Belgium: School hires teacher who doesn't speak Dutch to teach Turkish kids

Belgium: School hires teacher who doesn't speak Dutch to teach Turkish kids

Via HLN (Dutch):

A Catholic school in Lommel hired a Turkish-speaking teacher to teach all the Turkish pre-schoolers. "This way the children who haven't learned a word of Dutch at home feel safer," says director Danny Huijsmans. Professors for language development and Flemish minister of Education Pascal Smet encourage the approach.

The teacher came by request of the Turkish community in Lommel. They wanted the option for their children to be accepted in their mother tongue. Therefore they suggested looking and paying for a Turkish teacher. The Sint-Jan elementary school, with about 20 Turkish preschoolers, thinks it's a good idea. Huijsmans says that Most Turkish preschoolers don't know a word of Dutch when they get to school. Because they don't understand a lot of things, they fall behind in their studies, and this follows them throughout their school-years. They hope to eliminate this by helping them in the beginning in their mother-tongue.

Teacher Asli, who speaks English but not Dutch, will teach the Turkish preschoolers in all classes several hours a week this year.

Professor of Language Development Koen van Gorp (KULeuven) applauds this project, and says that all their research shows that it's better to first teach kids their mother-tongue, and so to build a good basis for other languages.

Minister Smet also supports it, and says that the preschool education system should put in more efforts for a rich language-environment.