Why is integrating such a problem? Posted by Karoly Molina on Nov 4, 2015 in Culture, Dutch Language, News
Earlier this year, I wrote about the requirement most immigrants in the Netherlands must go through: inburgering. In summary, those wishing to obtain a Dutch passport must take an integration exam within 3 years of their arrival to the Netherlands which covers topics such as language, history and the work force. An alternative to this is to take the Nederlands Staatexam which certifies you as a speaker of Nederlands als tweede taal (NT2) or Dutch as a second langauge.
It sounds easy….right?
Recent reports state that about 6,000 people who are inburberingsverplicht by the end of this year will miss the deadline. DUO or the Dienst Uitvoering Onderwijs is the government entity responsible for the integration requirement for immigrants and provides assistance for those needing to take Dutch classes as well as preparation classes for the inburgeringsexamen. Although DUO provides plenty of information via the telephone, website and mail, it seems something isn’t working.
So what could be the problem?
- While DUO does provide us with ample information about the requirements (and sends frequent letters reminding us that we are inburgeringsverplicht), the information is either in Dutch or English. Although a good portion of people around the world speak English, I have met immigrants who live in the Netherlands and speak little or no English and are barely learning Dutch. I must admit that when I moved to the Netherlands and received the first letter and pamphlets about the integration process (in the photo), I could hardly understand what these said.
- There are plenty of ways to learn Dutch and it pretty much comes down to your learning styles. When I moved to the Netherlands, I started taking classes at a school my husband had found, and I didn’t feel that it was the right place for me. Some people like intensive and high demanding classes, others prefer to take it slow, while another group has little time because of other obligations and takes advantage of platforms like Transparent Language to learn Dutch. This requires a good evaluation of your learning styles, budget and time possibilities and then looking for the right fit. I was lucky and found the right school within a month of moving here. I have a friend who tried several and after a year, she finally found the right fit for her.
- Money. Anyone who has learned a new language knows that learning isn’t cheap. You have to pay for the classes, the books, dictionaries, and the exams (which cost €350 for the inburgeringnsexamen or €150 for NT2) each time you take it. Some gemeentes in the Netherlands provide assistance to those learning Dutch, but this is on a case-by-case basis and isn’t offered all the time. From my research, Dutch classes run from €80 to €400 per course. DUO does provide with low-interest loans for those who are inburgeringsverplicht depending on the income of the person or that of his partner. Once the person has fulfilled the integration requirement, he/she has 6 months to begin paying back the loan.
- The last factor is the exam itself. Can a person truly be considered “integrated” by taking an exam? This last question is quite controversial, and, on a personal level, I am split. While I do feel that I have to learn the language and learn about the country I am living in, does doing this and passing an exam mean I am fully integrated? Is one ever fully integrated?
What are your thoughts on the subject? Have any of you experienced the integration process?
A new TV show titled Praat Nederlands met Me aired two weeks ago. The show follows the lives of immigrants living in the Netherlands and their hardships in learning Dutch. You can check it out via the NPO website.
Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.