Multilingualism – natuurlijk, gern!*

Do you know your neighboring country?

Do you know its culture?

Or even the language spoken there?

Only a stone’s throw away and still the German and Dutch neighbours don’t know much of each other. There are many differences between these countries– but also many similarities. The Interreg project Nachbarsprache & Buurcultuur** organises school exchanges so that pupils get to know each other and their countries in real life. As one of these exchanges, children from a German school and a Dutch school – both in the vicinity of Nijmegen – went together on a school-trip to Friesland, a state in the Netherlands, where two languages are spoken: Dutch and Frisian. This was very interesting for them and in this way they began to reflect on their own languages.

Some of these children grow up multilingual. They speak Dutch and German at home or Moroccan and Dutch, for example. During my traineeship I did research on this phenomenon. Currently, you often hear complaints about the fact that too many different languages and cultures have to be handled in society and thus also at school. I visited a school in the Netherlands where they are working with and not against the pupil’s different backgrounds. I could see that this had a positive effect on students; they were more open to new things. In conclusion, if you cross the border of your country, your languages and your culture, you enter a new world.

* Of course, glad

** Neighbour language and neighbour culture


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