Expanding cross-border education in the Netherlands and Germany

We, Julian and Fleur, have been involved in IVY within the “Nachbarsprache & Buurcultuur” project. This project focuses on cooperation between both Dutch and German secondary schools in the Dutch-German border area. This is done, among others, by supporting school exchanges for pupils and teachers, offering teaching materials and organising congresses in which knowledge and practical examples can be shared. These activities prepare pupils for a cross-border European-oriented future.

As part of the project, we assisted at the children's language festival called “Kletskoppen kindertaalfestival”. At our stand, the children could discover their hidden multilingualism through various games (picture 1).

Picture 1: “Kletskoppen kindertaalfestival” Picture 2: “assisting with activities” Picture 3: “Euregio Realschule”

In addition to this joint activity, we have been involved in various areas within the project. Julian was active at a secondary bilingual school in the German-Dutch border region, where he observed the mathematic lessons and helped with activities before the outbreak of COVID-19 (pictures 2 and 3). By means of these observations, he compared the Dutch and German teaching material (mathematics) to realise a flawless transfer for the pupils between both education programmes.

On the basis of newly designed teaching ideas and proposals, schools can subsequently integrate the neighbouring language and culture within their existing curriculum (e.g. in mathematics lessons). Fleur has worked in the field of primary education, in which research results from a bilingual German-Dutch school have been “translated” into recommendations for educational practice. In addition, the primary school systems in the Netherlands and Germany have been compared in order to make recommendations for a possible extension of the project. By doing so, it will be possible to familiarize pupils from an early age with both a regional as well as a European identity (1). Besides, a test battery will be designed to help bilingual schools to map the language development (spelling skills) of their pupils.

All in all, it was (and still is) a valuable experience for us in which we were already able to put theoretical knowledge into practice. It is a pleasure to be able to contribute, even by means of working from home (picture 4), to cross-border collaborations in order “to learn with and from each other”, as formulated by the “Nachbarsprache & Buurcultuur” project.

Picture 4: “home office”

Picture 4: “home office”

(1) As formulated in the goals of the project: https://www.ru.nl/nachbarsprache-nl/het-project/

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