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The British School in The Netherlands

Learning the Value of Language

In our multi-cultural, international environment, instilling a respect for different languages and cultures is paramount to much of what we do. Learning new languages helps to create understanding and encourage a respect of others. 

Regular events in the Senior School provide an opportunity for children to listen to and experience other languages and cultures. Events such as the European Day of Languages, BSN International Days, Mother Tongue Story Time, and the BSN International Festival are just a few examples.

Developing Your Mother Tongue Language

Although English is the day-to-day working language at the BSN, many of our students do not have English as their native language and often use a completely different language at home. Through the Senior School Languages Faculty we endeavour to offer students the possibility to maintain those important links with their mother tongue. Naturally we cannot cover all languages, but we do offer a number of key ones which are made available through our Native Speaker Programme.

Mother Tongue Programme (Y7-8)

Students with a mother tongue of French, German, Dutch, Spanish, Italian, Chinese or Russian are offered specialist tuition at school to prepare them for an early General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) examination. French, German or Spanish speakers are offered a minimum of one lesson a week with the foreign language assistant during timetabled lessons.

Mother tongue Dutch speakers are normally put into the top sets after sitting a placement test at the beginning of Year 7. We also provide tuition with special foreign language assistants in Italian, Chinese or Russian. These lessons normally take place either after school or at lunchtime.

In these groups you will generally prepare for the GCSE in the summer of Year 8, but this can also be arranged in Years 9, 10 and 11 if you prefer, or if you join the BSN after Year 8.

Students with a different mother tongue can still be supported – please contact the Languages Department for advice.

Bridging Programme (Y9-11)

Those students who sat their GCSE in Year 8, are offered a two year bridging programme to cover the ‘gap’ between GCSE and studies in Year 12. These courses are taught by the native language assistants and are be held at lunchtime or after school so they do not interfere with the other GCSE subjects. These courses can lead to an examination if desired and in each language we offer a course that best fits the needs of the students in the group. We prefer students to sit the exam in the summer of Year 10 to leave time in Year 11 to prepare for other GCSE subjects. 

Advanced Mother Tongue Programme (Y12-13)

The study of a mother tongue or native language can be a very rewarding experience in Years 12 and 13. The extra depth of linguistic competence that is required in the exam, as well as the knowledge and understanding about the geography, history and the culture, make this a very pleasurable task for many students, even those who already have a very good understanding of the language and may consider themselves fluent.

Those students wishing to take an AS or IB in Dutch, French, German or Spanish then we can help you in curriculum time. Any students wishing to sit an A Levels in a language that we do not normally teach can still approach the school to find out if a suitable qualification exists - if it does we will do our best to help and support every student. Other languages we have offered in the past include Afrikaans, Arabic, Chinese, Hindi, Modern Greek, Italian Portuguese, Russian, Turkish and Urdu.


Modern Foreign Languages

As an international learning community we provide many different opportunities for students - and parents - to further their language skills. The Modern Foreign Language Faculty is made up of four different departments: Dutch, French, German and Spanish each operating with their own Head of Department. The Faculty also offers a short taster course in Mandarin Chinese and a Latin Club. 

Chinese, Italian and Russian are also available as part of the Language Enrichment Programme from Years 7 up to Year 13.

Years 7-9

Students study French, Dutch, German and Spanish during Year 7 and 8. They also have a short taster course in Mandarin Chinese. In Year 9, students will have selected which two languages they wish to study in more detail for the coming year. Students in Key Stage 3 who require extra help with English may follow EAL studies instead of another foreign language – this is decided in consultation with the English as an Additional Language Department.

Years 10-11

All students are required to study at least one foreign language for GCSE in Years 10 and 11. They can choose from French, German, Spanish or Dutch. 

Years 12-13 (A Level and IB Diploma)

Students have a free choice of options and the Language Faculty offers French, Spanish, German and Dutch in both AS and A2 Level. For those students following the IB route, the study of a modern foreign language is compulsory as part of group 2 of the hexagon. The Faculty currently offers Dutch at A1 level (Language and Literature option) and French, German, Spanish and Dutch as part of the Language B programme. We are investigating the possibility of offering the A1 (Language and Literature option) for the other languages taught.