Dutch TV Episode: Becoming a Mother in Melbourne – Brighton

Dutch TV is a weekly television program on community TV Channel 31 in Melbourne and Geelong (Australia) and Foxtel Aurora (Australia wide). We have been broadcasting for 4 years.  The program is about Dutch people living in Australia and is presented mostly in Dutch with English subtitles so that we can connect to everyone who has a link with the Netherlands.  We cover topics such as Dutch culture in Australia, shared heritage and new topics from Holland.

16 May 2016 episode

You can find out more about Dutch TV and watch plenty of previous episodes here:

Website: http://www.dutchtvonline.com/

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Dutchtvonline/

Watching Dutch TV is an excellent opportunity to work on learning Dutch.  For the 08 May episode, Carole created a lesson plan which you can work through.

 

Raising bilingual Dutch Australian children

I remember once, long before I became a mother, I went to a party at a friend’s house in Delft.  Her children greeted me in Dutch, but when they heard me speaking English, they switched.  They were completely comfortable in both languages and I remember remarking to my husband how cool it would be to have children who could do that.  Now, I am raising bilingual children myself.  This could easily become a whole series of posts, but I’ll start with a story of our family’s experiences so far.

Our eldest was born in Delft and we moved to Australia when she was 5 months old.  I have always spoken English with her and my husband has always spoken Dutch.   We did the same when our second came along two years later.  This has been called the “one person [parent], one language” approach.  We’re not incredibly strict with this, it depends on the situation and sometimes my husband will talk English and I will sometimes (less often) speak Dutch.  One example is if we have a friend or another child over who only speaks one of the languages, we often all switch to that.  Or when my husband’s parents would come to visit us in Australia, for about a month each year, they would hear mostly Dutch in our home.

When the girls were aged 3 & 5, we moved from Australia back to the Netherlands.  At that stage, after being mostly surrounded by English-speakers, they were speaking English to each other. We have lived in The Hague approaching 4 years now, and I must say that I’m thrilled their default language with each other is still English.  Considering they now go to a Dutch school and are surrounded mostly by Dutch-speakers daily, I’m very glad this English-language part of my own identity and culture has stayed such a big part of their life.

Another “trick” I’ve used is that when they ask to watch tv, sometimes I’ll allow it only if it’s in English.  We have a big DVD collection and of course there is loads on YouTube.  Perhaps due to this though, I now have one child that speaks with an American accent and one sounds more British!

What is very normal though is for them to throw the Dutch word into sentences when they don’t know the English one.  Here’s a good example I just found from two years ago, where my youngest is going through a pile of artwork she did at school.  At the time, she was 4 and a half, and had been in groep 1 at a Dutch school for about 7 months.  We’d been living in the Netherlands for about 18 months.  You’ll notice that I suggest the English word (nearly) each time she says a Dutch one.  Watching this later, I realised I got one or two wrong!  This is something we still do on a really regular basis in our daily conversations.  Sometimes they will repeat the English word after me, sometimes just listen and move on….I never force it.  If it’s a particularly difficult word, I may ask them if they can say it.

The issue that is starting to appear now though is with grammar, reading, writing and spelling.  They speak English very well and to hear them, you’d likely assume (hopefully!) they are native speakers.  However as English is not actually taught at their school, this is something I have realised I am going to have to take into my own hands.

A few years ago, I met a lovely Canadian lady in The Hague, Eowyn Crisfield.  She is an expert in the field of bilingualism and bilingual education, with a B.Ed in Teaching English as a Second/Foreign Language, and a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics.  She works with educational institutions around the world and I learnt a lot from a presentation she gave a while ago in The Hague.   You can read more over on her website, and she has an excellent blog: http://onraisingbilingualchildren.com

on-raising-bilingual-children-2

The thing I remembered most about this was that to raise children as a native speaker of a language, you really have to take it seriously, and dedicate time and energy to this.  I started realising it was really important to me to have my children not only speak my language…but speak, read, write and understand my language as native speakers.  I know that the majority of Dutch people speak English very well.  However it’s very quickly obvious it’s a second language.  Not just because it’s “my” language, but also because it’s an international language, I think one of the best gifts I can give my children is ensuring they are strong communicators in English.

I started talking to others about a year ago about this and had a lot of interesting perspectives.  Many of my English-speaking friends, whether from an English-speaking country, or using English as a second (or third or fourth!) language themselves, have chosen to send their children to a predominantly English-speaking school.  In The Hague, there are quite a few of these.  Several are expensive private schools, catering mostly for expat children who are in the Netherlands short term.  There are a couple of other Dutch or “International” schools that teach a certain percentage of classes in English or which start English lessons from a much younger age.  For a few reasons, our children go to a totally Dutch-speaking school.  In fact, so much so, that I was told recently – not by the school themselves but the after school care – that it was forbidden for my girls to speak English TO EACH OTHER!  I completely understand they need to speak Dutch to the carers and the other children.  However their default language with each other is English and them “messing” with this has caused a bit of stress in our family.  That’s a whole other post I’ll leave for another time.

My girl’s teachers have always been generally supportive of the fact the girls are bi-lingual but are not able to offer much practical support.  It’s not until groep 7 or 8 (when the girls are about 11) that they will start with basic English classes a few hours a week (if that).

Now the girls are getting older, I realise I need some help, particularly in helping them learn correct English grammar, and to read and write.  I’ve also been surprised at how little I actually remember about the rules of English grammar and how unequipped I am to teach these skills to my own children.

So, I’m taking some action.  A few months ago, I started a Facebook group (which now has over 100 members) to share experiences with and learn from others in a similar situation.  There are many other families I’m starting to meet that are a lot like ours, and also Dutch or International parents who would like for their children to learn English at an earlier age.   Just last week, I’ve started a new website “Kids English Club” where I plan on collecting various resources to support children and their parents in the Netherlands to practice and improve their English.  I’ll start with the website but will also plan some events.

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Thankfully, my girls are really interested and excited about this as a project.  This in itself is making sure we dedicate a part of our week to the importance of developing English language skills.

I’m also realising how important my language is to me.   Before, it was just something I took for granted.  It’s really strange to me that my own children don’t speak with an Australian accent.  In fact, I’m kind of losing mine and speaking a more “neutral” English I’ve been told.  My language is part of my identity though.  In fact, yesterday was the UN International Mother Language Day.  It’s something I want to consciously make part of mine and my children’s lives.

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If you have any ideas or experiences to share about raising bilingual (or multilingual) children, I’d love to hear it in a comment below!

Renee

 

Betty and Cat: Bilingual Dutch and English books

These books are amazing.  Author Hennie Jacobs kindly sent me review copies last summer and the girls and I loved them.  We have bookshelves filled with both English and Dutch language kids books – but these are the only ones we have with BOTH languages in the one book.

Hennie was born in The Netherlands but then moved with her family to Montreal at six years old and needed to become bilingual very quickly!  So she has written these books for children from her own experiences.  She now works as an advertising copywriter and also teaches English as a second language to both business people and children.

Beautifully illustrated and interactive, these books are not a direct translation but instead a playful conversation between the main characters in Dutch and English.  They read from top to bottom instead of left to right and are fun and friendly.

Firm favourites in our house and can highly recommend taking a look at the Betty and Cat website to buy your Dutch Australian children, grandchildren or friend’s children a copy!  You can also visit their website to find a sample, more information and bookstores.  English/French version also available.

Betty and Cat Website

Betty and Cat Facebook Page

Have you read Betty and Cat?  Would love your comments below!

Dutch snow cover NL Kennel cover

Is it The Netherlands or the Netherlands?

Question of the day..should it be:

The Netherlands

or

the Netherlands?

Until now, I believed that you should always capitalise “The” regardless of where in the sentence you were writing “The Netherlands”.  I can’t remember exactly how and why I do this but “the Netherlands” just looked wrong and I believed it was due to “The” being part of the country’s official name.

However, recently, I noticed that the official government website www.government.nl uses the second so have done some more research.

Here’s a screenshot from a 2008 translator’s forum, click on the image to view the original post.

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Her only response to this post directed her to the Times Style guide.  The link in that forum is no longer active, but I found this entry in Wikipedia (again click on the image for the original article).

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Until today, I’d never heard the word “toponymy” – had you?  So I had to look that up too!  Whatever did we do before Google.

  1. Toponymy is the study of place names (toponyms), their origins, meanings, use, and typology.

So their conclusion is that it should be written as “the Netherlands” as it is “similar to names such as “the United States” and “the Federal Republic of Germany”.  There, problem solved.  So from now on, I will write the Netherlands in a middle of a sentence, but still capitalise when beginning a sentence or in a heading or title.

However then my husband raised the question – “Well, what about The Hague?”

You can also join the conversation on our Facebook page:

Or share your thoughts in a comment below.
-Renee

Raising Dutch Australian children – Let it Go/Laat het los

Let it Go - Laat het Los - Dutch/Nederlands

Let it Go – Laat het Los – Dutch/Nederlands
Source: YouTube http://youtu.be/OC83NA5tAGE

If you have a young daughter, or have been anywhere near a young girl in the last few months, it’s highly likely you’ve heard them belting out “Let It Go” – the most popular song from the Disney movie, Frozen.

In our local playground here in The Hague, I recently heard a few young Dutch girls singing it – in English – in beautiful voices.  It amazes me that many children learn to sing in English before they speak it – actually a great trick to try if you are trying to learn a language (I wrote a post about this a few years ago you may like: Tip #1 for learning Dutch: use a song).

In The Netherlands, english-language movies for adults are generally released in the cinema as the original version with dutch subtitles, while most children’s movies are translated with voice-overs into Dutch.  Recently we took our daughters to the cinema for the first time in The Netherlands to see Rio 2 – in Dutch.  I’m incredibly proud of them that after two years of living here (and papa speaking Dutch to them since birth), our almost 5 and almost 7 year old girls can switch pretty effortlessly between languages.  It really doesn’t bother them if a movie is in either Dutch or English.  They have only seen Frozen in English though, and have been singing it in english.

Just yesterday, it dawned on me that there was probably a dutch version.  “Girls, I wonder if Let it Go” is also in Dutch?” I asked, to which my youngest replied immediately “Laat het los”.  I wasn’t sure if she’d heard it before or was simply translating, so thought I’d Google it.  And here it is!  My eldest daughter listened to it and declared “it doesn’t make sense in Dutch” and prefers the english version.  Though we established that’s probably as she’s so used to it already in english and as the Dutch version is using several words she’s not yet familiar with.

Interestingly enough, when looking for links for this post, I found this official Walt Disney Multi-Language version – in 25 languages!!

Are you raising Dutch Australian children?  Perhaps pick one of their favourite songs and see if there is an alternate version.  Have you tried this?  Love to hear about your experiences in a comment below.

Renee

Five dutch songs our Dutch Australian children love

Dutch children's songs

Our girls are now aged four and six and if you’ve followed this blog for a while you’ll know that they are little bi-lingual Dutch Australians. If you’re new – welcome, you might like to read about us.

I thought I’d share five of their favourite dutch songs.  You may be a Dutch Australian family who would like your kids to practice their “Nederlands” or you may be learning yourself….these are tried and tested by my daughters and have all been played many, many times in our house.  They are all available on YouTube and where possible, I have included the lyrics versions so you can (learn to) sing along.  What are your favourite Dutch children’s songs?

1. K3 – Alle Kleuren

2. Pulcino Pio – Het Kuikentje Piep

3. Kinderen voor Kinderen – Klaar voor de Start

4. Kinderen voor Kinderen – Bewegen is Gezond

5.  SuperKeet – Keet!

Dutch Australian is a community of those with connections to both Australian and The Netherlands.  This blog follows the adventures of our Dutch Australian family as well as highlighting information and articles of interest to dual nationals.  You might like to read more about me, get to know other Dutch Australian people and explore other articles on the blog.  Come and chat to others over in the Dutch Australian Facebook community, we’d love to meet you!  If you’ve enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to comment below or share.  You can also contact me directly and sign up for our e-newsletter to keep up to date.