Dutch language skills 'starting to slip'

20th December 2004, Comments 0 comments

20 December 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Dutch people are not as adept at foreign languages as they think, and their unfounded optimism could affect the nation's future economic competitiveness, several language institutes have claimed.

20 December 2004

AMSTERDAM — Dutch people are not as adept at foreign languages as they think, and their unfounded optimism could affect the nation's future economic competitiveness, several language institutes have claimed.

An official with language and culture institute ITA, Harald Kruithof, said Dutch business managers are missing out on contracts because they are now trailing foreign competitors in the language stakes.

The Dutch were long known in foreign countries for their skills in French, English or German, but Kruithof said this period is now over. He said the development would affect the Netherlands' future attractiveness as a base for international companies.

And a professor of business communication at the Radbout University Nijmegen, Carel Jansen, expressed "serious concerns" about the language.

"With English it is still okay, but there are very few German or French teachers being educated," Jansen told newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. He asserted further that managers are in general satisfied with their language prowess, but said he doubted if this optimism was justified.

The doubts were backed up by language institute Regina Coeli, which is often referred to as the 'nuns of Vught' because it is run by a religious order. The institute said "an increasing number of people with a beginners' level" are enrolling in its courses.
 
A teachers' activist group De Heelmeesters (surgeons), demanded greater attention last week for language education in the Netherlands. The group raised concern about the French and German study packages being offered at secondary schools.

The teachers are also concerned about teacher education courses, claiming that students of such courses are more concerned with learning study skills, rather than actually learning language and culture.

[Copyright Novum Nieuws 2004]

Subject: Dutch news

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