a greater contribution to the society in which they live.”
Other language-friendly SALTO schools are Reigerlaan in Tongelre and Hobbitsee in Gestel.
Editor: Melinda Walraven