Our world is rapidly changing. Borders are disappearing within Europe. Within the organisations of the European Union and in international business the English language is increasingly used as a medium of communication, a modern lingua franca. In many fields developments are taking place, showing that the Netherlands are becoming an internationally orientated society.

European integration leads to increased internationalisation of Dutch companies and organisations and possibilities to work, study or do a work placement abroad, which is facilitated of course by a thorough command of the English language. Students in higher education are increasingly taught in English and a considerable amount of specialist literature is written in English. English is the language of communication in business. Moreover, modern computer technology, i.e. the internet and electronic mail, stimulates intensive, international communication and, at the same time, adds a new English cyber jargon to the Dutch language. The Dutch education system will have to react to these developments with adequate education programmes.    

What is tto?

The European Platform for Dutch Education that is concerned with the execution of internationalisation policy, which includes bilingual education, has made an inventory of existing and desired activities with respect to the internationalisation of education programmes. This has resulted in the paper “Pushing Back Borders” (1991), in which the possibility of bilingual education (tto) was drafted, whereby a substantial portion of the regular curriculum is taught in a different EU-language.

  The considerations that were involved in the development of the tto are:

  • Students who attend tto will be better prepared for higher education and a career in a mobile and international society.
  • There is an increasing demand from parents and students in the Netherlands for more internationally orientated education.
  • Research demonstrates that a foreign language as the official language for tuition in certain subjects may have beneficial effects on mastering other foreign languages.
  • Bilingual education stimulates the cognitive development and social conscience of students.

Given the arguments listed above, the CSG Willem van Oranje has considered ways in which it can distinguish its education course from other courses in the Hoeksche Waard and initiated a bilingual vwo English-Dutch course programme that started in year 2004-2005. In 2011-2012 our school started with bilingual havo.

Are you our prospective tto student?

Bilingual education makes extra demands on students. Studying a number of your subjects in English takes some getting used to in the beginning. A perseverant character and a strong motivation are very important. Linguistic competence is a prerequisite as the bilingual character of the course makes it more demanding than the ordinary curriculum. And so, this foreign language must not pose too much of a problem. A bilingual student should take pleasure in studying and personal development and should be eager to become fluent in English in the end.

Bilingual education in the havo- and vwo-stream

Students in the bilingual havo- and vwo-stream are taught more than 50 % of the subjects in English for the first three years. In these lessons English is the medium of instruction and the text books used are also in English. The students are immersed in the English language, so to say, and learn the language while learning e.g. mathematics, history or geography.

The subjects

In the junior forms, i.e. in years 1, 2, and 3, the following subjects are taught in English: geography, history, music, art & design, physical education, mathematics, physics, economics and of course English itself.

The weekly table of lessons in the 1st form of the bilingual vwo-stream looks like this:

Religious Education1Music1
Dutch3Crafts1
French4Art & Design2
English4Technology2
Drama1Physical Education3
History2Student Counselling1
Geography2Plus lesson1
Mathematics4Research & Design1
Biology2

In the senior bilingual forms the students return to Dutch for most of their subjects, as they will have to be well prepared for their Dutch vwo exam in year 6 / havo exam in year 5. Culture & the arts, Science for public understanding and Social Studies are added to the English curriculum. Students also get more hours of English than students in the regular stream, as they also prepare for the English A language and literature (vwo), certificate of the International Baccalaureate (IB). This internationally recognized certificate facilitates studying at English-medium universities, both within the Netherlands and abroad. Next to that the bilingual vwo students also participate in the regular vwo curriculum, obtaining their vwo diploma by the end of their 6th year.

Internationalization and extra activities

Bilingual havo/vwo is much more than using English in class. Internationalization means opening your eyes to the world. We organize contacts with other countries and give attention to the histories and cultures of European and other Anglophone countries. Students participate in an exchange programme with a bilingual school in a foreign European country. An educational trip to an English speaking country is part of the curriculum, and perhaps even a practical training period. There are visits to Anglophone performances and museums, e-mail projects, contacts with foreign companies in the Netherlands, Model United Nations, lessons given by guest speakers, etc. For our bilingual and internationalization programme we are committed to the standards of the European Platform. The Ministry of Education has commissioned the European Platform to support and monitor the quality of bilingual education in our country.

The teachers

The teachers working in the bilingual programme are eager and highly ambitious, just like their bilingual students. They take a three-year course being trained in teaching their subjects in English. A major part of their training is given by Nijmegen University. In addition, there are native speakers who teach lessons and support activities.

The parents

Parents play an important role in bilingual education. Without their commitment, time and efforts quite a few student activities could never be realized. This not only applies to the exchange programmes, but also to school trips and similar activities, within and without school hours. This means that all parents of bilingual students are asked to contribute to the realization of the internationalization programme. From the beginning a response group was instituted consisting of parents of bilingual students. Every year a new group is founded.

The costs

The bilingual education programme offers numerous extras and, inevitably, is more expensive than the regular havo/vwo curriculum. These costs derive from extra English materials, excursions, visits to museums and theatres, exchange programmes, participation in sports clinics, speaking contests, etc. Employing native speakers and maintaining international contacts bring on extra costs, too.
Parents of bilingual students in the junior forms are asked to contribute an extra € 495, – per year.  And then there are the rent of a locker, the purchase of dictionaries, an atlas, etc. Our school has managed to keep the costs within limits thanks to a (minor) subsidy received from the European Platform. If parents should not be able to afford the extra costs of a bilingual education for their child, they are welcome to discuss possible arrangements with the management of our school. We attach great value to this special education being available to all talented students meeting our requirements.

The entry requirements

A student wishing to enrol must be motivated and must take pleasure in studying and personal development. Of course, adequate abilities are a prerequisite. And so, our admission policy comprises the following guidelines:

bilingual vwo:

  • positive recommendation given by primary school
  • adequate linguistic competence
  • strong motivation

bilingual havo:

  • positive recommendation given by primary school
  • adequate linguistic competence
  • strong motivation

 More information in this videos:

IB Learner Profile

IB Diploma Programme