Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Skip to 0 minutes and 23 seconds[Dutch:] We're a small village school, with 48 pupils. We are a trilingual school. We teach English, Frisian and Dutch to all grades. We do this in separate parts of the day... where we use English, Frisian or Dutch as the teaching language. [Frisian:] Kuba is a very smart boy. And his grandparents still live in Poland. Can you count in Polish? Will you do that for us?

Skip to 1 minute and 14 seconds[Frisian:} Give him a great big...? -Thumbs up. We also have Nour, from Syria. You can count in Arabic, can't you? But Nour never starts with her thumb, but with her little finger. Show us.

Skip to 1 minute and 49 seconds[Dutch:] What's your name? -Gretl. At first we thought it would be quite difficult... to include foreign-language pupils in our school... since we don't speak their language. We initially tried to stop the Polish pupils... from speaking Polish among themselves... which we didn't understand. They should try to speak Dutch. We regretted this later. We took away their only way of communicating among themselves. Some pupils even stopped communicating at all. They didn't talk. With this project we decided to allow them to speak their own language. Whatever their language, we want them to feel welcome. We even show them that we want to learn their language too. Our foreign-language pupils are very keen... to teach and explain their language to us.

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 secondsThey think it's great that we show an interest, and include it in our activities. And our native pupils, who speak Dutch or Frisian, or both... are very curious to learn a new language. They actually use it in the schoolyard. [Frisian:} That's very good. How many thumbs does she get? [Dutch:] We have just done a counting activity in class. They all know how to count to ten in Dutch. And since we are a trilingual school, also in English and Frisian. But because we have foreign-language pupils, we also include their languages. [Dutch:] In which language shall we answer? Let's see, we have several languages. We have Arabic, Polish... Dutch, Swedish, and English. Yes, Swedish. Close your eyes. -Not Swedish. Yes, Swedish.

Skip to 4 minutes and 12 seconds-No, no. Swedish. [Dutch:] It's remarkable to see how open our pupils are to other languages. Even when a new pupil arrives who speaks yet another language. They are very receptive and curious. It's often said that teaching in more languages, like Frisian and Dutch... hampers children's first language development. But there is no scientific evidence for this, and we don't see it either. In fact, certain linguistic concepts from their native language... are easily linked to similar concepts in a second language. For the older children this is a great way to compare their languages. Especially if you can use their own linguistic input. So we don't see any negative effects on their language development. We also try to show the link between languages.

Skip to 5 minutes and 25 secondsTo teach them how certain words look or sound similar. Or to explain differences in grammatical structure. This helps them to become aware of the structure of Dutch. So these concepts strengthen one another. What I like about this school, is that you learn more languages than just Dutch. I also like it... that you learn more languages here, that's why pupils choose this school. And it's fun too. I think it's very interesting. If you're going to visit another country... you have already learned the language. I like it that we have a girl in my class who speaks Arabic. You learn a very different language, with such beautiful letters. It's important to let them speak their own language.

Skip to 6 minutes and 32 secondsAt first, I was a little wary that I wouldn't be able to understand them... because I didn't know their language. The advantage with the Polish pupils was that we have quite a few of them. They can translate among themselves, and back to us. With the Swedish girl there wasn't a problem... since she speaks Dutch and Frisian, with Swedish as her third language. The Arabic-speaking pupils posed the biggest problem. We once invited someone to our school... to cook a typically Arabian dish with them, in the kitchen. But the language remains a problem. Fortunately, most of them speak some English, so that's nice. It's still difficult, of course, but that's not going to stop us.

Skip to 7 minutes and 30 secondsWe see it more as a challenge than as a problem. So that's nice.

The trilingual school

In this video we see a the trilingual school De Flambou in Friesland, which teaches in Dutch, Frisian and English and includes migrant languages.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Multilingual Practices: Tackling Challenges and Creating Opportunities

University of Groningen

Get a taste of this course

Find out what this course is like by previewing some of the course steps before you join:

Contact FutureLearn for Support