Q&A: Library releases special collection to improve teaching of Dutch


Muntpunt in Brussels has made available material for teachers of Dutch to foreigners outside the language territory, with a focus on how Dutch is spoken in Flanders

New material

Muntpunt, the Flemish library and meeting point in Brussels, has launched a unique collection of educational material for people teaching Dutch to foreigners. Hellmuth van Berlo, senior advisor at Taalunie, the Dutch Language Union in Brussels, is responsible for making previously unreleased material available.

What’s new about this collection?
At our Brussels office, we store all the available courses used to teach Dutch outside the language's territory. Recently we came up with the idea of combining this with the material that is already accessible at Muntpunt. The only difference between our collections is that Muntpunt provides courses for teaching Dutch inside the Dutch-language territory. Our collection is also much more oriented towards the use of the language in Belgium.

Is there a different approach to teaching Dutch outside the language territory?
Courses taught inside the territory assume that people will be faced with the language every day. The richness of the language is offered by the environment, so courses given in other parts of the world need to provide that richness.

Why the need to bring them together in Brussels?
Courses in Brussels are supposed to be provided according to the methods used inside the language territory. But it is perfectly conceivable that the neighbourhood the foreign students live in doesn’t provide such an environment, because the main language might be French or English. So it’s our intention to bring the two types of educational material closer together, meaning one can learn from the other.

Does the collection provide theoretical works?
It needs to. We provide 100 important works of theory – we don’t expect the teachers to read them, but they should at least know them. It’s vital to have notions of how formal knowledge about a language is translated into practical use in the minds of students. If things don’t work out in class, they need to know why. The quality of language education stands or falls with the quality of the teacher.

Photo courtesy Muntpunt