known informally as Holland, is a country in Western
Europe with a population of 17.2 million registered inhabitants, according
to the latest estimates by Statistics Netherlands (CBS). Together with three
island territories in the Caribbean (Bonaire, Sint
Eustatius and Saba),
it forms the constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The European
part of the Netherlands consists of twelve provinces and adjoins Germany to the
east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea
to the northwest, sharing maritime
borders in the North Sea with Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The
Netherlands`capital is Amsterdam while the five largest cities in the country
moreover, The Hague holds the Dutch seat of parliament and government.
centuries The Dutch have been in contact with other cultures and languages due
to migration issues. The Netherlands were successively invaded by the Romans,
the Spanish, the French and the Germans and all these civilizations have left
traces in the language. Since the sixteenth century the percentage of
inhabitants with a migrant background has continuously shifted between 5 and
10% (Lucassen & Lucassen, 2011, Lucassen & Penninx, 1994). In the last
fifty years, The Dutch society has been altered by the arrival of large numbers
of citizens coming from the former Dutch colonies, migrant workers from the
Mediterranean area, and refugees from all over the world.
Lately many people from
Eastern Europe have migrated to the Netherlands. Since its entry into the EU in
2004, Poland is the most important country of origin for newcomers in the
Netherlands. In 2011 more than 19.000 Polish migrated to the Netherlands. The
last study carried out by the electronic databank of Statistics Netherlands
there were more migrants from European countries, Brazil and India in 2017.
more than 10 thousand migrants arrived from Romania,
Bulgaria and the former Soviet Union (e.g. Estonia and Latvia) combined (3 thousand more than one year previously). (www.cbs.nl)
The official language of
The Netherlands is Dutch, which is spoken by the largest
part of the inhabitants. Besides Dutch, West
recognised as a second official language in the northern province of Friesland. “Talen in Nederland
– Erkende talen”. rijksoverheid.nl. Retrieved 12 August 2014. West Frisian has a formal status for
government correspondence in that province.
The Netherlands has a
tradition of learning foreign languages, regularised in Dutch education laws.
Some 90% of the total population indicate they are able to keep a conversation in English, http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/archives/ebs/ebs_386_en.pdf
p.23. English is a mandatory course
in all secondary schools In most lower level secondary school educations (vmbo), one additional modern foreign language is
mandatory during the first two years.
In higher level secondary
schools (HAVO and VWO), two extra modern foreign languages are obligatory
during the first three years. It is during the last three years in VWO when one
foreign language is mandatory. Apart from English, the standard modern
languages are French and German, although schools can replace one of these
modern languages with Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, or Russian. Furthermore, schools in Friesland
teach and have exams in West
schools across the country teach and have exams in Ancient Greek and Latin for secondary school (called Gymnasium or VWO+).
According to some
researches, the main reasons for the high amount of English speakers is the
country’s small size, dependency on international trade, and the avoidance of
audio dubbing opting for the use of subtitles for foreign languages on television instead. Dutch’s genealogical
proximity to English is also noted as a significant factor; both languages are
closely related West
Occupations which require a complex knowledge of the English language, such as
those in aviation and the sciences, are abundant in the Netherlands as well.
Even more, Amsterdam`s official language is English as well as the Caribbean
municipalities of Sint Eustatius and Saba.
Before starting to analyse
Bilingualism in The Netherlands it is necessary, for a better understanding, to
review the education system carried out there. Here it is a summary chart of
how the levels are divided.
In the Netherlands
education is oriented toward the background and needs of the students. Schools
divide education according to the age of the groups, some of which are split
into streams for different educational levels. Moreover, schools are divided in
public, special (religious) and general-special (those that assume equality
between religions), even more are government-financed, although they receive equal
financial support from the government they may ask for a parent contribution. However,
a few private schools are also settled in the Netherlands which rely on their
The Ddutch Ministry of
Education, Culture and Science with municipal governments coordinates the
Educational policy is
coordinated by the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and
municipal governments. Furthermore, every single school types (public, special
and private) is under the jurisdiction of a government body called Inspectie
van het Onderwijs that could ask a school to change its educational policy
and quality otherwise it could be at risk of closure.
education (leerplicht) in the Nehterlands starts at the age of five and
ends at the age of eighteen or when students get a diploma on the VWO, HAVO or
MBO level. However, from the age of sixteen there is a partial compulsory education
(partiële leerplicht), what means that a student must attend for at
least two days a week to some for of education.