Guide to clear Dutch to help teachers and parents communicate


Schools in Brussels can now get a guide to speaking Dutch effectively and to organising language-learning opportunities for parents who do not speak the language

‘Cosmopolitan city’

The Brussels branch of Huis van het Nederlands (House of Dutch) have produced a practical guide to help teachers talk to parents who speak very little Dutch. The Dutch-speaking schools in Brussels are home to a great many pupils who do not speak the language at home.

It can be difficult for teachers to communicate to those pupils’ parents, who speak very little Dutch. The guide, “Duidelijk Nederlands op School” (Clear Dutch at School), is intended to help teachers and staff communicate more effectively in person and also through their written materials.

The guide includes language tips for letters, websites and parent-teacher meetings but also advice on the setting in which teachers conduct conversations with parents and the tone they can adopt. The guide follows workshops that Huis van het Nederlands runs with teachers on the subject.

“Our Dutch for Parents programme helps schools to organise Dutch lessons, conversation classes and other activities for parents to practise Dutch,” explains Gunther Van Neste, the director of the Brussels chapter of House of Dutch. “Many teachers find communicating with foreign-language parents difficult. Our workshops show them how to create more accessible letters and notes – sometimes with only minor changes – and how to conduct conversations more effectively.”

The guide also contains key phrases in French and English that teachers can use – such as “Parents must know the school rules” and “We help children who have trouble studying” – to emphasise that it is in the best interest of the child that parents understand the school’s messages.

“Brussels is the second most cosmopolitan city in the world, after Dubai,” said Guy Vanhengel of the Flemish Community Commission, which co-operated on the guide. “Teachers in our schools work every day with children who often speak different languages, but also with their parents. Involving these parents in the school and communicating with them about their child is a big challenge, and we want to help schools with that.”

Educational system

The Flemish educational system is divided into two levels: primary (age six to 12) and secondary school (12 to 18). Education is compulsory for children between the ages of six and 18.
Types - There are three educational networks in Flanders: the Flemish Community’s GO! network, and publicly funded education – either publicly or privately run.
Not enough space - In recent years, Flemish schools have been struggling with persistent teacher shortages and a growing lack of school spaces.
No tuition fees - Nursery, primary and secondary school are free in Flanders.

million school-going children in 2013


million euros Flemish education budget for new school infrastructures in 2013


percent of boys leaving secondary school without a diploma